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Who is your digital solution really for?

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The construction industry lives, and dies, by the contractor model – you hear about digital solutions to find leading versus lagging indicators so the project management team can step in and address risks before they materialise, but have you ever stopped to think who the customer of your digital tool should really be? Nearly every piece of physical front line work is completed by a sub-contractor. Given a project is only successful if critical subcontracts are completed on time and budget to the right level of quality – then isn’t it just ‘good business’ to invest in their success?

The construction industry lives, and dies, by the contractor model – you hear about digital solutions to find leading versus lagging indicators so the project management team can step in and address risks before they materialise, but have you ever stopped to think who the customer of your digital tool should really be?

Nearly every piece of physical front line work is completed by a sub-contractor. Given a project is only successful if critical subcontracts are completed on time and budget to the right level of quality – then isn’t it just ‘good business’ to invest in their success?

Canva - Team of construction engineers working on building site

Leading construction projects are increasingly utilising digital tools to collect real time data. The value of digital is clear – transparency of field level information to make real time decisions. Owners invest in new technologies with hopes of providing an accurate picture of field level progress for project leaders to make informed decisions, but are these digital tools being used to manage contractor progress, or to enabling them to perform?

To illustrate, we recently worked with a client that had invested heavily in a digital tool for construction progress tracking. The tool had a portal which allowed anyone to see real time progress but relied on data input from a contractor who saw no benefit from the output. Further, it provided status to the owner, but no insight as to why an area was delayed or how to correct it.

We helped the client by taking the raw data and building simple, but effective, Power BI dashboards to give the contractor meaningful insight from the data to manage their performance, and the owner valuable context. This not only helped to drive performance, but also improved data capture (buy-in from the front line) as they saw clear benefit from feeding into the system.

Canva - Beautiful Hispanic Woman Analyzes Statistics, Charts and Pies with Companys Growth Shown on a Wall TV.

Contracts intend to find the correct balance of risk transfer and have incentives aligned to the owners’ goals, but the reality is the financial success for a contractor on a project does not always equal the success of the overall project. If you are building a digital tool to monitor and police your subcontractors perhaps you should consider an alternative approach – one which provides performance transparency to project leaders while enabling performance self-management for sub-contractors.

With great field level data, and the correct analysis, contractors are in a far better place to manage performance within their organisations – thus reducing the need for intervention at the Owner or Project Director level, as well as contractual claims.

About the authors

Karen Wong