By Stein Revelsby
On any given day, construction management tracks multiple subcontractors over multiple jobsites each with their own set of tasks, timelines, and issues. All these moving parts make it impossible for the team to get together particularly during COVID-19. It is challenging to coordinate all project activities and resources while reducing waste of time and materials in order to meet strict margins. Additionally, contractors are faced with a new set of challenges with COVID-19 as teams are encouraged to social distance and need to move outside their comfort zone and the traditional single meeting room with paper notes setting.
McKinsey reports that they are seeing companies overcome these challenges by transforming from analog to digital. They’ve analyzed construction companies that successfully implemented digital technologies and ways of working and found that the move to digital had five common practices, including: fixing pain points; implementing digital use cases to promote collaboration; reskill and restructure engineering teams; adjust project baselines to capture value; and connect projects to unlock impact across the enterprise.
While the gap from analog to digital is growing smaller within the industry, the journey to discover and incorporate the best practice and solution is ongoing as each company has differing conditions and project needs.
Despite these ongoing challenges, digital tools are proven to increase efficiency by reducing risk, error, wasted time and materials. While increasing visibility of teams, enhancing collaboration and keeping processes lean and simplified with the most straightforward tools to help achieve greater success on a regular basis. For an advantageous outcome, construction companies can consider outlining project management issues and researching the best digital solution to aid work.
As construction moves from analog to digital the industry can realize the following benefits:
- Attain higher levels of team collaboration, transparency and achieve more timely and less wasteful project completion
- Digital tools to support a seamless workflow; continuity from one update to another with less communication and faster alignment and decision power; be able to support the work and process to achieve better results; and provide a big room experience where every employee feels involved 100% of the time
- Additionally, the workflow collaboration tool needs to be intuitive and easy to use across multi-disciplinary and disparate teams with little down time for integration and training
RECREATING THE BIG ROOM EXPERIENCE
Typically, construction teams are accustomed to the single “big room” experience where all project details, milestones, materials, and planning are collectively outlined using a whiteboard, sticky notes, and paper. Hoylu, the latest digital collaborative software and online whiteboard for remote teams, recreates the big room experience and secures all project details and information in one place so teams can easily monitor, measure and keep informed by connecting with the whole team in real time regardless of location.
One of the biggest advantages of using a digital solution like Hoylu is that less mistakes are made. Mistakes and resources are extremely costly and result in pushing deadlines. With digital tools, teams are able to provide updates instantly so that project management can identify issues, follow up and pivot to new strategies faster, and provide instant next steps to the team because everyone is connected to the project which is completely outlined in one place.
While the term “digital solution” oftentimes comes with the weary connotation of a complex technology that only a specialist can use or one that requires long training and integration periods, Hoylu’s Connected Workspaces has been developed together with industry experts with special focus on ease of use. Hoylu’s tools are simple for the whole team to use and support each individual’s work so that construction is more efficient and teams can do their work better by avoiding mistakes. Hoylu has also eliminated the complicated setup and users are able to intuitively navigate the platform with ease from any location. The platform has also recently been upgraded so teams can input large amounts of data in little time and glide through different customizable features with minimum hassle. For teams that are working in areas with less bandwidth, we’ve added an “Offline Mode” feature so teams don’t miss a beat.
A software tool that is easy-to-use and connects people and their work wherever they are, can ultimately reduce risks, boost productivity and increase margins.
Pull planning is one methodology that is being adopted by project management that is proving to be effective in construction due to the logic and detailed sequence and follow up of activities, resources, dependencies and variance reasons. Pull planning incorporates every team member and selects multiple leaders to contribute their expertise and responsibilities on the project in order to focus on the primary goal of completion. The methodology helps to put the project activities and resources in context and promotes progress regardless if an issue arises. Also, with the opportunity to review the final scope of the project, teams can work backward to see which steps need to be completed in order to finalize the project.
Paper sticky notes and whiteboards are still broadly used and adoption of digital tools has been slow mainly due to complexity and lack of tools that are intuitive, fast and easy to use for the whole team. The value is in the process and digital tools should support the process and not get in the way of continued improvement. If the barrier of user adoption is overcome, there are immediate gains in productivity, improved communication and lower risks. Once digital transformation happens there is continued potential to optimize and improve logistics, resources and processes, for example using smartphones for notifications and data input, geospatial data and tracking.
Hoylu empowers the construction industry to easily implement pull planning and replicate the big room experience in a virtual connected workspace.
We believe that some of these digital tools and solutions could help overcome many of the industry challenges. The huge contrasts between adoption of advanced 3D modeling, digital twins, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality on the one side and the use of paper sticky notes on the other side is interesting. By investigating pain points, testing digital tools on different use cases and discovering the best solution to close the analog gaps, the transformation from analog to digital will likely improve the overall workflow, result in faster project completion and positively impact your company’s productivity. There is no one solution that fits all, but with continual progress and improvement each company will be able to attain greater efficiency and success.
about the author
Stein Revelsby is the founder and CEO of Hoylu. Stein is a serial entrepreneur with more than 30 years of experience within investment banking, venture capital, and private equity. He has extensive experience as a board member and manager of tech and IT companies in Scandinavia and the US. He holds a Master’s degree in Business and Economics from Norwegian School of Management (BI), is a Norwegian citizen and resides in the US as a permanent resident.