John Meibers is the vice president and general manager of Deltek + ComputerEase, the leading provider of accounting, project management, and field-to-office software for the construction industry. In today’s rapidly changing and fast-paced world, a big part of John’s role is to ensure that ComputerEase equips clients with the most cutting-edge technology. Below is a Q&A with John’s thoughts on the construction industry and technology.
With regards to technology, what upgrades do commercial construction firms overlook?
With regards to technology, construction companies often overlook a key first step—evaluating where they are at today and identifying key business inefficiencies to improve through software implementation. Once your company’s future technology needs are outlined, you can then start to analyze different software providers to determine which ones are the best fit to help you achieve your goals. During this discovery process, I recommend construction companies ask “Is this software built specifically for our industry or does it try to be a solution that works for all industries?” The nuances and complexities of construction typically require software that truly knows how to solve your specific business problems.
Another aspect of software selection that sometimes goes overlooked is the idea that you’re not just buying software, you’re buying a partnership. Construction companies should actively seek out software vendors that have a long and successful history operating within the construction space. Major software implementation is not easy to uproot, so finding a vendor that truly understands your business and can provide personalized support from a team with real-world industry expertise is important. When talking to software vendors during the discovery process, you can learn a lot by asking “What do your short-term and long-term product roadmaps look like?” Find out if they have a strategic vision for development and determine if that aligns with your company growth goals.
In your opinion, what has been the main reason construction firms have not updated processes with technology and do you think construction firms can have a remote workforce?
I think the main reason construction firms have not updated technology is the misconception of the overall value new software can bring. The software chosen should be transformational to the construction firm and alter the trajectory of their business. Oftentimes companies view software more as a transactional expense, which couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes to robust, fully-integrated construction software. This perception is often the result of a less than satisfactory experience with generic software solutions or when construction companies don’t have a software partner that offers complete implementation support and on-going training.
The construction industry also has an aging workforce that can sometimes be resistant to technological change. And hey, I don’t blame them! We’ve encountered construction professionals with 30- to 40-plus years of both field and office experience that have been doing the job successfully at a high level for a long time ask why change is necessary. The answer is that evolving your software strategy isn’t about yesterday or today, but about tomorrow. How much more powerful and efficient could your organization be if you combine the years of industry experience with that latest software built specifically for your trade? In addition, the younger generations that are moving into decision making roles within construction, actively seek out companies that find creative ways to power their business through software and technology. Having some level of software sophistication can be huge for attracting and retaining a talented workforce.
With regards to construction firms being able to have a successful remote workforce, I absolutely believe they can. Construction traditionally has always had a remote workforce with operations happening both on the jobsite and in the office. Construction has in some ways always been working remotely, now there are just new and more efficient ways to enhance field-to-office communication.
What can construction companies do to better prepare for tomorrow’s jobsite?
Companies can invest in systems that provide real-time access to job data and better connect their teams. The modern construction company needs to be able to do everything in the field that they can in the office. With the proper controls and security, leveraging the right technology can bring the power of your system directly to the field and everyone else in your network or business ecosystem.
WHAT ARE THE FIVE WARNING SIGNS A CONSTRUCTION FIRM’S SOFTWARE IS A LIABILITY?
The five warning signs a construction firm’s software is a liability are:
Generic software that isn’t construction specific. For contractors and construction companies to truly power their business through software, they need to seek out vendors that specialize in providing solutions that address the complexities of their specific trade.
Still operating outside your core software system or using spreadsheets. Construction companies should seek out software that allows for the elimination of disparate systems and the ability to centralize the management of their critical business processes under one system.
Lack of technical support and on-going training. Easy to access technical support and on-going training is critical for long-term success. Take care of your software investment and make sure the vendor you choose has a tenured, experienced staff that can assist with any technical issues and offers training sessions and resources for not only new, but current members of your team.
Limited ability to connect the field to the office. The construction companies that succeed the most are the ones that do a really good job at working as a cohesive unit. If your software does not transform the way the office communicates with the field, it is not fully powering your team.
Limited updates and lack of innovative product roadmap. Like the construction industry itself, the software you use to run your business should be constantly evolving as well. Find vendors that have consistent and useful product update roadmaps and can easily explain what their development strategy is and how it will help make the overall product better.
Overall, I believe the construction industry will continue to look for comprehensive software solutions to power their business and workforce. We also think that the overall workforce will be looking for companies that have a vision of solving problems through technology and actively seek out those who do. Construction companies will continue to work towards being more productive and profitable in both the field and office striving to achieve a cohesive business team where everyone is working as one.
for more information:
Deltek is the leading global provider of enterprise software and information solutions for project-based businesses. More than 30,000 organizations and millions of users in over 80 countries around the world rely on Deltek for superior levels of project intelligence, management, and collaboration. Deltek’s industry-focused expertise powers project success by helping firms achieve performance that maximizes productivity and revenue. For more, visit www.deltek.com.
Modern Contractor Solutions, June 2020
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