Adopting a Digital Mindset

While changing market conditions, human capital retention issues, and financial constraints are challenging for contractors, they also provide opportunities for competitive advantages if handled effectively.

Companies that continue to innovate and adapt to changing environments position themselves for long-term sustainability, success, and growth. Contractors can distinguish themselves in this way through the enhanced use of technology.

This article discusses the importance of aligning people, processes, and technology to achieve successful digital initiatives.

Preparing for Digital Transformation

A common misconception is that technology can — and will — fix any business process issues. The reality is that technology, when implemented over poor or broken processes, can exacerbate these issues. Technology should be used to enhance optimized processes, as opposed to implementing technology that requires a process to conform to it.

By first going through the exercise of aligning people, processes, and technology to explicitly stated business objectives, companies can expect better results from their technology implementations, avoid common pitfalls, and have a greater probability in realizing the full benefits of their digital initiatives. Furthermore, these steps aid in user acceptance and confidence, while developing a culture of change and new perspectives.

The necessary foundational steps to put you on the right path include thinking critically about the problem you are trying to solve, how technology plays a role in that solution, and the value to be derived from solving that problem to facilitate successful change and cultivate a culture of innovation.

Digital Strategy

The technology landscape is vast and can be quite overwhelming. There are a significant number of solutions available, with new ones constantly hitting the market that are more impressive than the last. The sheer volume of software alone makes it difficult to identify and select the right technology solution for your company.

If there is no business case supporting these digital initiatives, then they will fail before they even start. Companies that ask about a technology solution’s features and functions before reflecting internally on the business purpose and corresponding impact on people and processes are setting themselves up for a costly, inefficient, and overall painful implementation from the start.

Have you ever left a software demo thinking that the tool was going to change your company forever, only to realize that it doesn’t do what you thought it would once implemented? Have you ever been part of an implementation that stretches months past the deadline and gets shelved before it goes live? Or, have you purchased new software that gets rolled out with grand pomp and circumstance, only for it to go unused past the training class?

Largely, these failures are not solely the fault of the technology itself and, in fact, may not be the fault of the software at all.

A frequently missed step by most companies, and a costly omission, is the lack of clarity surrounding the purpose and intended impact of the solution being evaluated. Companies don’t always need the best piece of technology available in the market — they need the correct piece of technology to help achieve their particular goal or objective. Understanding, defining, and aligning these needs are the starting point to developing a foundational digital strategy.

A digital strategy refers to a company’s plan for leveraging digital technologies in order to achieve specific strategic goals and objectives. Critically thinking through those strategic goals and objectives should come first and is key in having a clear and focused digital strategy.

Simply stated, the first question that companies need to be considering is “Why are we planning to innovate?” While the answer may not be straightforward for everyone, the purpose behind most digital strategies can typically be categorized into one of the following four strategic goals:

New Business

Technology can help with growth by enabling new business lines or revenue streams to develop and flourish. Simply put, technology can allow companies to do something new.

Consider the data captured during a job’s life cycle. Companies using tools such as data warehousing, data analytics, and artificial intelligence (AI) can mine this data to extract insights that will not only help them with their own internal operations, but may also be used to provide insights on construction trends, cost projections, and project performance metrics that could be sold within the marketplace, thus creating a new source of revenue.

Internal Stakeholder Impact

Improving the employee experience enhances satisfaction, aids retention, and creates opportunities. People want to have a positive experience during their workday, feel empowered, and know they have the right tools to do their job as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Technology can help by removing the most manual, tedious, and time-consuming tasks from your company’s processes through automation. But the quantitative impact is getting the actual time back each day to focus on other value-added tasks, thus expanding your workforce’s capacity.

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