The Importance of Planning Ahead with Construction Software Implementations
It’s not news that construction is one of the least digitized industries, but that is quickly changing. We’ve seen more contractors turning to digital collaboration tools that connect their teams and reduce the headaches associated with paper-based processes. Choosing the right software is probably top of mind if your organization is looking to modernize, and while the focus of software and technology needs almost certainly revolves around features, functionality and ease of use, how that software will be implemented should be part of those discussions. That’s why having an implementation plan in place — especially with construction management software — is vital.
To start, consider the processes and challenges you face within those processes. These insights should help guide you to technology you actually need. Once you’ve settled on a solution you think will work well for your organization, we recommend finding a test group. Starting with a pilot project does several things: It lets you see the software in the real world, identify problem areas or things that need customization and get buy-in from employees — a key part of successful software adoption.
Start with a Software Trial Run
If you’re able to with your software provider, try a pilot program or “sandbox.” First assess what project would be a good test case. Do you have a project that would benefit a lot from the software? Is there a project of an appropriate size — probably not too big, but big enough that you get a good picture of how the software functions? Do you want specific members of your organization to be part of the project? It’s important you involve participants from all job functions who will eventually use the software.
Once you’ve chosen a project, educate the people involved about the software. Explain why it was chosen (including what problems it solves), how it works and how it will affect the project and everyone’s tasks within it. You need to get buy-in from everyone for the software to be successful. Once you roll out the software to the rest of the organization, the people involved in the pilot can help champion and explain it to others.
While your project is underway, solicit feedback about how the software is working. This is your chance to iron out issues before large-scale deployment. Find what doesn’t work well and adjust with your software provider as needed. Good construction software allows for certain amounts of customization and flexibility, so explore your software’s features and see if you can customize the interface, workflows or other aspects of the software so it’s easier to use. Handling these kinds of tweaks ahead of time means you won’t have to worry about lots of negative feedback down the road.
Once the project is complete, get everyone together and do an assessment. What went well? What didn’t? Do you have further changes to make? Did the software meet expectations and help the project achieve its goals? These key takeaways will guide the rest of your implementation process.
Make a Software Implementation Plan
Implementing new software, especially in a large organization, takes planning. If you don’t plan well, you end up with disgruntled employees who don’t understand why things are changing. But doing things like a pilot project and clearly communicating processes and schedules with team members well ahead of time will help deployment go much more smoothly.
Some things to plan for as you prepare for a full deployment:
- Potential system downtime while software is installed
- How the changeover will affect current and future projects
- How you’ll communicate with employees about the process
- What training to provide ahead of time and during the rollout
- What documentation you should have on hand for employees
Getting things up and running will take time and effort. But by planning ahead, you can avoid causing too much negative disruption.
For a more detailed look at choosing and implementing construction software, download our free e-book, “A Practical Guide to Selecting Construction Software.”