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Construction software moves ahead

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The construction industry is starting to adopt new technologies, but according to one expert it's important to consider the specific needs and culture of a company when using new software.

The construction industry is starting to adopt new technologies, but according to one expert it's important to consider the specific needs and culture of a company when using new software.

Lauren Hasegawa, the co-founder of construction software company Bridgit, was the presenter for the Technology Applications: What Fits Your Biz? session at the Vancouver Regional Construction Association’s (VRCA) Construction Learning Forum held recently in Whistler, B.C.

Hasegawa said she first noticed inefficiencies on worksites as an intern during her education as a civil engineer.

“What struck me most strongly was how paper-based most sites were at the time,” she said.

Bridgit allows contractors to record deficiencies and assign them to the appropriate contractor with email notifications.

Software-as-a-Service (SAAS) is a way of delivering applications over the internet as a service, either on a desktop or a mobile device.

But, Hasegawa explained that when using SAAS applications such as Bridgit, it is important for companies to understand the advantages and disadvantages.

“The advantages of this approach are that there are no upfront costs, access is from everywhere and manual updates are not required,” she said.

SAAS also allows true collaboration between teams, she said, while stand-alone apps mean exporting a version of a blueprint or document and sharing it.

“That can lead to confusion between parties as to what is currently being worked on,” Hasegawa said.

Companies looking into SAAS software also have to consider how long it will take for people to learn the software.

“The time it takes to onboard your team onto a software solution is a critical element to consider,” she said.

Many existing software solutions are quite comprehensive, and lots of features equals lots of training.

“Think efficiency vs. fluff,” Hasegawa said.

Companies can also get caught in “buy now or buy later” limbo, she said, due to rapid changes that can make once cutting edge software outdated fairly quickly.

“Look for a solution that has proven its ability to adapt quickly,” she said.

The software has to deliver a competitive advantage, she said, including the ability to make data-driven decisions throughout the project, as well as when assembling the project team.

The software should also show a history of timely project delivery and demonstrate superior subcontractor management, as well as delivering increased efficiency onsite, she said.

Best practices for rolling out new software in a company include asking for feedback from one’s team and paying attention to it.

“Only the person using the software can truly assess its value,” Hasegawa added.

Another factor to consider is if your team will like using the software.

Full team buy-in is 100 per cent necessary when adopting a software solution.

“If your team likes using the software solution, then they will use it, period,” she said.

Learning from peers is the best way to learn the software, Hasegawa said.

It’s also important to identify leaders within the team who understand the software, then empower them to help others.

“New software is also a great opportunity for younger workers to take a leadership role,” she said.

For extensive blog and video coverage from the VRCA’s 3rd Annual Construction Learning Forum visit www.journalofcommerce.com.

by Warren Frey

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