Construction IT: Using the right tool for the job

Ian Hauptfleisch, general manager of Construction Computer Software (Gulf), explains why having the right IT tools is crucial for any project

Accuracy, safety and efficiency of resources on a construction project is considered paramount to contractors. If we don’t use the right tools, equipment, systems and processes, then quality, speed and safety will be compromised.
So why don’t we apply the same notion to the IT solutions we choose to implement in contracting organisations?

The purpose of IT is to streamline business processes, increase accuracy and efficiency, provide auditable and accurate information, reduce cumbersome and error-ridden manual capture(s), collation and analysis, and most importantly to save you time and money. Can this be said of the IT solutions you have in place right now?

IT is in essence just another tool – but an essential one, considering its widespread application in all aspects of a construction business. Admittedly, software doesn’t make people work, but rather vice versa – the cliché ‘what you put in is what you get out’ rings true. However, software must be purpose-oriented and provide the necessary platform, features, functions and ease of use to make input a formality and timely, reliable and accurate output a reality.

IT solutions are either earning or costing you money. The construction industry is unique, considering the many variables associated with it, and it is for this very reason that the IT solution(s) procured and implemented to manage these challenges are best of brand and fit for purpose. The standard accounting data that most systems can provide is not sufficient, relevant or timely enough for effective control of construction projects.

Processes and procedures imposed by companies are often there to compensate for the inadequacies of the software solutions in place. The overhead involved in implementing and complying with these superfluous processes and procedures is costly. If the software is fit for purpose, the best practice processes and procedures should be intrinsic to the software itself.

Considerations when reviewing an IT solution for the construction environment:
– Be cautious of the ‘we’ll customise it for you’ pitch. If the software fits the purpose, no or minimal
customisation should be required.
– Don’t be sold on dreamware. See the software work and arrange to meet existing users.
– Be wary of funding the IT vendor’s research and development costs. If the system is fit for purpose, no further
R&D should be necessary.
– Does the IT vendor understand your business intimately?
– Quality and locality of support – get existing users’ impartial opinions on their support and service experience.
– Access to development staff, not just salesman or technicians.
– Expect to pay – if a system is worth it and has the credentials to prove it, the savings made and reduction of
losses will easily and quickly offset the cost.
– It doesn’t happen overnight – there is a learning curve and settling-in time associated with any new software

Last but not least:

– Software doesn’t make people work, people make software work. Implementing the best solution in the market but
not having the right buy-in and personnel to drive and champion it is akin to having the best F1 racing car –
driven by a jockey.


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