As technology has steadily evolved and improved, so has construction companies' ability to improve their own operational efficiency. For any operations teams, but especially in the industry of construction, it’s vital that technology is used to its utmost potential for this very reason.
The ‘natural’ emergence of technology stacks and the increasing imperative for companies to invest in stacks reflects this as well.
So, what is an operations technology stack and why should construction teams build one? In this article, you’ll find everything you need to know about constructing your own technology stack to ensure your business stacks up in a 21st century economy!
Operations technology refers to any hardware and software that can be used to monitor, control or utilise different equipment, processes, projects and processes. In the construction industry, your operations is a somewhat of a catch-all term for everything from design and procurement all the way to physical construction.
The term “tech stack” is just a jargon phrase to refer to a set of different technologies that are used together. The better assembled the stack is and the more the operations technology within the stack seamlessly integrates, the better a construction company’s ability is to operate more efficiently, cost effectively and sustainably.
As technology has improved, the ability for companies across industries to automate tasks and reduce the number of obstacles has only increased. Operations tech stacks take that to a whole new level. By using a select number of technologies in unison, construction companies can improve both the overall functioning of their business as well as their ability to monitor and optimise that very functioning.
This can have a direct impact on project turnarounds, minimising risks and monitoring everything from the actual construction to the allocation of budgets. Tech stacks are being used across industries, from the health sector to marketing, and as a construction company it’s just as important that you invest the time, effort and money into your own stack.
While tech stacks offer unrivalled interoperability and operations streamlining, it’s critical that you follow a number of essential steps in building your own stack.
Strategy is absolutely key in all company decisions: building a tech stack included!
Make sure you know what the shared goal is behind your project. What are your main objectives and how can technology be used to achieve them? Without an overall business strategy, it can be hard to know what technologies to focus on and moreover how to even assess the success of those tech solutions once you’ve implemented them.
Even though we’re focusing on building a technology stack in this article, it’s important to note - technology may not be the solution to everything. (Remember the cautionary saying: “When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”) In your strategy building, it’s important to ascertain what you’re trying to achieve with each part of your workflow and what the best solutions are to solve it. This could be through a tech product, but maybe it can be solved by people, existing solutions used in a different way, or the humble pen and paper.
Without the right people and a symbiotic team environment, even the best construction operations tech stacks are going to fall short of expectations. How you structure your own team depends a lot on the particulars of your company.
Nonetheless, having a dedicated team to oversee and manage both the building and implementation of the tech stack will ensure that your investment sees requisite returns. If this requires you to re-assign or even hire more team members, make sure to consider this in your cost projections. Which takes us to…
There are two ways to go about determining a budget when building your stack. You can either set aside specific allocations for particular types of hardware/software (we’ll go through some options a little later.), or you can set a budget for each strategy/operations goal.
Knowing what investment you are willing and able to make will help your operations team focus on the technology that will offer the most value for money.
There’s no need to tell anyone in the construction industry how important a strong foundation is. When constructing your tech stack ensure that you have a strong understanding of how you plan on implementing and connecting these new technologies and processes.
The better you set out your workflow, tools, teams, strategy and communication scaffolding, the easier it will be once you have assembled your stack to actually implement it effectively.
As your tech stack begins to take shape, consider what gaps remain in your workflows. Do the operations technologies you’re engaging facilitate those gaps or do you need to look for an additional piece of tech?
By the same token you might find that multiple technologies are providing the same utility and that there is a certain redundancy in your stack. The earlier on in the process that you can identify where your tools either don’t connect or overlap, the less hassle it will be to integrate a new or amended solution.
A strong operations tech stack will improve the day-to-day operational capacity of your company as well as ensure you remain competitive in the market. However, tech stacks are not “set and forget” projects, but require a continuous commitment of monitoring, managing and improving. Ensuring your workflow actually flows, your data is being monitored and your tech remains connected requires ongoing time and effort.
If or when you need to fine tune your stack with additional apps or integrate new technology to replace sub-optimally performing tech, the quicker you are able to do, so the easier and less painful the entire process will be.
Construction companies need seamless collaboration from the office to the building site, and even relatively small projects require significant management to ensure everything runs smoothly.
Consider project management software as the bedrock of your operations tech stack. Example: Monday.com.
Modelling in the construction process provides better collaboration and communication. BIM software allows for quicker, better design and planning as well as efficient internal communication and project development.
There are different options for BIM in the market depending on the scope and nature of your particular construction projects, including Birdi. Another BIM example: BIM 360 by Autodesk.
Not only is VR imaging being used more and more throughout the construction industry, but wearable technology is becoming increasingly popular too. These once futuristic types of solutions provide construction teams more realistic concepts of what projects are meant to look like and help to track progress throughout construction.
Many VR and wearable technology can work with your BIM as well. Example: VREX.
Capturing, collating and transmitting data throughout the progress of your construction job is similarly reliant on having the right technology supporting your operations.
Here at Birdi, we specialise in helping construction companies improve their operations by providing on-demand drone data capture (or you can capture yourself if you have drones at hand) and visualisation of drone captured images within our platform for real-time construction progress reporting.
Your tech stack is only as good as its ability to help you continually check the pulse of your operations, and should be monitored regularly to ensure your operations are as streamlined as they could be. With a well-optimised operations tech stack, your construction project will be humming in no time!