Guest Contributor: Matthew Wagoner, PeerAssist
Controlling for the unexpected is one of the greatest challenges for the construction industry. Clearly no one can predict the future, but those who plan ahead and put processes in place are more likely to be ready when something unexpected happens.
Consider this scenario: a large group representing many trades is working on several buildings at once. Under a tight deadline, the owner has moved forward on portions of the interior without the roofs being completed. It is risky, but the weather is usually mild this time of the year. Unfortunately, there’s a rainstorm, and then another — the first wave in a long line of storms to follow that year. The rain ruins the interior work, and the result is a scramble among all the trades to coordinate and collaborate with each other to get the job done as fast as possible.
However, coming to a consensus quickly can have challenges. Construction projects often involve hundreds of participants dispersed over various locations communicating by cell phone, text message, email, and in-person meetings on the jobsite. This complicated web of communication can lead to fragmented information that often becomes the cause of mistakes and misunderstandings. In the construction industry, there is a clear correlation between the number of players and moving parts and the chance of mishaps, errors and rework. The best way to respond to potential disruption is to have the tools in place to be more agile, risk-tolerant and communicative.
People and Technology
Michael Jordan was once quoted for saying, “talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence win championships.” While construction is essentially a knowledge-based industry that depends on the steady flow of information in day-to-day activities, the potential for collaborative work has not been fully realized. Some barriers to adoption have included a dependence on traditional, manual processes along with siloed applications that are difficult to learn and unable to share information with other technology being used.
But all is not lost. The industry’s weakness may be its strength. While there may be ever-increasing numbers of players on construction projects, these participants form the basis of a communication network. As the industry matures into its embrace of technology, three key characteristics of successful adoption have made themselves clear:
- Every technology should closely align with the needs of the people using it while also meeting the company’s business goals.
- Cloud computing has grown in popularity as it allows for more mobility and ease in file storage, sharing and communication.
- Platforms should be accessible and easy to learn while maintaining the potential to integrate with a variety of other applications.
Same Problem: Different Lens
What can the different players who make up the project team learn from each other? This is perhaps the most overlooked opportunity of field technology in construction and key to building the network. PeerAssist has done the research on how various roles and responsibilities can be unified into one seamless application that is designed to improve communication and foster teamwork.
Allowing groups from different departments to collaborate on tasks and share information in real time is a primary functionality in both PeerAssist Field Work Order and General Contractors Portal. PeerAssist was built by people with first-hand experience of everyday practices on the jobsite and a deep understanding of what successful collaboration via technology looks like. PeerAssist goal is to provide cross-platform mobile applications for the field that will grow with the industry as digital transformation progresses.
When construction technologies can better co-exist and complement one another, the contractor benefits from improved collaboration, communication and coordination.
Matthew Wagoner is the CEO of PeerAssist, which helps subcontractors manage contract changes and out-of-scope work while giving general contractors the ability to consolidate information and stay up to date.