New Construction Survey Reveals a $177 Billion Industry Problem
For decades the construction industry has been watched as one of the last frontiers for a technological revolution—an industry ripe for digitization that could fuel productivity growth on par with its peers in manufacturing, oil and gas and other sectors that have successfully embraced technology. Even in recent years, technology and software options for construction firms were limited to legacy, desktop-based solutions that were built for managers and admins for office use only. In terms of technology, the needs of teams on the jobsite were left unaddressed, and improvements to field productivity and other operational benefits were not prioritized.
Due to the emergence and now pervasiveness of mobile devices, apps and software on construction jobsites, the industry has reached a turning point. Decisions about the use of technology are no longer confined to the needs and usage by office staff. Discussions have graduated to a new level of strategic thinking about which problems to address for whom, why and how to effectively deploy technology throughout organizations and in the field.
To better understand why and how construction technology decisions are made, we surveyed construction leaders and decision makers in our 2018 Construction Disconnected report commissioned from FMI. The report not only reveals key motivations for investment, but delves deep into the needs and influence of end-users, uncovers considerable costs associated specifically with poor project data and miscommunication, and challenges with how technology is deployed to teams.
To read the full report, you can download it here:
Below, we’ll also discuss more about the key findings and highlights from the report, in addition to our infographic.
Key Findings from the Construction Report
The global construction report surveyed nearly 600 construction professionals on how their teams spend time on the jobsite. Key findings include:
- Construction workers lose almost two full working days each week solving avoidable issues and searching for project information.
- Almost half of all rework is due to poor communication among project stakeholders, and poor project information.
- Workers are not taking full advantage of mobile devices and IT investments.
- Technology is expected to improve data management and increase productivity.
Now, let’s take a more detailed look at the findings from the construction report. Specifically, where does is the disconnect in construction with technology primarily exist and how can the industry move past these obstacles?
Identifying the Disconnect: Technology Investments vs. Priority Business Needs
The primary disconnects revealed in Construction Disconnected come from both ends of a construction-technology investment:
- Before the investment, when opportunities for improvement have been identified
- After the investment, when results and returns depend entirely on user adoption
Opportunities for Improvement: Poor Project Data, Miscommunication and Waste
Before an investment, the key reasons and considerations for purchasing technology are, in theory, prioritized based on the size and cost of the organizational problem or opportunity. However, the time and cost waste revealed in the report suggests companies could optimize their investment by re-prioritizing business needs.
The report found that respondents spend 35% of their time (over 14 hours per week) on non-productive activities including looking for project information, conflict resolution and dealing with mistakes and rework. In all, these non-optimal activities will cost the U.S. construction industry over $177 billion in labor costs in 2018 alone. Moreover, the time required in non-optimal activities take away from more pertinent activities such as project execution and coordination, communicating with project stakeholders and organizing the jobsite and people.
Respondents also shared that poor project data and miscommunication on projects is responsible for 48% of all rework in construction in the U.S., meaning that it will account for a total of $31.3 billion in rework in the U.S. alone in 2018.
Promisingly, with the right technology and implementation, there’s a huge potential to reduce the massive cost and time of rework from poor data and miscommunication. Nevertheless, the implementation strategy is critical to determining the effectiveness of technology to mitigate rework.
How Investment Impacts User Adoption
After purchasing technology, effective deployment and usage defines whether or not it is successful and a good fit. While the construction report shows that technology investments are made primarily to provide better access to data (58% of respondents) and improve productivity (57% of respondents), weak end-user adoption puts into question tactics involved in deploying it to teams, or even how those decisions are made and who is involved.
Companies are investing in mobile devices, but when it comes to investment in apps and software, end users are excluded from the purchase process and usage suffers. Point and case, while 75% of respondents give PMs and field superintendents mobile devices to support that endeavor, the potential of these devices for accessing data and improving productivity appears to be underutilized. In fact, only 18% of firms reported consistently using mobile apps to access project data and collaborate, other than use for sending email, text or making phone calls.
Construction Disconnected Infographic
To see a high-level overview of the construction report findings, view (and share) our latest infographic: