6 Traits of a Great Construction Technology Partnership
In construction, it’s easy to look at a software investment as a one and done transaction. After all, technology is about limiting human interactions, right?
In construction, it’s still all about people. It’s people who fund projects, design buildings, source materials, work together to construct habitable dwellings, and operate and maintain them later. Construction without humans is impossible. Therefore, the most useful technology bridges people together, creating better, unique partnerships that you’re unable to achieve through traditional mediums or efforts.
It’s true that creating collaboration and improving communication internally is the goal of any quality software in the building industry. But it is also critical to establish a partnership with the technology provider you are using, too, to get the most value from your investment.
That means first getting the right software, of course. Today, the construction technology landscape can feel a bit like the Wild West. There are so many options, serving so many different niches, but it’s essential you choose one with whom you can build a long-term partnership. This is incredibly valuable to your growth and success as a business, so look for software companies that are already actively seeking technology partnership in construction.
Let’s explore the why and how. But first, let’s hear from Kristina Poluyanova, Customer Success Manager, EMEA at Autodesk and our customer, Mark Danaher, Technical Services Manager at Kirby Group Engineering around how we’re stronger together through our partnership.
Ask Yourself: Do You Want a Vendor or a Partner?
Many people confuse signing on with a vendor as forging a true construction technology partnership. But vendors and partners are not always the same, and you need to make sure you’re forging relationships with the right service providers, the ones that understand that being a vendor is not enough.
Why is that? Consider vendors as more strictly transactional businesses, whereas a partner is a company you’re invested in and can plan strategically with long-term–and vice versa. There’s a much stronger emphasis on your satisfaction, which helps you leverage the product increasingly effectively rather than just dusting off your hands and calling it good.
“A vendor sells you a one-off service or solution, while a partner will provide a solution and sit down with you to help solve challenges,” says Matthew Hamann, Integrated Services Manager at Saunders Construction.
So the question is: Do you want a pure vendor? Or do you really want a partner? If it’s the latter, seek out the software companies that are looking for collaboration, because they’re the ones who will provide you with the highest ROI in the end.
The Benefits of Building a Relationship with Your Software Vendor
When you build a construction technology partnership, you do more than forge a relationship to strengthen your career network. You also:
- Improve employee adoption, with more of your workers using and leveraging the benefits of the software
- Increase your return from using the software
- Affect product changes in the future with a direct line to your partner
- Get first access to innovations, even in Beta, and insight into the company’s roadmap
- Impress current and future customers by leveraging promotional opportunities such as increased press coverage
- Solve fundamental business problems with your partner together
6 Characteristics of a Good Technology Partner
So what makes for a good construction technology partnership? These following six characteristics are an excellent place to start.
1. Creates a Sense of Trust
Like any good relationship, your partnership should be built on mutual trust. Of course, who you are working with plays a significant role in this, but you must also trust that the product is going to help achieve your business goals.
“A successful partnership is rooted in trust where both companies feel that they can engage in an open and honest conversation with one another,” says Todd Williams, Technology Director at CRB. “This is the foundation to any successful relationship and creates a more engaging experience that allows our team to adopt technology to reach our short-term and long-term business goals.”
In today’s digital world, it is also essential to consider security as part of that circle of trust. Do you know if your tech partner is securely storing your data? Do they value cybersecurity practices and certifications? If you can’t confidently answer yes, it’s time to get answers or start searching for other options.
2. Builds Love Internally
The second hallmark of an excellent construction technology partnership is how your employees feel. Your workers should love the tech you are using, or at least not feel the need to gripe. You can build this buy-in by choosing a solution that meets your team’s criteria and is easy and intuitive. It shouldn’t burden them to use it; ultimately it should make their lives easier.
How well implementation goes is a big part of building that love internally. If it’s not easy to onboard your employees, then you won’t generate buy-in. Good software offers hands-on, customized training opportunities for your team to become power users.
And while, in some cases, it should be possible for your team to get up and running using the technology with minimal training, it’s important that your tech partner offers opportunities for your team to get more out of it. This further builds your bond with real humans at the company.
“My job is to make sure that we provide solutions that allow our teams to do their jobs more efficiently,” says Cliff Cole, Director Director of Virtual Design & Construction at PENTA Building Group. “A partnership is essential to ensure that our teams have the support that they need to successfully adopt a solution that solves day-to-day challenges.”
3. Scales With You
Any construction technology partnership must be able to grow with you. That’s why when you choose software, you should think about being in it for the long term. Never look at software as a short term fix, but as a scalable platform that offers different and connected solutions for your changing needs and projects.
Finally, as you expand to a mature, enterprise business, a solid technology partner will be able to help you standardize software workflows across the organization, various locations, and more.
“When you’re using software, there is an integration period that needs to happen,” says Danaher. “Many construction firms think of software as a silver bullet, but that’s not true. The only way for software to grow and support a firm’s business is by having a partner to assist in technology adoption and measure success to customize and grow a solution that supports our needs.”
4. Partners with Your Partners
There’s no construction technology partnership if your software partner can’t make nice with your other partners. This means open APIs (or application programming interfaces), access, and robust integration platforms.
“Having a partner that enables simple integrations with third-party applications is extremely valuable for us. It’s the only way to truly achieve a seamless flow on a construction site, within a company, and frankly within our whole industry,” says Maximilian Schuetz, Managing Director at Goldbeck USA.
Savvy partners know that companies have different needs and need multiple solutions to help their businesses thrive. They should unlock and integrate data and information, rather than bottleneck it, creating a software ecosystem tailored to a firm’s unique business needs.
5. Always There for You
Customer support and relationships are essential to any good partnership. Your partner wants you to be successful, and you should be able to have candid conversations about how you find more success. Look for partners who have an excellent reputation in providing customer support and service. After all, in construction, you need answers fast and a support channel can make all the difference in meeting deadlines and making important decisions.
“A successful technology partner will help you define a path for success and ensure that you are leveraging the right technology at the right time in order to grow your business,” says Williams. “That mutual respect and knowledge-sharing is what builds a successful relationship.”
Proactive communication is also essential for this partnership to work. Does your technology partner in construction tell you about important updates before you see them online? If issues do occur, are you confident your partner will be first to let you know before you discover them yourself? You need to answer a resounding “yes” to these questions, or you can’t feel confident about the future. Once again, without trust, there’s no partnership.
6. Values and Asks for Your Feedback
Lastly, partnerships are a two-way street. A construction technology partnership requires that your software company do more than fulfill requests. They should also ask for and listen to your feedback on products, services, or the relationship in general. You must feel comfortable reaching out with ideas, or you will find yourself hamstrung at some point in the future, guaranteed.
“The value in partnering in beta programs is that you can directly influence the impact a product has across the industry. And that’s an integral part of any technology partnership,” says Gert-Jan Ditsel, BIM Manager at Dura Vermeer. “This drives value and creates a stronger relationship as you can see how your partner’s product roadmap will influence your company’s technology journey.”
Another bonus of a fruitful partnership is additional opportunities for spotlights on official channels for you to share your experience with others and connect to industry insiders. For instance, Autodesk’s Construction Champion Program allows product users to forge deeper relationships with the company and build a better industry in general.
A Future of Construction Technology: Building Lasting Partnerships
Finally, a good construction technology partnership is one in which you’re both committed for long-term.
“Having a relationship where you can have direct conversations and bounce ideas off one another to solve challenges is critical to a successful partnership,” says Hamann.
There’s no reason to sign a 10-year contract, but you do want to find a partner that shows every indication of sticking around for good. If you wish to create a partnership for life, take the time to consider your choices, interview them, review their websites, and speak to their delighted clients. Good people and good partners. Period.