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New Survey Highlights Challenges and Opportunities in Preconstruction

The construction industry is rapidly transforming. According to a survey by AGC and FMI, 58% of construction professionals expect to see more technology-driven change within the next five years than there has been in the last 50 years. To stay ahead, preconstruction teams must adapt to the industry’s digital future. 

To better understand where they stand today, we surveyed over 1,000 preconstruction professionals about their relationship with technology. With only 37% of respondents reporting that they’re taking full advantage of the preconstruction software available to them, it’s clear that successful digital transformation requires more than purchasing software.   

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The Biggest Roadblocks to Technology Adoption 

When asked about the biggest roadblocks to adopting new technology, the number one answer was interrupting current projects and objectives (24%), followed by resistance to adoption by end users (18.2%), and lack of training (15.9%). Still, teams recognize the value of making a change: 62% of respondents agreed that adopting new technology leads to more successful outcomes, and 63% believe that adopting new technology will give their company a competitive edge. 

Many companies also struggle when it comes to navigating procurement. Most don’t have a clear process for purchasing new software, with 57.3% of our survey respondents reporting that they either don’t have a defined procurement process or aren’t sure what it is.  

[Does your company have a defined procurement process for software?] 

[Does your company have a defined procurement process for software?] 

Individual vs. Organizational Desire for Change 

Our survey also highlighted a gap between individual and organizational desire for change. Preconstruction professionals look to technology to improve the way they work: 74% of respondents said they’re open to learning about software that will help them do their jobs more effectively. However, only 18% feel their company is eager to adopt new software.   

13.2% of preconstruction professionals reported that they actively search for new software to make existing processes better. These are the change agents in an organization.  

[Which of the following statements do you most agree with?] 

[Does your company have a defined procurement process for software?] 

 Change agents have a unique opportunity to own the process of digital transformation for their respective workflow. This involves fully understanding the need, then advocating for a change with leadership. The initial change agents will build out the structure for adoption of new technology, then help bring supporters (50.5%), neutral participants (27.3%), and skeptics (9.1%) on board. 

One interesting finding to note: for BIM/VDC managers, the percentage of change agents rises to a staggering 45.2%—demonstrating that BIM/VDC managers are technology champions by nature and the perfect fit to drive digital transformation within their organization. 

Spotlight: Bidding for Subcontractors  

The right technology can transform a challenging bidding process into a well-oiled machine. However, it is important to differentiate between individual digital applications and an overarching digital solution. For example, while Excel is technically a digital tool, it is also an individual, stand-alone application. It exists in a silo and does not communicate with other tools without manual entry. Similarly, email is digital, but tracking bids through email can lead to gaps in communication and missed opportunities.  

This hodgepodge approach to going digital leads to less efficiency. Currently, 33% of subcontractors are using email to track bid invites, while 22% are using Excel. They’re also receiving bids from all over the place: 42% receive bids from 3-5 different channels, 18% receive bids from 5-7 channels, and 17% receive bids from more than 7 channels to manage bid invites.  

[How do you track your bid invites?]

how do you track your bid invites 

With so many channels involved, trying to manage bid invites manually through Excel or email simply isn’t sustainable for most subcontractors. The result? Important information gets lost, teams miss bid deadlines, and profits suffer.  

[How many different sources do you get bid invites from?]

how many different invites do you get bids from 

A cloud-based solution truly centralizes data and improves the entire bidding process. Having a single source of truth for all bidding information helps streamline processes, save time, and eliminate errors. While the process of going digital might not be bump-free, there has never been a better time to embark on this journey. Technology-driven efficiencies are vital to remain competitive and get ahead of the curve in today’s industry. 

Importance of Communication with Trade Partners 

When surveyed, general contractors noted that the top challenge of implementing new bid management software was onboarding subcontractors. However, only 6% of subcontractors said that general contractors notify them before they switch software. 

[If you’ve switched bid management solutions in the past few years, what has been the biggest challenge when implementing the new solution?] 

[If you've switched bid management solutions in the past few years, what has been the biggest challenge when implementing the new solution?] 

[Do general contractors notify you before switching bid management software?] 

Do general contractors notify you before switching bid management software?] 

[Rate your typical onboarding and training experience when switching to a general contractor’s new bid management platform] 

[Rate your typical onboarding and training experience when switching to a general contractor’s new bid management platform]  

When managing change, it is critical that no party is left in the dark. Building awareness around change must be the first step for any team.  

The good news is that there are more resources than ever to help make bidding online as easy as possible for subcontractors. When making this change, general contractors should be sure to emphasize the benefits to their trade partners. Every person will approach change with a question of what’s in it for them. For subcontractors, the benefits include efficiency, accuracy, and the potential to win more bids. Guiding subcontractors through a technology change can result in stronger relationships. 

Check Out Our “Winning with Digital Preconstruction” Series  

Facing these challenges, what does it take to achieve full-scale digital transformation in preconstruction? There’s no quick fix or easy solution, but by focusing on three key categories—technology, people, and process—preconstruction leaders can maximize the value of their software. 

Interested in learning more? Check out our “Winning with Digital Preconstruction” series: six ebooks aimed at preconstruction professionals of all kinds, from estimators to risk managers to BIM/VDC managers.   

For those who solicit bids from trade partners…  

For those who bid on projects as a subcontractor…  

For those who are involved in the quantification process…  

For those who are involved in model coordination…  

For those who are involved in risk management…  

For those leading preconstruction teams…  

If you haven’t already, be sure to register for our “Winning with Digital Preconstruction” virtual event on August 6th. It’s completely free to attend, and the best part is you can enjoy each session from the comfort of your home office. We hope you can join us! 

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McKenzie Gregory

McKenzie Gregory

Content Marketing Manager, Autodesk Construction Solutions