Nick Woodrow |

Are you using digital in an analogue way – what would Henry Ford think?

Surely the construction industry’s technology revolution is well under way; BIM level 3 is ubiquitous and every site in the UK is bursting with drones, wearables, augmented reality and embedded sensors creating Big Data to link to the Internet of Things.

Well, that’s not quite right, many of us still rely on paper, wet signatures and personal spreadsheets. 

In an age demanding high-tech how do we throw away the “no-tech” comfort blankets?

Step 1 - Let’s embrace technology that everyone is comfortable with.  For example, reviewing documents.  We typically fall into one of two categories; those who prefer to print hard copies to mark-up, probably with a red pen and; those who are comfortable with tracked changes in a shared digital document.

Turning a paper process into the equivalent paper process on a screen is not a technological revolution, it’s using digital in an analogue way.  However, it is a critical step in adopting simple, collaborative technologies, proven to unlock significant productivity gains in the construction sector.  Make this small step and the activity shifts into a new collective space with far greater potential.

Construction sites are awash with checklists, trackers, sign off forms and various other seemingly archaic business processes.

Step 2 - Adopt an intelligent, collaborative digital solution to meet the needs of these tasks.  The check is automated, the tracking is shared and the sign off remote and instant.  The solution is aware of identified roles, party sensitivities and workflow validation, making navigation of sophisticated processes intuitive and efficient, whilst driving compliance and reducing commercial risk.

This doesn’t require high-tech solutions, rather a reframing of how processes are systematically achieved and a trust in simple technology that can make paper checklists, trackers and spreadsheets redundant.

‘But my project is unique?’

I expect when Henry Ford suggested that standard processes and an assembly line should be used rather than building each car one at a time, there were people telling him that their process was “different” or their project was “special”!

Standardisation has played a huge part in increasing productivity in other sectors such as manufacturing.  Whilst incremental progress is made by embracing emerging, cutting-edge technologies, there is significant opportunity for increased productivity by simply leveraging the technology that already exists.

Standard forms of contract like NEC have unlocked decades of transactional, adversarial and bespoke supplier relationship models.  SaaS solutions like CEMAR support and fuel this revolution in administrative efficiency and implementation of management best practice.

To make real and immediate productivity advances, let’s digitise our analogue activity.  Keep it simple using off the shelf SaaS and reap the benefit of eliminating paper, spreadsheets and confusion without a single drone or virtual reality headset in sight!


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