Episode 28 – Laura Taylor
How To Successfully Implement New Technology Into Your Construction Company
LiveCosts welcomes Laura Taylor back to The LiveCosts Podcast. Laura is the director and founder of Empowered by Cloud. Laura and Ciaran discuss how a construction company can successfully implement new technology into their business.
Has COVID changed the construction industry’s view on technology?
Ciaran – “Firstly, I wanted to start off, Laura, with, obviously, we’re in the mix of this call where we can’t escape it, what are you seeing on the ground there? Has COVID changed the way construction companies view technology, do you think?”
Laura – “I think so. And I think the reason that it’s changing the way that people are viewing it is just because people were caught out a little bit. So when COVID-19 hit, they didn’t potentially have the information that they needed to make decisions. You know, where was a project? People didn’t know. They didn’t know at what stage they were at, they didn’t know where their finances were at, they didn’t know where their cash flow was at. So I think, in some ways, it’s given people a little bit of a wake up call, and now they recognize that they need something. And I think construction is one of the industries that is farthest behind in terms of digital.”
Construction companies need technology to improve areas of their business, why do some not want it?
Ciaran – “One of the biggest learning curves for me personally from going to say construction business operator into construction technology, when we first start doing the homework and we spoke to, God, it must be over 100 construction business owners, we discovered that everybody needed a better way to manage construction finances. Absolutely needed it, and they agreed with it, but they didn’t want it. Someone just didn’t want it. Is that something that you see regularly, is that they know they need it, they just don’t want it, and why do you think that is?”
Laura – “I think, again, it’s fear. A lot of it can be fear of the unknown and potentially … I always say that people in construction have potentially been accidental business owners. They’ve got into their trades, they’ve been really, really good at what they do and the business has grown to the point that they need somebody to take somebody else on. And then they take somebody else on, and then before they know it, they’ve got a business and actually that’s not what they set out to do.
So now you’re looking at finance systems, you’re looking at costing systems and all these different things, and I think it can be fear. But what we find is the businesses that are really pushing ahead, push through that pain, because it is. There’s a hard ball to get over to get to the next level. And it’s if you were to think about even a game, a computer game is like you’ve got something that you’ve got to get over to get to the next point that you need to get to.”
Ciaran – “Yeah. No, absolutely.”
Why does implementing new construction technology fail for some businesses?
Ciaran – “Why then, in your opinion, does it fail? Why hasn’t it worked for some companies?”
Laura – “I think it really comes down to the people in the business. If there’s somebody that has got the bit between their teeth and really wants to change things and who really wants to push on, they will make that work. You often see the people and businesses just say, “Okay, we need to figure out a way to do.” We go, “Okay, the way that we would do that is do X, Y, Z,” and they go, “Right. Okay, that’s fine.”
“Other people can put up barriers and can be a bit more negative about it, or, “Oh, it doesn’t do that. Well, that means it doesn’t work.” Generally, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t work. It just means that there’s a system that’s been designed with a process. Often, that’s a better process than potentially the business might have, but because they’re very ingrained in how they were doing things, that could be more difficult. I think a software implementation project only ever fails based on the people rather than based on the product.”
Ciaran – “No, that’s true, because if the product works for 50, a hundred other companies similar to you, there’s a good chance it will work for you, but as you say, if the people don’t get buy-in, it’s difficult to fully-”
Laura – “There has to be a compromise somewhere, because it’s not written bespoke for a business. It’s not written bespoke for a hundred different businesses, because it will be just little differences amongst those businesses. It has to be an acceptance of, “Let’s get 90% boxed off and let’s make things 90% better.” If there’s no 10%, we’ve got a compromise there to make because there’s something we do that potentially our software program doesn’t do.”
Ciaran – “Absolutely.”
Laura – “It’s not a deal breaker. As long as you get, let’s say, your three top areas that you want to cover off that are your deal breakers. If the software can tick those boxes, then it’s better to go with it than to stick in the mud for another three years hoping that there’s something else going to come out that ticks every box, because ultimately that won’t happen unless you get something bespoke.”
Ciaran – “Absolutely.”
Best tips to successfully implement new construction technology
Ciaran – “So let’s break it into a focal point then. We’ve sort of ran through the process of how we get here and why it doesn’t work for some companies. So, I suppose, what tips would you have then for a construction company thinking about taking it new technology?”
Laura – “Bring everyone along the way. So everyone that’s going to be involved in the process, bring them into the conversation and into the planning so that they’re aware of what the businesses is considering and they feel included. I think often if people have something imposed on them, okay this is … “We’re not going to take everything that’s comfortable to you and give you something different.” You feel a bit, “Oh, I don’t really like that feeling.”
Ciaran – “So I think bringing people along the way is really key. Ensuring that you’ve got somebody in the business that is driving it, because if you don’t have somebody that’s really, it’s really in their mind that it’s absolutely vital that we get this product into the business. If you don’t have that, it can be even more difficult to implement.”