How to find the right approach to I.T. in your construction business

You’ve done it, you’ve built a successful construction company from the ground up. You have a great team, developed a great brand reputation, and everything is smooth sailing.

That is, until you can’t find that all-important file that you need urgently, the server goes down leading to a missed tender submission or, worse, you can’t get your data back online.

These are the real-world issues that many construction companies face. These issues are costing the construction industry millions.

So, how can you avoid these issues effecting you? Good news, with the right technology partner, it’s ridiculously simple.

That is why we’ve decided to outline the three things to look for so you can overcome the jargon and make the right decision.

The Proactive vs Reactive Approach

Most people – including those in the Construction industry – aren’t grounded in technology, so IT is often an afterthought. This is all fine until a situation arrives where this happens:

“Wait, did the server just go down? Why can’t I access the estimating software?”

“Oh no, the tender deadline is just a few hours away and, if things don’t get back up soon, you’re going to miss the submission deadline.”

This is an all-too-common story, unfortunately, and one that is so easily avoidable.

Our solution is simple.

You either need to have a proactive approach to technology or you need look for a local technology provider that does.

The truth is though, while any company you go with will promise great support, finding a company that does anything more than react to an issue is no small feat.

Sure, you could say that makes sense: “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”. But the problem with that thinking is, when it breaks, it not only costs more than a pro-active approach, but it also creates a ton of stress and can lead to expensive missed deadlines.

Andrew is a great example of this. Andrew was one of our original clients and the reason why we no longer take a reactive approach to technology. When Andrew first came to us, we were relatively green, and he told us that all he wanted us to do was the bare minimum when it came to technology.

We begrudgingly agreed while highlighting the risks associated with that.

Late at night, Andrew was working on a last-minute tender. It was due the next morning and his estimating software was not working on the server.

Understandably stressed out by the situation, he contacted our helpdesk asking for urgent assistance. Luckily enough, we have a great resource that is available to all our clients for after hour emergencies and he was able to fix the issue within 2 hours. Andrew submitted the tender by the skin of his teeth and eventually won the tender, worth millions of dollars.

Of course, this is a story of us coming to the rescue and is an absolute compliment to the service we provided (which I hope most technology companies would do). However, the fact that we had to come to the rescue outlined a dire issue, with not just us, but the entire industry on IT Managed Service Providers that all take a reactive response. We have decided that since then that we will only take a proactive response to make sure that technology doesn’t fail in the first place because the savings outweigh the costs and avoid a tonne of stress.

We therefore recommend, regardless of whether you use us or anyone else, that you make sure whoever you engage offers a proactive rather than reactive service. If they offer a “block hour” service or don’t offer a proactive “managed” service, run for the hills. In the short term, this may seem like a good idea, because these sorts of packages are less than paying for a full managed service agreement. However, in the long term you will be forking out much more for emergency fixes and lost productivity. Over the next 10 years, you would only need one emergency like Andrew experienced to potentially lose business worth millions of dollars.

Can I profit from my technology?

Another problem caused by a reactive technology approach is that they overlook the ROI that technology can produce. Our team are constantly onboarding clients that are always letting their clients down, missing deadlines and spending big dollars on extra labour due to inefficiencies.

This is exactly why I recommend that all construction companies look for a technology partner, preferably someone with a construction tech background, to do an annual capability and efficiency audit. I find it always leads to HUGE ROI and improves the customer experience, leading to many more referrals.

Bevan is a great example of this. You see, he owns a owns a long-standing Civil and Commercial Construction business. He’s been at it for 30 years and has constructed some fantastic buildings in regional Australia. His knowledge of IT was minimal, after all, he is a builder at heart and IT was not really at the top of his priorities.

I couldn’t believe he was still leveraging a paper-based system. Bevan knew he needed to evolve, but he was at a loss to how to even get started. I soon partnered with Bevan and his team and made him realise that his paper-based system was costing him tens of thousands of dollars per project. He could avoid the stress of delivering a project late and having to deal with liquidated damages.

He did have a technology support contract with a provider, but they were the kind of “call us if something breaks and rush over to help” kind of business.

Within a matter of days, we’d identified one project management system that would allow for quick adoption and save him an average of $30,000 a project. This formerly old school business owner was excited about each innovation that we implemented.

Of course, I suggested to Bevan we should baby step these transformations; however, it just goes to show the power of a proactive and informed approach.

Thirty thousand dollars in savings per project may not sound significant to a construction business with a 5 – 10-million-dollar revenue, but that was a substantial addition to the overall profit for Bevan’s business as the lack of efficiency was causing them to have a very low profit line. All this came from an audit and implementation at a fraction of the cost of the extra profit produced.

While this was an extreme circumstance, regardless of how many construction companies we come across, not a year goes by where we don’t find a way to find more savings than we cost. I would suggest if your provider were not doing this, then you need to speak to them and see if there is a way to have them do an audit on your business practices, process and systems as soon as possible. Remember that your IT professional will be able to negotiate prices with technology vendors far better than you because they deal with them day in and day out, understand the terminology and the vendors don’t see them as an easy target.

Most companies’ data is safe. If that was only true.

The problem today in our globally connected world is that although we lock up our office when we all leave, we often leave the backdoor open for anyone that wants to come in. That means that predators can get into your systems from anywhere around the world.

Just like you have insurance for your business against fire damage, you must back up your servers to the cloud to make sure the worst does not happen.

A great example of that is that when we first met Rob, who was the owner of a successful, young construction company. He was proud of his technology stack. He thought he knew more than others with technology, and he thought he had redundancy in place to protect his business.

This was true; Rob’s IT was better than the average construction business and it was certainly miles ahead of Bevan’s paper-based office.  Bevan would have lost everything if his PC had a bad hard drive. Rob at least had some protection in place.

However, we helped him understand that while he was protected from power surges and crashes, it doesn’t protect him from the outside world, and the things that he lets into the server through the internet every day.

After implementing a cloud-based backup system for Rob’s business, in the worst-case scenario, nothing would happen except maybe one day’s loss of productivity. That may sound horrific, until you consider the alternative.

As you can see, while technology can be complicated, your technology doesn’t have to be complicated.

The goal for any successful construction business owner is to not buy in to the technology jargon. If they can’t speak your language, and they can’t do the 3 things below, send them packing.

You want to confirm:

  • They have a proactive approach
  • They are going to look for technology that increase productivity and profitability
  • They will protect you from the predators in the outside world

One of the things that we specialise in at the Downtime Assassin is ensuring that no matter which IT company you go with, it is the right one.

If you would like some strategies on how to select the right IT Provider, you are welcome to click here to download our free guide.

Alternatively, if you would like to talk to us about how we can help you with that selection and ensure all the right things are handled on your behalf you are welcome to schedule a call by clicking here.

To a safer and more productive future – The Downtime Assassin

Ready to Increase efficiency and reduce downtime?