The process of adopting new construction technology in your business can seem painful. One of the big concerns is that it will be difficult to train and encourage the field teams to use it. After all, if you make an investment in a new piece of technology, you don’t want to discover that your field teams are not willing to use it and the investment goes down the drain. We have listed 5 ways you can work with your field teams to make the transition to a new technology a smooth ride.
1. Include your team in the conversation
Make your team a part of the conversation when deciding on a new tool. Not just your immediate team. Bring the field teams in on the discussion as well and let them voice their opinion. Do you know how they feel about taking on board a new piece of construction technology? By simply bringing them into the conversation and letting them raise their thoughts and concerns they are more likely to work with the new tool, regardless of whether they fully agree with it or not. At least now they have been a part of the conversation and had a chance to raise their concerns. After all, technology is meant to improve collaboration in the field and office. Why undermine the collaborative aspect in the decision making process and then demand it once the decision has been made? This doesn’t mean you are looking for a unanimous decision from all teams, taking into account every opinion before you make a decision. No, that is neither practical nor useful. But what you’ll find is that your team feel like they are a part of the adoption of the new technology and that their opinion matters, which it does. This will completely change how the team respond to the technology once it is deployed on site. You might also find that their collective input highlights something you have missed and will help guide the decision on what tool to invest in.
2. Explain the benefit to the team
In the decision making process, and once the technology is in place on site, explain to the team how this is going to make their lives easier on an individual basis. What’s in it for them? You can’t expect to successfully implement something new and possibly disruptive on your site if there is no benefit to the people who will physically use the technology. So educate your field teams on what they benefit from it. Does it reduce their admin time? Does it protect their health? Maybe it will allow them to go home an hour earlier each day? Whatever it may be, make sure your field team are aware of it. It will make a massive difference in getting them on board.
3. Invest time with the team
New technology in construction is an investment. It requires an upfront capital cost that you are expecting to make a return on in the future. But it isn’t enough to invest a chunk of money and hope it will work out. You need to invest time in the team as well. Since the field team will be using it, make sure you invest time into teaching them the technology as well as schedule frequent follow ups for the next 3-6 months. This may seem like a commitment you can’t afford, but in all reality, you probably can’t afford not to. Try scheduling a few days up front where your team will receive training in the new tool before it is implemented. This allows time for them to test it out in a stress-free setting, and makes room for questions and answers. Once it has been implemented into day to day operations, schedule follow up training with the team. This helps in maintaining their knowledge and skill in the technology and allows for more questions based on their on site experience with it. This is a process well worth while as you will notice that over time, the technology becomes second nature to the team and is infused in your organisation.
4. Close the habit loop
Making sure everyone is involved and takes ownership of the adoption of the new technology is important. If you leave it fully in the hands of the field teams, they could easily stop using the new technology after a few weeks and fall back into old habits. If superintendents, foreman, and project managers all take ownership, everyone can keep reminding each other at the beginning of each day and week. This way, all teams help each other form an organisational habit that will significantly help with adoption. The quicker this is done, the more you will reap from your investment. To further reinforce the habit, it’s equally important to continuously give the field team feedback on how the technology is providing value to the wider organisation. What benefit has the organisation seen since the technology was deployed on site? How have the field team’s efforts contributed to the company? Making the team feel like they are part of something and showcasing that their work is important has significant value in solidifying the feedback loop.
5. Focus on a small group first
If your company isn’t used to onboarding new technologies, it can be useful to begin by focusing on one project first, or one group of your projects field team. This will help you better understand what the reactions are going to be so you can prepare a set of procedures for a full, company-wide implementation. Additionally, it will help you with setting expectations for how the team will use the software. Most software companies will offer a pilot or trial of their product at a significantly discounted rate. This is a perfect opportunity to try the software on a specific project or team. Not only does it give you a better idea of how the software can help your projects, but it will also give you an opportunity to test your field teams in adopting new technologies. With the trend of digital technologies entering the construction sector, it is very important to have an agile team that can adapt to new technologies quickly. Use this time to train your workforce in this skill.
When you are investing in a new piece of construction technology, you want to make sure the investment pays off. If you follow these simple steps, the investment will give you a higher return and you will be left with a happier and more efficient field team. Furthermore, once you have developed a successful implementation process, there is nothing stopping you from applying these same principles next time you invest in a new piece of technology for your construction site.