Preconstruction Support, Training Vital

The message is clear: as construction progresses into a new digital era, success will favor companies that empower their people with robust capabilities.

The message is clear: as construction progresses into a new digital era, success will favor companies that empower their people with robust capabilities.
The message is clear: as construction progresses into a new digital era, success will favor companies that empower their people with robust capabilities.
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The construction industry finds itself on the brink of a digital renaissance. As technology rapidly transforms the project life cycle, the preconstruction phase is undergoing its own digital makeover. The integration of advanced analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), and other innovations promises to bring newfound efficiency, insight, and collaboration to this critical planning stage.

To fully capitalize on the advantages of digital preconstruction, however, construction firms need more than just new tools, especially when considering the projected industry slowdown in 2024. According to the AIA, the industry will experience an average negative growth variation of -2% across commercial categories (office, retail, hotel). A soft landing for the overall economy might look like a significant growth slow-down for construction. 

Support and training are equally vital to smooth the adoption curve, optimize utilization, and achieve a meaningful return on technology investments. Without proper support and training, firms risk fumbling the transition and forfeiting the strategic edge that transformative preconstruction can provide.

Support services help configure systems, facilitate integrations between platforms, assist users in leveraging tools effectively, and promptly resolve any issues that arise. Likewise, training programs help build employee capabilities, facilitate change management, and foster cross-functional collaboration. Together, robust support and training provide a foundation upon which construction companies can unlock the immense potential of digital preconstruction.

Challenges of Preconstruction Adoption

The integration of new technologies and processes to digitally transform preconstruction brings immense possibility, but isn’t without its share of inevitable growing pains. Construction firms looking to modernize preconstruction face barriers to adoption that can only be overcome through extensive support and training.

According to JBKnowledge, a remarkable 60% of construction companies do not allocate a specific budget for research and development, with 35% identifying workforce limitations as the main hindrance to adopting new technology. Managing various individual solutions only compounds the bewilderment and discontent in the industry. Consequently, numerous professionals in the construction sector maintain a skeptical outlook on digital solutions.

One major challenge is that new tools and digital workflows often disrupt conventional preconstruction processes, making their adoption more difficult. For instance, switching from manual takeoffs to automated quantification technology changes a cost estimator's ingrained workflow, meaning pushback is likely without proper training and support.

There is also the potential resistance construction leaders can expect from staff accustomed to legacy processes, who lack knowledge of how new tools can enhance outcomes and fear the learning curve. Misconceptions about job security may also further reluctance toward digital change, highlighting the necessity for robust training to drive adoption in the industry’s current environment.

Accurately measuring ROI poses another hurdle. Given preconstruction's indirect impact on downstream project activities, quantifying the ROI of new technologies can be challenging. This uncertainty makes it difficult for firms to justify investments without seeing clearer cost savings or profitability gains, but ongoing support provides the data necessary to demonstrate long-term value.

However, forward-thinking construction firms should view these adoption challenges as opportunities to leverage support and training to smooth the path toward digital transformation. Investing in streamlining technology implementation, building staff capabilities, and tracking progress can ultimately accelerate preconstruction innovation. 

With the right support and training strategies, firms can overcome reluctance toward change, optimize new tool usage, and justify investments. Nevertheless, it’s important to take on a proactive mindset to realize the full benefits of digitally enhanced preconstruction.

Role of Support and the Need for Training

To successfully transform preconstruction through new digital capabilities requires a two-pronged human capital strategy: comprehensive support services and extensive training programs. Robust technical support provides the foundation for this strategy by optimizing system configuration and integration, and addressing any issues that arise during usage. Ongoing support accelerates user adoption and ensures tools are utilized to their maximum potential.

An equally important component of this strategy requires training to build critical knowledge across teams to smoothly adopt new processes, which also secures buy-in for change by demonstrating its long-term benefits. Training should focus on educating both individual contributors — be they in-house employees, contractors, or subcontractors — and management. 

For staff directly using new tools, hands-on training imparts the required skills and best practices needed to leverage new technology as it emerges and becomes adopted. Training executives on change management, for example, can better provide perspectives on how to best lead organization-wide digital transformation.

Additionally, cross-functional training helps connect disciplines to enhance collaboration among teams, allowing cost estimators and project managers to jointly learn a new estimating system to align inputs and outputs. Architects and contractors can train together on 3D BIM software, for instance, to improve design coordination.

Ultimately, blending support and training creates a comprehensive framework. Support services optimize the technology implementation, while training programs cultivate capable users and secure strategic buy-in. Together, construction firms can unlock immense human capital to deliver digitally-powered preconstruction excellence.

Best Practices for Support and Training

To maximize the value of support and training initiatives, construction firms should adopt several best practices:

  • Take a proactive approach: Don't wait until after new tools are deployed to start support and training. Begin these programs in advance to smooth adoption from day one, so that support staff can be lined up and trained beforehand.

  • Involve users directly: Make training hands-on by having the actual system users participate. This allows them to provide feedback to customize programs to their needs.

  • Promote digital culture: Use training as an opportunity to promote the digital mindset shift and secure strategic buy-in for preconstruction transformation.

  • Maintain ongoing cycles: Training should not be a one-off event, but rather an ongoing cycle of refreshers, new feature rollouts, and refining based on feedback. To this extent, continual learning is key.

  • Track ROI: Leverage data to quantify the ROI of support and training programs, including usage metrics, productivity gains, and profitability improvements.

  • Foster collaboration: Bring together cross-functional teams for training. Joint simulator exercises enable cooperative learning and break down silos.

  • Utilize variety: Combine different training formats like videos, presentations, demos, simulations, and reference materials for well-rounded learning.

By taking a holistic, user-centric approach starting early and emphasizing continuous improvement, construction firms can optimize their support and training programs to accelerate digital transformation in preconstruction.

A Digital Future

As construction projects and preconstruction processes become more sophisticated, digital transformation will continue to accelerate across the industry. This amplifies the strategic importance of support and training for firms looking to remain competitive.

This is why incoming generations of workers will expect a technologically enabled workplace aligned with digital lifestyles. As such, attracting top talent will require having robust digital capabilities coupled with strong support and training programs.

Technologies themselves will continue to evolve, with innovations like VR, AI, and blockchain reshaping preconstruction workflows. Adaptability and continual learning will be imperative to harness emerging advancements.

Data and integration complexity will also increase, necessitating reliable technical support services to smooth operations. At the same time, realizing value from new tools demands comprehensive training.

Leading construction firms will recognize this reality and make support and training strategic investment priorities. By cultivating human capital and capabilities, they will maximize value from technology to achieve digitally-powered preconstruction excellence.

Conversely, laggard firms that neglect support and training risk a growing digital skills gap and subpar utilization of new systems. Without the right knowledge and support foundations, preconstruction innovation may falter.

The message is clear: as construction progresses into a new digital era, success will favor companies that empower their people with robust capabilities. The future belongs to those embracing support and training as competitive differentiators on the journey toward digitization.