The 2020 Digital Construction Playbook 

2020 Digital Construction Strategy Playbook

Are Your Construction Strategies Up to Par for the New Decade? 

2020 is almost here–and as construction professionals, we are sure that you have a lot to celebrate. Whether it’s winning new business or the topping out of a career-defining project, everyone in the industry has a milestone from the year (and decade) they should wear as a badge of honor. 

As part of the fresh start of each year, it’s also important to commit to new goals. For construction businesses, the right targets are critical to organization, productivity, and improving a company’s bottom line. And perhaps among the most important goals for today’s leading companies are ones involving a digital construction strategy.

Why Focus on Your Digital Construction Strategy in 2020?  

According to Liferay, “Digital strategy focuses on using technology to improve business performance,” and includes implementing new products or reimagining current processes. The blog continues, “As digital technology becomes more pervasive and companies move further in the journey of digital transformation, digital strategy and business strategy will be the same thing.” 

The message is loud and clear. Digital strategy can no longer be a subset of the broader business vision–it needs to remain in the front and center of every major company initiative. 

For construction, the benefits of implementing a winning digital strategy are clear. McKinsey reports that digital transformation in construction could result in cost reductions of 4-6% and productivity gains of 14-15%. That being said, according to EY Global, only 25% of engineering and construction companies report having a clear digital strategy in place. Additionally, less than 10% are confident in how far along they are on the digital readiness spectrum. 

The good news is: this leaves many companies with significant opportunities to grow. However, when it comes to creating technology goals and strategies, many companies are at a loss on where to begin. Other firms might be focusing their limited time and resources on areas that have a narrow and siloed impact on more significant project activities and outcomes. 

In truth, there is no one-fit-all approach when it comes to creating a digital construction strategy. The right plan depends on individual business needs and targets. Nonetheless, with guidance and the right framework, companies can begin to create their own digital goals and strategy to meet business objectives in 2020 and beyond. 

First Thing First: Know Where You Stand

Before you begin creating your digital construction strategy for 2020, it’s vital to understand where your company currently stands. Luckily, there’s an easy way to check with a new free tool: the Construction Health Check. 

The tool includes a 15-minute assessment that helps construction businesses benchmark themselves against other companies when it comes to the key performance indicators (KPIs) that matter most to performance. After four easy steps, you will receive a personalized report that shows how your team stacks up against others in the industry. You’ll also receive ideas on how to improve the way your company collects and analyzes project information. Getting a fast check-up into your construction health has never been easier–start the conversation and take the assessment today:

Assess Your Digital Health

But Wait, Why Benchmark?

You’re probably familiar with the concept of par, as it relates to golf. Par is the number of strokes a player is expected to take to get the ball into the hole. The number is on the tee pad and scorecard, so everyone knows what it is, what to expect, and how to play the hole. It makes it easy for competitive players to evaluate performance and, more importantly, improve. 

In a competitive setting, stats matter and improvement is the difference between staying afloat or rising above. The same goes for business. Statistical recording and comparable performance data are becoming as essential. KPIs are a common industry standard used to “benchmark” companies. 

For the construction industry, KPIs provide valuable insight for both individual firms in addition to the entire industry. For example, manufacturing has consistently become more efficient, faster, and cheaper, year after year. This is because tracking KPIs and optimizing processes to achieve ever better numbers has become the name of the game.

Until recently, there hasn’t been an efficient way to establish any kind of ‘par’ or construction KPIs for activities such as quality or efficiency. But the abundance of construction technology connected to the cloud is now changing that. Digital construction tools are providing the opportunity and the capability to collect information across all stages of project management. Everything, from the specific details of a subcontractor’s performance and the daily cost of general conditions, to the overall efficiency and safety of a given project, are now available at the fingertips of anyone involved in construction project performance.

As this data continues to be aggregated, the industry will be able to establish a meaningful set of construction project benchmarks based on factors that used to be lost in the vagaries of the process. Industry leaders will have clear construction KPIs, not only for safety, but also for cost, quality, and performance.

It's all about using the information your digital construction tools are generating for project management and benchmarking. Information on past projects allows contractors to actually see how they performed, beyond the typical success metrics of margin, safety, and client satisfaction. This helps contractors answer the question "how and where do we improve?" The companies that embrace this opportunity will not only benefit but blaze a trail forward in the industry.

Once par is established, everything changes. Setting construction KPIs for quality, cost, and schedule will mean that if you can’t meet par, you’ll quickly be out of the game. Of course, it also means that if you can beat par, you’ll have a competitive advantage.

7 Areas of Focus for a 2020 Digital Construction Strategy 

Now that you know where you stand, and why you should be benchmarking, it’s time to start digging into specifics. Just like any business strategy, creating a digital construction one first involves establishing the KPIs that matter most. 

The Construction Health Check evaluates companies based on the results of a recent study that Autodesk commissioned with Dodge Data & Analytics. The study surveyed contractors and trade professionals to identify and analyze current processes for planning and executing projects. The results revealed seven key process indicators, which few firms are measuring, yet most construction professionals agree provide an opportunity for concrete benchmarks for construction project performance. These include: 

  • Construction documents: The frequency with which contractors are capturing errors, omissions, and/or constructibility issues in the 'bid set' of construction documents.
  • RFIs: How often contractors log requests for information (RFIs) and responses.
  • Change orders: The frequency of which firms are collecting and documenting change orders, including turnaround time, root cause evaluation, and schedule impacts.
  • Schedule: The frequency of updating schedules and other related activities and outcomes, including the impact of slippages.
  • Safety/Inspections: If and how firms are using technology to manage safety and/or inspections.
  • Labor productivity: The top factors negatively impacting labor productivity are coordination and communication, contract document quality, and poor schedule management.
  • Quality and closeout: If and how firms are using software to manage punch list and closeout activities.

Using the links above, you can navigate to each of our construction digital strategy deep dives. Each part focuses on a new KPI and explores the specific processes that are essential to your business goals. We also provide the leading digital strategies and tools your company can implement in 2020. Just click the links above to learn more and subscribe to our blog for bi-weekly updates!

Kristen Sylva

Sr. Manager, Construction Thought Leadership & Content Marketing, Autodesk With a colorful 18-years of marketing experience ranging from sports and entertainment, to web design and healthcare, Kristen Sylva found the most excitement and passion for the construction industry. After putting on her first hard hat, safety vest, and boots in 2008 as a marketing manager at Topcon Positioning Group, she knew that an extensive career in construction technology was in her future. While at Topcon, Kristen oversaw sales-driven marketing programs and led customer symposiums that evangelized the adoption of construction hardware technology. In 2014 she made the transition from construction hardware to software and joined Autodesk as Construction Industry Marketing Manager. In her role, Kristen has the privilege of connecting with construction professionals and spearheading initiatives that showcase the innovative ways companies are using technology to digitize their construction projects and processes. She also leads initiatives that support lifting and building awareness for women in construction and serves on the board of Autodesk’s Women in Leadership organization. Kristen is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma (Boomer Sooner!) and currently resides in the East Bay of California with her husband, two kids, and two dogs.