How do we support the people that drive construction?

Construction sites are demanding environments to work in.

There are stakeholders with clashing interests. Pressure from above. Pressure from below. If something goes wrong, workers could simply sit down and say: there is nothing we can do now because of [insert random blocking event here]. Many things can and do go wrong all the time.

The only thing that prevents the project coming to a screeching halt is the core team. In fact, if any progress is made at all, it's because of the forward motion they are managing to create.

Why digital solutions have failed construction

Software companies aiming to serve the construction industry frequently misunderstand that central role of Project Managers and Superintendents. They often see them as people standing in the way of progress because of their reluctance to embrace digital solutions. 

But there are good reasons for them to be so hesitant. 

Construction managers are extremely busy people operating in a highly adverse environment. Especially on large and complex projects, they face a multitude of challenges that tend to balloon over time. Many problems are interrelated and everything is constantly in flux. 

And they also have an ever-increasing burden to keep track of everything. 

The irony is, that even though they have to collect and process large amounts of data, all that admin and the digital systems that they use to collect the data with, actually do nothing to help them make the day-to-day decisions that get their project done.

Digital solutions often require too much work. If a Super spends hours inputting data, but it is not clear where it saves them time, they will eventually discard that solution. 

The central role of NOW

As I see it, roughly two kinds of tech solutions dominate the market today.

The first kind of solution helps with planning. But planning, by definition, always takes place before the here and now challenges of construction.

If something happens that you could not plan for —  and these occurrences are the bread and butter of construction – what good is your planning software now? 

On the other side of the spectrum are documentation solutions that enable you to keep a record of everything that’s going on at the build site. 

These are primarily backward-looking and useful to clean up the mess when the problem has already occurred. 

But project people need a solution that helps them drive progress now. A solution that gets them clear about the situation they are faced with and enables them to ground their decisions in the actual state of the project.

Current solutions that are either primarily planning or record-keeping tools, actually do nothing to help them in the moment when they need their assistance the most.

The hardest moments

The hardest moments construction leaders face are moments when everything seems to be falling apart, and the way forward is fraught with unknowns. They need to decide, and they need to decide now because the project needs to move on. 

At that moment, they do not, and often simply cannot, take the time to update their systems or find out more. They need to make high-stake choices, make them on the spot and based on limited information.

Those moments are crucial. 

Working with, not against, the nature of construction

These moments occur simply because they are in the nature of construction. Forget that it ought to work differently; that’s hypothetical. And we have already seen that solutions that work great hypothetically, don't work well in practice. 

Instead, we developed a system that is designed to work with and not against the on-going flux and complexity of modern day construction. It is a system that enables construction managers to assess the status and blockers of their project in a heartbeat and helps them keep tabs on any issues coming up in the near future. 

It’s exactly what they need in order to navigate difficult situations with confidence.

Help construction teams do what they do best

Construction professionals are "people people". Their superpower is that they rally others around getting on with the project. And that is what they should be doing. Not admin.

That is why our approach is to literally take on the input and processing of data for them. That way, the inputs to our system are accurate. And the insights we provide as outputs to the team are always on the ball.

We present insights visually, front and center, and in an intuitive format that managers can instantly make sense of, if they don’t have the time or frame of mind to dive into detailed reports.

What our system can do for project teams

Our solution is grounded in the here and now of construction. It is not dependent on the correctness of the schedule or the up-to-date-ness of the model.

We alert the team when things get out of hand. So there is a lot less to lose sleep over. And when they face those difficult choices, we provide them with the context needed to make the call.  

This makes our solution profoundly different from anything else in the market today. And it marks the beginning of a new era for construction managers that want to get more done, in less time and with better quality.

Are you driving construction on large and complex projects, and are you curious about a tech solution that will grant you more control over your site and make you more productive? Please do get in touch to try us out.

Felix Neufeld

Co-Founder, CEO Disperse

This article originally appeared on Felix Neufeld's LinkedIn page.

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