The Case for Construction Technology — Productivity Loss

The conversation around the use of technology in construction management has changed dramatically it tone and frequency over the last several years. At least, that’s the way it seems; but what do the numbers say about this?

Turns out, it’s not just a feeling. From 2011 to 2017 McKinsey measured $10 billion in investment in construction technology (stylized as “Con-tech”) firms, and separately JLL measured already $1 billion in the first half of 2018 alone. Those numbers aren’t surprising when at last count Skanska USA determined there were over 2,100 individual companies looking to take up some of the space that opened up in what was a pretty uninteresting sector for so many years. So con-tech is definitely on the rise – but why?

Well, it’s no secret that the construction industry is suffering from and diminishing workforce and rampant issues meeting schedules. We have a productivity problem. It isn’t getting better either. McKinsey measured changes in productivity across industries in Europe and found that while most industries saw on average a 30% increase in workforce productivity, the construction industry saw only a 7% increase, measured over 20 years. These terrible numbers make productivity one of the largest problems facing the construction industry today.

So the multi-billion dollar question is: Can this saturated con-tech landscape really solve the productivity problem in construction? The answer is yes, in more ways than one. To name a few:

  • Document management tools decrease the time spent looking for files
  • Electronic signature reduce turnaround time in documentation
  • Project management software reduce staff hours producing and tracking project controls
  • Schedule simulation software runs simultaneous what-if scenarios to inform better decisions
  • Punch list and commission software track quality issues beyond what was possible before
  • Communication software keeps teams lean and minimizes meetings
  • Collaboration tools reduce the need for travel and in-person site walks and meetings
  • BIM modeling catches problems before they occur
  • Advanced ACAD and 3D models explain ideas and reduce questions. Think about these things when selecting a general contractor. Talk about the technology tools your partners are using and how well they take advantage of them. It is surely a correlation to how well your project is being staffed and the quality of the decisions your team is going to make. Look for longitude and expertise too, not just innovation. The Douglas Company has been involved with our core technology providers since their early days and has deeply embedded all of their tools into our processes. If your contractor hasn’t seen the problems and benefits outlined here, they are falling behind in a fast-changing con-tech environment.For sources and further reading, visit:

Bruce Douglas, PMP, PMI-SP, LEED AP BD+C
Senior Project Manager
The Douglas Company


Read More >