We all know we should stop relying on our beloved spreadsheets and the deceptive ease of firing off emails to share information and manage projects. We know cloud based operations management (aka digitizing) is the better way to keep the business growing and going in real time, but doing so is very daunting. Here’s advice about easing in.
One Step At a Time
An “all or nothing” mindset about modernizing operations makes taking action hard.
Pros, Bret Cupta and Nelson Dillow, share that when construction services firm TEP and cloud based operations management provider, Sidetracker, began working together five years ago, they opted for a phased in approach, which has led to success, and offer this encouragement to contractors:
When presented with a shiny new deployment operations management system, there is a tendency for companies to want to just dive in and start using it for a bevy of different things, all at once. Resist that urge. These systems are wide-ranging and sophisticated. They do a lot, and you also want them to integrate well with your existing systems. It’s important to ask yourself what your goals as a company are and, with those in mind, what the deployment operations management system needs to do for you first and foremost. In other words, prioritize, both in terms of functionality and user groups. Avoid the temptation to implement everything at once and customize like crazy. If you have the luxury of taking a stepwise approach, exploit it. Trying to do too much at once can disrupt your business in the short term – and slow the pace of adoption in the longer term.
According to Cupta and Dillow, “To do digitization right, you should take a stepwise approach, registering wins along the way to show the value of the system to users slated to come aboard later.” Toward a stepped-in approach, the mantra to hold onto is “data centralization“–that’s what makes cloud-based operations powerful: having a “single source of truth” across operations, in real time, so everyone is truly working from the same page. When it comes down to it, the technical blueprint for getting to that single source is not the biggest challenge businesses face–people management is:
People in construction love their spreadsheets, and you can’t blame them. The users own them, and they can customize them as they like. But spreadsheets undercut the data centralization that gives deployment operations management systems their power to help all sorts of users track, manage, and streamline projects. There’s no avoiding it: The digitization of a construction business means spreadsheets have to go. Some of your users will probably resist. Stay the course. Find a champion. It could be a management champion; it could be a popular project manager or field worker with a reputation for competence. Show them and anyone else who seems willing to support the vision exactly how features of the system can improve their daily work lives. Show them how they’ve done things, and then show them that there’s a better way.
When securing a software provider, make sure you get a balanced approach to both valuable standardization, which allows you to maximize industry best practices and necessary customization:
Whatever software you choose as your digitization platform, it needs a 100% open API (application program interface) structure. Because if it’s not open, it will be less powerful than it could be at best – and isolated and ineffective in achieving your goals at worst. Another important step in customization and integration is documenting your mission-critical systems in advance and then seeing how they’re going to work together with the deployment operations management system. Customization can also be an important contributor to gaining user acceptance. It may be as simple as adding a button that lets a certain group of workers do their jobs a bit faster, or it may be a more complex functional need….Either way, it’s about giving users a sense of ownership while balancing the strengths of the workflows embodied in the cloud-based system with the best of the construction business’s operational patterns.
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