LIZ CARROLL writes about the construction app and software database Construction Professionals Skillnet is building to provide contractors and their supply chains with digital solutions to overcome everyday challenges.
Construction is recognised as one of the least productive sectors, and productivity in construction in Ireland is below that in other similar-sized countries in Europe and further afield. One of the key factors in this is the under-investment in technology and digital solutions.
There is a lot of talk about BIM being one of the ways of improving not only productivity but many other aspects of the sector. And while this is true, there are many other forms of technology that are more relevant to the vast majority of construction companies in Ireland – the 47,000 SMEs that make up over 90% of the industry here.
Return on digital investment
Digital technology helps manage information, finance and materials, enabling companies to have better information and control – and it need not cost a small fortune! In fact, one of the things that should be investigated before investing in technology is the return on investment. If it is not going to save you time, give you better or more accurate and real-time information and thus save you money or give you the opportunity to earn more, then there is no point in investing in it.
For many SMEs, they don’t know what they don’t know when it comes to digital solutions. They do things the way they have always done things and aren’t aware of the apps and technologies out there that, at relatively low cost, can make life much easier for them. This is where the Construction Professionals Skillnet can help.
Digital Construction Skillnet
In 2020, the Construction Sector Group was established with a Digital Construction Skillnet as one of its Priority Actions. In 2022, the Construction Professionals Skillnet was made responsible for this action. Some of the work done in this area has been to develop a response to the skills gap in Modern Methods of Construction. In addition, there is funding available to assist SMEs to introduce a digital solution to their company. An SME employs less than 250 people and has a turnover of less than €43m.
However, for most SMEs, finding the time to find the solutions that are available out there and then working out which one is the best and best value is just too much. Where do you actually begin?
What digital solution does your business need?
The Construction Professionals Skillnet can work with you to see where you could save time and effort and then identify possible solutions. Not only that, funding is available towards the investment in the technology and to provide training in its use.
For example, one company is looking at a system whereby invoices-in can be scanned, and the information will then go straight into their accounts package rather than someone having to manually enter them.
Another company is working with a training company to develop training and practice exercises for their staff to complete particular forms, which will reduce the need for double entry by admin back in the office. Another company is introducing a system that will manage all the company’s information needs.
There are also numerous apps available to enable SMEs to do things via their phone instead of waiting to be back in the office again.
Construction app and software database
The Construction Professionals Skillnet is planning on building a database of apps and software available for SMEs so that construction companies can easily see what the apps do and match it to the functionality that they are looking for. So, if you have an app that you believe may be useful to the construction sector, please let the Construction Professionals Skillnet know so that it can be added to the database.
Solutions for SMEs don’t need to be all-encompassing large investments. However, if you are investing in this way, it is essential to streamline your processes first. If there are problems cropping up in a manual system, these would only be exacerbated by speeding them up with technology.
Do you have something you would like to improve and think that there may be a technological solution?
If so, contact Liz at the Construction Professionals Skillnet at firstname.lastname@example.org
About The Construction Professionals Skillnet
The Construction Professionals Skillnet provides subsidised training for the construction industry. The following are some of the courses that are offered.
– Transform Your Business – Management Development programme for SME owner-managers
– CIOB Cert/Diploma in Construction Site Management – For site managers and supervisors
– Lean Six Sigma – Green Belt IASSC Certified – Improve efficiencies in your area of work
– Introduction to Lean and Last Planner – How Lean is applied to construction projects