Bridgit co-founder Lauren Hasegawa was the presenter for Technology Applications: What Fits Your Biz? at the Vancouver Regional Construction Association’s Construction Learning Forum held in Whistler, B.C. on May 23.
Bridgit co-founder Lauren Hasegawa was the presenter for Technology Applications: What Fits Your Biz? at the Vancouver Regional Construction Association's Construction Learning Forum held in Whistler, B.C. on May 23.
Hasegawa, a civil and structural engineer, is the co-founder of Bridgit, which integrates mobile applications with the construction industry.
Hasegawa said that while interning during her education, she spotted much inefficiency which she thought could be solved through the smart application of technology.
She said what struck her most strongly was how paper-based most sites were at the time (four years ago).
Bridgit, the company Hasegawa co-founded, allows contractors to record deficiencies and assign them to the appropriate contractor with notifications via email.
Emerging technologies include Mobile Software-As-A-Service (SAAS).
SAAS is a way of delivering applications over to the internet as a service, either on a desktop or a mobile device.
The advantages of this approach are that there are no upfront costs, access is from everywhere and manual updates are not required.
SAAS also allows true collaboration between teams, she said.
Stand-alone apps mean exporting a version of a blueprint or document and sharing it, which can lead to confusion between parties as to what is currently being worked on.
There are several questions a company should ask before adopting SaaS software.
The first, she said, is how long it will take for people to learn the software.
The time it takes to onboard your team onto a software solution is a critical element to consider, she said.
Many existing software solutions are quite comprehensive, and lots of features equals lots of training.
“Think efficiency vs. fluff,” Hasegawa said.
The second question is how quickly does the software adapt to changes in technology?
What was cutting edge a few years ago can be outdated, she said, and to avoid “buy now or buy later” limbo, she said, look for a solution that has proven its ability to adapt quickly.
How will the software deliver the data?
Look at the options available to extract project data and use it to discover trends project to project and year over year.
The ability to adapt construction processes based on lessons learned is becoming critical to maintaining profit margins, she said.
Access to performance data is also a huge value-add, Hasegawa said, in the eyes of owners looking to approve bids on their next projects.
Another factor to consider is if your team will like using the software. Full team buy-in is 100 per cent necessary when adopting a software solution, she said.
The simplest of solutions can have a huge impact because they are easy to learn and easy to use.
If your team likes using the software solution, then they will use it, period, Hasegawa said.
How will the software deliver a competitive advantage?
These advantages include the ability to make data-driven decisions throughout the project, as well as when assembling the project team.
They should show a history of timely project delivery and demonstrate superior subcontractor management. The software should also deliver increased efficiency onsite.
Best practices for rolling out new software in a company include asking for feedback from one’s team and paying attention to it.
Only the person using the software can truly assess its value, she said.
Making the team feel they are a part of the software selecting process also eases adoption and negative feedback could indicate a lack of understanding, she added.
“It’s also a great way to identify knowledge gaps!” Hasegawa said.
Give sufficient notice and make opportunities available to ask questions, but at some point a company will have to roll out a new solution, she said.
It’s also important to encourage peer-to-peer support. Learning from peers is the best way to learn, Hasegawa said, and it’s also important to identify leaders within the team who understand the software, then empower them to help others.
New software is also a great opportunity for younger workers to take a leadership role.
The Vancouver Regional Construction Association's 3rd Annual Construction Learning Forum is taking place in Whistler, B.C.
The two-day conference includes workshops on productivity, business development and safety.
Keep checking the Journal of Commerce for blogs from the conference.
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