Why Construction Fails to Keep Up with Other Industries

We’ve seen industries jump leaps and bounds in terms of profit, scale and growth. However, the construction industry seems to be on a slower progress compared to others. Why is that? Why are we lagging behind? Let’s dive in. Apart from labor shortages, increasing regulations and problems in lot availability, there is one issue that leaves the entire construction industry behind the dust of other fast-growing industries. That issue is productivity. 

In an interview with Fortune magazine, Brendan Bechtel, President and COO of global construction giant Bechtel, said that “stagnant productivity levels in construction” are one of the things that haunt him at night. According to a recent World Economic Forum study, productivity gains in the construction industry have been “meager” when compared with the advancements of other industries in the last 50 years. The study further states that the lack of significant productivity advancements is costing the industry billions of dollars each year.

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The study said that reducing construction costs by even just 1% through productivity improvements would save the construction industry approximately $100 billion each year. That’s a serious amount of cash! However, the study also pointed out that another challenge in productivity is the “fractured” aspects of construction. It said that these fractured and segmented operational processes would in fact, negate whatever benefits would be brought about by new technological advancements.

The Lack of Collaboration and Cooperative Efforts

Experts say that one of the key reasons on why productivity in construction is declining, is the inherently combative nature of construction today. The functions and goals of architects, engineers and contractors often clash, and most of the time, they are separate entities that don’t work with each other right at the get-go. For example, your house will be designed by your chosen architect, checked by a different engineer, built by a separate company- which often has people that they just contracted as well. All of these individuals have to claw their way into getting heard, and for their ideas not to get junked. Instead of a smooth relationship, what you have are adversaries that try to out-win each other. It’s a highly individualistic environment. It’s a system that is not at all designed for effectiveness nor efficiency. Collaboration is forced when it should be the norm.

Intimidated by Technology

Another hurdle to work efficiency is the aversion of construction veterans to technology. A lot of seasoned professionals (Construction Managers, Site Inspectors, Supervisors, etc.) are not proficient in using desktops, laptops, mobile tablets, and smartphones. These are the people with the most impact to project efficiency. The ones who are directly out in the field.
It’s a known fact that a lot of the advancements in productivity these days are brought about by new technology, whether it be for communication, collaboration, or documentation. But unfortunately, what we have is an industry that is slow to change, slow to trust, and slow to adapt. And if your critical personnel are not up to date, and hesitant to changing how things get done, you can expect that growth and speed will indeed be stunted.

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Get Comfortable, Get Mobile

The time for easing your way into technology has passed. What the industry needs is to radically integrate tech into your everyday processes. Have a serious talk with your key people and educate them about how construction programs, mobile apps, and even social media can make their jobs easier. Let them see how it would lessen their headaches and speed up their build-times. We can’t stay dinosaurs in the information age. In order for construction to keep up, we have to shake things up.


Start today! Click here to learn about how SAM- the Superintendent’s Automated Manager can make mobile collaboration and task management much easier. There’s nothing to lose, and plenty to gain!

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