When introducing new technology in the field, getting buy-in from your construction superintendents is crucial to the success of your project. Learn how Andrew Sills, a project manager for Hodges & Hicks made it happen for his team.
There’s no question that new technology has made a major impact in the construction industry, especially throughout the last few years. The rise of software as a solution (SaaS) has helped bring construction into the 21st century, but that doesn’t mean construction professionals like superintendents are ready to embrace every new software that comes their way.
So what’s the biggest roadblock for getting buy-in from construction superintendents?
According to Andrew Sills, a project manager for Hodges & Hicks General Contractors, the main challenge is often cost and complexity of the software solution. “I wouldn’t say we’re hesitant to use new technology, but like many other construction companies, we’re not out there every day looking for new technologies,” he explains.
Sills has been with Hodges & Hicks since he graduated from Georgia Institute of Technology with a Civil Engineering degree. Although his current role doesn’t require him to be in the field as often anymore, he can sympathize with many of the day-to-day frustrations his construction superintendents run into.
Recognize construction superintendents as key stakeholders
Sure, a software solution could save you money in the long run by improving processes. However, committing to a financial investment without having a clear idea of the return is a tough decision. Project managers, like Sills also have to consider a variety of other stakeholders, and have the confidence that they too will see the benefit in learning a new technology.
A construction superintendent, for example, is a key stakeholder in the overall construction management process and you need to make sure they’re on board. This becomes especially challenging when each of your projects has different superintendents involved.
Introduce the right punch list app for the right projects
A 56, 000 square foot 11-million-dollar project, and another 24, 000 square foot 6.5-million-dollar project, located in Atlanta, Georgia, were two of Sills most recent projects he used a punch list app for. His team just completed one of them a few months ago, and the other is estimated to be done in about a month and a half.
“Most of the time, it’s super costly to use new technology, but I would say Bridgit Closeout was one of the first software solutions I’ve found that isn’t that expensive, and it can save you hours upon hours. We cut the hours we put into the punch list process by 70% from what we were doing before.”
The punch list process Sills’ team had to deal with in the past was less than ideal. “We walked around with a laptop and cart, while putting green stickers on the wall to record deficiencies,” he says. By the time it was all said and done, they had a list of 300 items that they needed to organize in an Excel file before it could be send out. Unsurprisingly, “all of that was a long and tedious process that nobody ever enjoyed doing. Now we use Bridgit Closeout, and the superintendents love it.”
How this project manager got his superintendents buy-in
The superintendents that worked with Sills on these two projects appreciated using a punch list app that was easy to learn and simple to use. “[They] loved it, just because it’s easier for them. It holds everybody accountable. No one gets away with skipping any of their items, because everything is well-documented. It helped us get everything done quicker and more efficiently.”
So how did he get the buy-in from the new superintendents on each of his projects?
“I downloaded the app, sat our superintendent down and showed him how to use it. I took a picture, circled something on it, clicked the room number we were sitting in, assigned a subcontractor, and created the [punch list] item,” explains Sills.
His superintendent’s reaction? “Wow, that’s super easy,” recalls Sills. At that point, Sills went on to show him the automated subcontractor communication and reporting features. “This part’s even better,” he told him. “Here’s what happens when they complete an item. You receive an alert when something has been marked as complete. You can then go check it on your own time, and either approve it as complete or reject it. If you reject [the punch list] item, it shoots it back to the subcontractor – everything is automated.”
Show your construction superintendents the benefits
If you can clearly highlight the benefits of learning a new a software solution, by showing your site team how simple it is to use – they will appreciate it. For example, it was easy for Sills to show his superintendent the benefits of automating subcontractor communication. “You don’t have to have the arguments. You don’t have to walk the job with every subcontractor, ten times a day. It’s on your own schedule, and Bridgit Closeout doesn’t allow anybody to forget anything because it’s all automated and online.”
Having a robust reporting feature is also a benefit worth sharing with your construction superintendents. Being able to generate sub-specific reports is a huge time saver for superintendents, and “the accountability and completion process that goes along with it is super helpful in the field.”
“I’m probably saving at least 20 hours or more of our time and our superintendent’s time. People aren’t walking around with folded up punch lists where they have 300 items, but only 10 of them are theirs,” says Sills.
When it comes to finding the right software solution for the field, there’s a lot of different software models you can choose from. If you’re interested in learning more about the background of construction technology and which solution might be the best fit for your company needs, download the latest copy of Construction Tech Trends 2017: True Software for the Jobsite.