With $21.7 billion worth of construction work yet to be done on road and rail projects alone (according to June 2017 ABS data) and much of this including mega-projects such as Sydney’s WestConnex and Metro projects and Melbourne’s Metro project, it is fair to say that the forward pipeline of civil infrastructure projects in Australia is strong and that a number of these projects are growing in complexity.
With this in mind, pressure to invest in construction management technology is growing.
Nevertheless, concern is growing about corners being cut in this area.
According to Nick Peters, marketing specialist, APAC, at cloud-based construction management technology provider Procore, this is a mistake.
“With construction management technology, it’s not about finding quick ways to cut corners, but rather about bigger picture – the facilitation of smoothly managed projects,” Peters said.
“Australian construction companies must encourage investment in agile construction tech platforms that are able to grow with projects themselves – to save both money and time in the long run.”
According to Peters, there are three important points when it comes to construction technology investment.
First, adaptability is critical. Given the current pace of technological evolution along with the long-term nature of projects, Peters says it is necessary to invest in platforms which are adaptable and can respond effectively to innovation. This is particularly important, he says, as technology moves from being a basic document management system toward becoming the ‘backbone’ of projects.
On a related note, Peters says there are issues associated with legacy systems – the value of which he says declines as technological advancement progresses. These legacy systems also drain resources and funds due to ongoing maintenance costs.
A glitch experienced by British Airways last year which resulted in computer outages and disruption to hundreds of services around the world provides an example of the consequences associated with what can happen when legacy systems are in place, he says.
One challenge with legacy systems, Peters says, involves the need to upgrade and modernise without compromising the functionality which these systems are providing. He also says it is necessary to invest in the technology of the future.
A critical aspect of doing this, he says, is investing in open source technology which can grow with business needs and enable companies to update their technology whilst simultaneously without compromising functionality.
According to Peters, there are several examples of this happening.
In Procore’s own case, he says the company’s recent integration with construction intelligence software provider Acuite assists customers not only with their daily project operations but also by giving them an ability to run real-time health checks across their projects. On the issue of openness, he says the company maintains clear communication with its customers to understand how demands and priorities are shifting.
Construction spending is growing whilst projects are growing in complexity.
To meet these challenges, project managers require software which can adapt to their needs.