As many as one in five builders throughout Australia still use paper-based systems to manage quality control and compliance on building projects, the latest survey suggests.

And whilst larger construction firms are embracing specialist software, there is a widening gap in digital capabilities between larger and smaller firms.

Conducted by ACA Research for construction management software provide Procore, the survey of 153 industry leaders throughout construction found that whilst digital uptake for critical project management tasks in construction was growing, a minority of builders are lagging in their efforts in this area.

According to the survey, 23 percent of respondents have adopted specialist software to manage quality control and inspection processes. A further 58 percent use standard office software for such purposes.

However, one in four respondents (24 percent) still use paper systems to manage workplace health and safety.

Meanwhile, one in five (21 percent) use paper to manage quality and compliance.

This is despite 56 percent of respondents agreeing that paper-based quality assurance systems are impractical and increase the likelihood of rework.

Despite the uptake in specialist software, meanwhile, a gap between small and large companies has emerged.

Whereas nearly half of the larger businesses (100+ employees) surveyed use specialist software for quality control and compliance processes (49percent), this number falls to just 11 percent of small businesses (<10 employees) who can say the same.

However, the survey also pointed to growing recognition of the importance of technology and data in managing projects.

Across survey participants:

  • 53 percent of respondents agree it is difficult to effectively monitor QA without an integrated data management platform (up from 45 percent in the previous survey last year).
  • 61 percent of respondents agree data analysis delivers insights that are crucial to QA outcomes
  • 60 percent say defects are less likely to occur in sites where data analysis guides processes.

The latest data comes as construction firms face pressure to improve quality outcomes following highly publicised incidents of use of combustible cladding on multi-storey building projects and structural defects on some towers.

As this happens, concern has grown about the overall digital maturity of the design and construction sector.

Last month, a report commissioned by the NSW Building Commissioner found that it was likely to take ten years before design and construction firms involved in building multi-residential apartment complexes were sufficiently digitally enabled to facilitate submit critical design and construction documents using advanced digital tools such as BIM and digital twins.

This is despite digitisation being a critical part of the state’s strategy to improve building quality and compliance.

According to the Procore report, a challenge for effective capture and management of important data revolves around inconsistent data capture and data being captured separately by different teams who manage their affairs separately across the organisation.

Tom Karemacher, Vice President, APAC at Procore, said the importance of addressing data challenges should not be underestimated.

“Technology and data will play a central role as the Australian construction industry continues to transform and focus on uplifting building quality,” Karemacher said.

“With an increasingly complex network of stakeholders to report to, and an urgent need for data accuracy and ease of reporting, it’s crucial that companies understand and address the barriers to better data capture and analysis.”