As technological innovation continues at a breakneck pace, many heavy civil construction companies remain reluctant to move into the era of software-driven business processes. Some fear the unknown. Others have been bitten by experiences with inferior applications, ill-conceived implementations or poor support.

Fortunately, software applications like those within the ONE Platform for managing estimating and construction operations are increasingly intuitive, easy to deploy and easy to use. Employees are also more familiar with using technology in their day-to-day lives. Rather than resisting change instinctively, many now expect to use software applications, mobile phones, tablets and other technologies on the job.

Still, companies that lack experience with software can fall victim to “false starts” by bringing new solutions on board without a well-thought-out plan for integrating the technology with existing processes or for training employees. When false starts occur, workers—especially those with more experience in the industry—revert back to the processes that they know well. They also grow more skeptical and less open to further attempts at technological change.

To take advantage of software technology, choosing the right tools is only half the battle. These five big-picture guidelines can help established solutions that last.

  1.  Choose a Point of Contact

Selecting one individual as the go-to person for information and implementation is critical in order to ensure that the adoption of new software is effective. The right choice will depend on the organization. Some construction companies have IT personnel who could serve in this role, but many others do not, and deep IT expertise should not be essential.

  1. Set Goals

A company that doesn’t know what it hopes to achieve with software won’t have any way to decide if the deployment has been successful. Before adopting a new solution, review the company’s long-term business objectives and how the software will align with them. A team from across the organization should collaborate to create goals for the software. For example, a solution like B2W Maintain to improve maintenance processes may have goals like reducing the proportion of unplanned repairs, or decreasing the amount of time mechanics spend traveling between the job site and the shop. Goals with B2W Track could include increasing the quality of field performance data, getting that data daily or minimizing data entry for payroll processing.

  1. Achieve User Buy-In

No software deployment can be successful without users wanting it to be. The best strategy is to focus on and communicate three key points: that the new solution will make it easier for individual employees to be successful; that it fits into an overall effort to make the company more successful; and that the top management is behind it.

One proven approach to get buy-in is to start with a pilot program. Introduce the software to a test group that is receptive and most likely to succeed before rolling it out to the rest of the company. This establishes key personnel to validate the change to the rest of the company, and it allows for a “walk-then-run” implementation that can make the change smoother company-wide.

  1. Train

Choosing software that is intuitive and easy to use should minimize initial and longer-term training requirements. Still, supporting an investment in the software with an incremental investment in a strong, structured training program at the outset is the best way to head off initial resistance, get employees confident and ensure that they will be ambassadors for the project throughout the company. Accommodating varying levels of software experience is important, and ongoing training is a good idea in order to drive full utilization and continuous improvement.

  1. Follow Up

Once a company makes the switch to a software platform, it’s not a done deal. Check in at regular intervals with users to ensure the transition has gone smoothly and that the software is being used effectively for its intended purposes. Also, be responsive to any complaints or suggestions.

Greg Norris