How a Modular
Approach to ConTech
Supports Your Business Needs
November 07, 2023
There’s a massive growth mode happening in our industry.
The number of capital projects is increasing, with infrastructure projects getting a big bump in priority thanks to federal funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill of 2021. And construction technology — from foundational to advanced solutions — continues to proliferate and evolve.
Construction companies, too, are in growth mode. They’re beginning or keeping on with their digital transformation by adopting construction technologies that enable them to work smarter and grow amid competition and a tighter labor market.
The trend in the industry is toward implementing integrated platforms — a connected system of solutions — to help companies step up and meet the challenge through scalability.
But it’s not a small undertaking. In fact, you may still think you’re not ready for a fully integrated platform. Or perhaps you’re interested in just a couple of connected software solutions — for now. Or you want to ease your way into using a platform and get used to working with it.
The good news? You can have it your way, meaning it doesn’t have to be all-in or nothing. While all-in may be the ultimate goal, it’s possible, even preferential, for many construction companies to scale up modularly. This approach will still ensure your company can take advantage of digitalization to support your business growth.
How does modular construction tech directly support scalability, and what are other companies doing?
- Companies can start off by building a solid platform of foundational technologies.
This is a great way to dip your toe into the integrated platform waters. What to start with? You can’t go wrong with the basics. Foundational technologies lend themselves nicely to this modular construction tech approach because they can be implemented from the planning stages of a project and used and relied on throughout the construction phase.
Estimating and document management are prime illustrations of this. These technologies are core to the overall operations of every construction project, so having a solid base of familiar functions can make it easier to adopt — and adapt to — other modules over time. This smoother, intentional approach can minimize potential workflow disruption, resulting in less implementation-related downtime.
- A more gradual approach makes sense when integrating specialized technologies appropriate for their current and anticipated types of capital projects.
As those foundational modules are incorporated into the growing integrated platform, companies can be more selective in their tech additions. This is the ideal time to begin adopting specialized technologies that support the projects that are or will be in their portfolio.
It can work especially well for companies taking on highly sophisticated capital projects with strict building and owner requirements, including infrastructure projects. Investing in advanced technologies can help construction companies scale to the level of detail, efficiency and project certainty those projects require. For instance, drones are ideal for performing site inspections of large area footprints and difficult-to-inspect structures such as bridges and high-rise buildings. Building information modeling (BIM), a 3D modeling technology and process, is gaining use in highly intricate builds that can benefit from enhanced data-linked design visualization; and it’s also helping retrofit existing structures in which design and material choices were likely not made with an eye toward future upgrades or additions.
Especially with such advanced technologies, progressively adopting modular construction tech helps project teams and stakeholders become familiar with employing them and puts emphasis on their unique relevance and value.
- Modular construction tech makes it possible to still build on and grow from the wealth of prior project data available through the connected modules.
There’s something to be said for scaling an organization’s capabilities through project information — specifically, historical data. In an integrated platform, all that project information is housed in one data repository, serving as a single source of truth. As software modules are added to the expanding platform, they contribute to this hub of connected data that can be used for better-informed decisions on future capital projects to improve outcomes.
Even when connecting modules using an incremental approach, there’s still project intelligence to be gained from past cost, schedule, scope and performance data. How can insights from past performance metrics be applied to similar projects? What lessons can be learned from a timing standpoint to create more realistic schedules? How can historical cost data inform how to better manage costs from now on?
Learning is a form of growth. And that’s possible by leveraging collective real-world knowledge, insights and information from previous assets — something that isn’t possible with disconnected programs.
- Construction companies can expand their capabilities at a pace that aligns with their growth.
Rather than pursuing an all-encompassing tech overhaul in one fell swoop, construction organizations can take a more strategic approach by implementing modular construction technologies one step at a time on an as-needed basis.
From a productivity standpoint, assembling an integrated platform piece by piece gives everyone a chance to learn the technologies, interfaces and capabilities so they can develop mastery of and confidence in them. Financially, making strategic tech investments spreads out their cost of adoption over time — easing the outlay from IT budgets while maximizing growth initiatives and minimizing any financial risk.
Controlled growth really is a good thing. Adapting migration to an integrated platform at a more natural pace that suits their business needs and project requirements enables construction companies to be more organic in their digital transformation. It offers flexibility that may appeal to many companies that want to go the integrated platform route but on their terms. What can taking a modular construction tech approach to your own pursuit of integration look like? At InEight, we’re happy to discuss some options. Reach out to us to schedule a time to chat.