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Overcoming common barriers to digitalisation

12/02/2021

1 Hour Watch Time

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TRANSCRIPT


Lydia:

Hello and welcome to our webinar hosted by LNG Industry on behalf of InEight. Thank you all for joining us today. We have two wonderful presenters today from InEight. Catie Williams, director of product management, and Natalie Takacs, product manager of connected analytics. These two presenter us will chart a path through the most common challenges to digitalization and your best solutions to overcome them in a presentation titled Overcoming Common Barriers to Digitalization. We’ll have a Q&A session at the end of the presentation, so feel free to type any questions you may have as we go along and we’ll address them all at the end.

Lydia:

For those of you joining us on a mobile, you can access the question box by simply tapping the icon at the bottom of your screen. And if you’re on a desktop, there’s an orange arrow on the right hand side of your screen. And you can open the question box that way. Before we get started, just to let you all know that everyone who registered to attend the webinar will be emailed a full recording of this session to recap again in the future. I’ll now hand you over as the presentation begins.

Catie Williams:

Thank you, Lydia. I will get started. And then Natalie, you can introduce yourself. My name’s Catie Williams. Like Lydia said, I’m a director of product management. My background is in reporting and analytics. I would definitely call myself a data nerd. This topic is something that I could get on a soapbox and talk a lot about, but I will do my best to stay on topic and not let us go down too many rabbit holes, but Natalie and I could easily talk about this for hours. We’ll try to keep on time. But again, we’re really excited to talk about this. It’s definitely something that I feel a lot of passion about. Natalie, I don’t know if you want to say a little bit about yourself.

Natalie Takacs:

My name’s Natalie Takacs. I am the product manager for connected analytics products here at InEight. So I also would label myself as a data nerd a little bit, and I too could talk about this topic for a long time. My background is primarily in reporting and data and analytics, so that’s kind of what I live and breathe every single day.

Catie Williams:

Yeah, I was going to call you a data nerd, Natalie, but I didn’t want to do it for you. The topic that Lydia said that we were going to talk about is digitalization. I mean, that’s definitely a mouthful. We thought that… I know myself, when Natalie and I were preparing for this presentation and what we were going to talk about, I actually thought there was like a spelling typo. I’m like these aren’t two different words. You hear digitization in the industry a lot. You hear digitalization. And I didn’t really think that there was a significant difference between them. But then as we were talking about it, we realized the distinction is actually really pretty substantial.

Catie Williams:

And especially in our industry, because I think construction engineering, the maturity compared to other industries is different. I thought that the at least level setting on what we’re talking about would be important. I don’t know, Natalie, if you wanted to go through… When we were talking like maybe an example and explaining the difference here.

Natalie Takacs:

Sure. When we started talking about this and looking up the definitions and understanding that these are two different concepts and they mean different things, I tend to think about the digitization piece being companies in the technology industry starting to adopt digital softwares, processes, things of that nature. Think Excel spreadsheets, starting to track things in a digital way. But then as companies have evolved over time, they started to form those digital pieces into their processes. Adapting your processes to technology would be that digitalization piece. When I think about it, I think about it being kind of a journey. The first step was that digitization, that introduction of technology.

Natalie Takacs:

And as they started to adopt more technologies, companies started to fit their processes to the technology they’re using or design more processes around utilizing technology. I don’t know if you have anything to that.

Catie Williams:

Yeah, and I think from an industry, the digitization part, I think, everyone’s really on board with. That’s really happening. We’re seeing not a lot of pen and paper processes necessarily. We are definitely seeing that things are digital, computers, mobile devices, but it’s really that transformation that Natalie’s talking about that I think is the next of evolution of where we have to get to. How can we actually modify the business process to now be more efficient because of the technology?

Catie Williams:

When Natalie and I were thinking of examples, like time collection, maybe the current process is no longer to do paper time cards, but there’s still a process that requires your field workers to come into a trailer or into an office to collect time versus modifying that business process to be right there on the spot in the moment and actually having now time collection in the field so that you’ve cut down right on people having to come in to find Wi-Fi or location to get that data loaded. Instead, now it’s a centralized thing that you can do from a mobile device and it’s sending that data in. Again, versus making someone while using technology, but still not really adapting that process to fully maximize the capability of technology.

Catie Williams:

I think that’s a great segue to our next topic. Going from digitization now to digitalization, I think what that really makes me start to think about is this point versus integrated systems. We have a quote here from McKinsey. I’m sure a lot of you on the call follow McKinsey. They do great work providing metrics and benchmarks of where we’re at from an industry perspective. But again, to level set what we mean when we’re talking about point versus integrated system. Point system is it’s solving just a problem. Time collection is a perfect example of that. Maybe you have a timecard app that you use to collect time. But is it integrated into your overall system that does payroll?

Catie Williams:

Or does it allow you to see your cost in real time? Are all the data pieces connected to each other, which would be the difference between point versus integrated. I don’t want to steal all the thunder. I don’t know, Natalie, if you want to weigh in on what we’re seeing from an industry perspective and trend, but this point versus integrated system is pretty key to getting to a digitalized state.

Natalie Takacs:

Sure. Yeah. I think there are a couple things there that are pretty important to note. One is that point systems, they are very specialized systems that don’t necessarily have a lot of robust capabilities, but the functionality is very deep in one process. While an integrated system might not go that deep, it allows you to connect your data across systems. I think timecards are a really great example. Another example that I like to think about with this point versus integrated solutions conversation is change orders. Oftentimes, you’re managing your contracts in one space or one application, and then you’re managing your project controls and your cost in another.

Natalie Takacs:

Obviously a change order is going to impact both, so to have a way for those systems to talk back and forth eliminates a lot of time and potential for error. And then also, the timeliness of getting that information into your budgets or your costs is also pretty crucial there. I think being able to integrate from process to process is pretty important here.

Catie Williams:

Yeah. And I think we kind of have alluded to the concept of the ERP, and this call presentation is not meant to knock an ERP at all. But I think from an industry perspective, there’s some apprehension about how ERPs really provide value to the construction engineering space. And a lot of that is because they’re not really geared for this custom nature of the work that happens, right? Each project has its own contract requirements, its own deliverables. It’s very much a unique thing that gets delivered at the end during turnover. And an ERP is really set up to have a very repeated process. It works well for manufacturing, where things are happening repeatedly the same way.

Catie Williams:

But that’s not necessarily the case in construction and engineering, right? You’re going to have a very different contract method for this project versus another that then requires you to do things different on the project. While I think that ERPs work really well for your back office things, what we’re seeing in the industry is that that’s what’s causing all these point solutions to come about is because there’s a need for a system that provides a solution for that business process, very specialized like Natalie mentioned, but then the challenge is it’s not integrated. You’re then going to start to see that you’re doing dual data entry. You have poor data quality.

Catie Williams:

You get a lot of resistance. And a lot of these things we’re going to keep talking about as the presentation goes on, but you start to see that because you don’t have the integration, you have all these tools and you’re still not seeing the efficiency gained and that’s a lot because they’re not integrated. I think that that connectedness is really the key and point solutions can with work be connected to other things. But really when we go back to our first slide of the digitization, it’s not that there isn’t technology to solve the problems in our industry. It’s that you have to find the right tools and systems that then are connected, because that’s where you really start to see the gain.

Catie Williams:

I don’t know, Natalie, not to put you on the spot, if you have anything else before we move on to our next slide.

Natalie Takacs:

SURE. Yeah. When we’re talking about connection and connectivity and being specific to the construction industry, I kind of alluded to with the ERP that ERPS are great. In construction, you don’t have everybody sitting in one office. You don’t have everybody in your company even co-located, right? You can have projects throughout the world on different time zones. The communication isn’t necessarily easy. You could be spending more time trying to communicate across projects to your whole organization. Whereas when you have these integrated systems, you have the data flowing through from piece to piece.

Natalie Takacs:

If you have a project halfway across the world and your corporate office is trying to get information about how they close their month, if that’s all integrated into one system, you eliminate so many steps and potentially days that you are without that knowledge. I think that’s another important piece to note is that a construction industry is really different in that regard. And that’s a huge benefit of an integrated system for a company of that nature. I think I’m ready for the next.

Catie Williams:

Well, I love that you brought up the necessity of the decentralization for the project, because it is really important, right? That we find a solution that centralized, but supports the decentralized nature of the work of a construction project. I mean, it’s so physical. Just like you were saying, Natalie, when people are on the job, they’re very focused on that job, not necessarily the other things that are needed and required for the rest of the business to keep moving.

Catie Williams:

That’s where that integration becomes so key because if you’re off doing your own thing and you’re not providing the numbers that management knows what’s happening, or you’ve got something happening from a supplier perspective, all of that data flowing is so necessary, but also still being able to support the need to operate as that decentralized project.

Natalie Takacs:

Or heaven forbid, there’s a miscommunication that can cost lots of time and lots of money.

Catie Williams:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we’ve talked about some of these benefits, but I think to go into a little bit more detail, we just put some notes up here about what do you really gain by having an integrated system, making this transition from just having point solutions, being digitized, what’s really in it for you if you make that change. Again, some of these we talked about like data quality. I think about early in my career, a report that summarized all project data would only be stored in PDF, for example. If you ever needed to go back and find historical information, look at a project performed, you’d have to go and look at this PDF.

Catie Williams:

You’d have to find the PDF to start with. And then you had to assume that nothing else changed and that you had like the latest snapshot of this report, and that total changes when you’re in an integrated environment. And when data is flowing back and forth, that data quality becomes something you can count on. I do think it’s worth saying that it takes a while to get there. It takes a while to get your users to understand the importance of data, quality, how they impact data quality.

Catie Williams:

But once you get everyone on the same page about the inputs and then the outputs, which obviously Natalie and I could talk about a lot because we care about reporting and data and we can’t stress enough how important it is, but once you get everyone seeing that the role they play on that data quality, I mean, really powerful things start to happen because now I understand what me entering this piece of data drives, for example. Natalie, I don’t know if you want to talk about another one in here.

Natalie Takacs:

Sure. I have a couple of comments about data quality actually. With an integrated system, you are eliminating the touch points of data being entered. When you have the data being entered in one source and it flows throughout the system, you don’t have people manually receive and then enter that same number multiple times. That significantly decreases your risk of error. You also decrease your potential… The number of times you’re moving data from system to system decreases the lag. It decreases all kinds of potential issues that could arise with the data.

Natalie Takacs:

If you are working with many siloed systems trying to bring them together, that bringing them together piece can cause a lot of issues. And that’s probably something we’ll touch on later when we start to talk more about timeliness. But I really agree. I think data quality is crucial to getting accurate reporting and analytics, and it really drives the value of this concept of an integrated system, because if you can’t trust your data, what’s the point?

Catie Williams:

I don’t know that we planned on talking about that, but if you are requiring your users to enter a bunch of data and you don’t plan to utilize it, think of the time wasted of requiring to do those steps. I think often, and I’m going on a tangent or a soapbox now, but usually when a system is created, reporting is the last thing you think about. But really you should be thinking about what are the current things and decisions and information that I don’t know today. If I did know that, how would that help me? And then that helps back into, well, what do I really care about to be collected? And then those are the things that you can focus on from a getting right perspective.

Catie Williams:

We talk a little bit about how you go about this later on in the presentation. But from an implementation perspective, identifying your key critical path items really, right? What are the key things in driving decisions for your business that then you can put process around to make sure are put into your system correctly? When you have a bunch of point solutions, just like Natalie said, things aren’t talking to each other. I mean, now you’re relying on someone either taking that data and putting it into another system and getting it right and not making any mistakes. And I can guarantee you that doesn’t happen. Data entry is not without error. Or worse, someone doesn’t even know that system exists, and so they’re flying blind.

Catie Williams:

I mean, that’s where the data visibility and all of these been benefits right here are related to each other. But by having integration, that now means that you can know what two other projects are doing. Or maybe if you have a centralized purchasing group, you know what decisions they’re making. You know what’s happening from a contract perspective. All of that data starts to become accessible to you to then help drive better business decisions. I’ll pause, Natalie.

Natalie Takacs:

I think that kind of dovetails into the benefit of productivity, because as you talk about manual data entry, combining data from different silos into one place, those are steps that are taken care of by a system that is completely integrated, right? I think there are two facets of productivity here. There’s one from your data gathering and data reporting piece, but also from your field, right? If they’re only entering data in one spot, if they only have to enter some data, if some of it is manually captured and flows from another piece of the process, you’re eliminating steps there as well. Actually you’re able to increase your productivity because you’re wasting less time doing manual steps and doing really repetitive medial work.

Catie Williams:

I think you also are creating this opportunity, and I don’t think we have anything in our presentation we’re going to talk about this, but you’re creating this opportunity later to be able to leverage that data for some of the machine learning. I won’t go down that lane too far, but where now you can make guesses at what someone is entering and really start to reduce some of that manual work, right? I think about like putting in components, for example, or having to do a daily plan, and some of that data is pretty repetitive.

Catie Williams:

You have same crew, and so can it make suggestions to you so then you’re really starting to see those productivity gains, where now that process isn’t as manual because it’s making educated guesses, which then you always would have the ability to override, right? But all of that is predicated on having a system that’s talking to each other, putting in good quality data and understanding what that data drives and the downstream impacts. But you don’t get that if you have a system that doesn’t talk to each other, or worse, if you’re doing it still completely outside of the digitized space. I was going to use the word wrong.

Natalie Takacs:

No, I agree. I think that also, again, kind of moving through our benefits here, that’s just a big point of data visibility, like being able to have visibility to those things, especially if you’re starting to look at benchmarking. What did you do in the past? How can you correct or repeat? And that also is part of the whole machine learning AI component, which I don’t want to go too far into, because I’ll take this totally off course here. I think giving visibility to different pieces of the organization, being able to see previous similar projects, similar daily plans, that’s a pretty big piece that you’re able to have with an integrated system versus a point solution.

Catie Williams:

We didn’t specifically call it out, but that timely information. I mean, I know that having been in this space for a while, I know that sometimes you only get results monthly, right? If even then. And how can you really drive decisions on your project if you don’t really know how you did only on a monthly basis? That timely information where everything’s integrated so you should be able to get pretty close to real time data to tell you whether or not you’re on track, if you need to make adjustments. I mean, that’s so critical to being able to actually impact your project.

Catie Williams:

I’ve heard stories before where it’s like you get a report that’s way far… It’s too far past, right? We can’t make a difference now. We didn’t know the information we were supposed to know. And if you have, again, the point solutions and you’re reliant on someone else to put information manually into another system or generate reports that then could potentially not make it to you, you don’t have the information in the time that you need to drive decisions, which can have disastrous impacts.

Natalie Takacs:

Oh, absolutely. Well, you kind of range in the spectrum from really dramatic changes to smaller changes that could then add up to a dramatic change such as performing what if analysis, right? being able to go in and enter numbers and see them immediately in reporting. That’s pretty big, so you can determine how you want to plan your work, right? I think that being able to come up with your best course of path forward is also enabled through that timely information. I think it’s definitely a wide range, a wide spectrum that impacts anybody in a construction organization, from your field engineers to your executives in the corporate office.

Natalie Takacs:

It touches so many pieces. It’s really important. And like you said, what good does this report do me because I can’t affect change at this point in time? You allow yourself to be able to catch things before they become a problem. And even I know we’ve looked at some reporting where it can even draw your eye to something and give you that multidimensional analysis of, well, I think this is the problem, but let me confirm. It’ll allow you to really get to the root of your problems to be able to course correct before it’s too late.

Catie Williams:

Yeah. I mean, again, all this prep work enables the real time alerts and indicators that you have an issue. The potential predicting of an issue that you have, right? I mean, again, those are all the like really big benefits that you get. The first step is deciding that you need to have an integrated system. And our next slide, we’re going to go through how you actually do that because we don’t want to mislead you that it’s this easy thing. You just flip of a switch and everything’s integrated and everybody’s on board.

Catie Williams:

But once you put in that time and the investment and getting everyone on the system, those are the things that start to become very possible and that’s where you really start to see your return. So unless you have anything else to add on this, Natalie, we’re going to segue into how is this possible.

Natalie Takacs:

Yeah, that’s good.

Catie Williams:

Let our slide build out here really quick. Like as I mentioned and Natalie will say the same thing, this isn’t an overnight thing you can do. I mean, it’s a significant organizational change. It requires a culture change. I mean, it’s hard. We talk about change management in this presentation too. But I mean, when we talk about how do you actually get started, how do you take this big philosophical idea of having everything integrated and then you make it tangible and really do something, our suggestions would be starting with the low hanging fruit. There is usually something that makes sense, a business process that makes sense where you can start small.

Catie Williams:

You’ve got a champion on board. You’ve got somebody in the organization that feels really strongly about how this change could impact and drive value, and they’re willing. They’re willing to try to go and get people on board. That’s really where we would say to focus time is picking something that maybe it doesn’t impact all of your users, but it would have a lot of value. It doesn’t seem overly complex from a business process perspective, so focusing there, and then finding someone that’s willing to go on the journey with you to be the champion, the stakeholder, the person that talks to projects and tries to get them on board with this change. That is really a good place to start. I’ll let you jump in, Natalie.

Natalie Takacs:

Yeah. And I think even before you pick your process, I think taking stock of your pain points can help you identify the low hanging fruit, just because obviously it’s easier to get someone, like a group of people to rally around fixing a pain point. I think that speaks volumes to being able to get people on board in your organization is to find processes that you want to improve, issues that you’re seeing today. Anything really, honestly, that is impacting multiple people across your organization I think is a really good first step.

Catie Williams:

Yeah. I think that goes back to when… Natalie and I have been a part of a lot of these implementations, and we’re always on the front kind of with the data side and then the end, which is the output. I think that you brought up a great point about identifying where you have an issue. It’s easy to do if you say, “Let me look at the information I have available to me and what don’t I have? What am I missing? What decisions do I not know? What are the things that I’m just relying on experience and kind of like a gut check? And how can then I work my way backwards to figure out, okay, how can I capture it?”

Catie Williams:

I mean, I’ve been a part of a lot of these implementations where someone asks for a report and we say, “Well, it’s not possible because you’re not even collecting that data.” And again, like we kind of talked about, well then, what’s the point of making someone do all things if you’re not even going to get what you want out of the output? So really taking stock of that output that you’re interested in, the decisions that you can’t currently make that you want to be able to make is a great place to have an inventory of. And then potentially using something… Maybe you have an answer, but you need better data quality.

Catie Williams:

That could be a great place to start of saying, “Okay, I know this thing, but I want to make sure that I’m getting good, accurate information, so we’re going to start there from a process perspective.” And maybe, Natalie, I know we talked a lot about the importance of that champion. Maybe you could talk a little bit about like the top down, bottom up type of different approaches and what we think works best.

Natalie Takacs:

Sure. I think it’s crucial to have your executive leadership on board. I mean, obviously they’re the ones that have to be okay with the decision and help make the moves to get you there, but you also have to have kind of everybody on board. That’s a really tough challenge, which we’re going to go into a little bit more later about what that challenge looks like, but having that top down approach, that executive sponsorship, is huge because that holds weight, that holds influence within your organization. And assuming you have an organization built on trust, that’ll get you a long way and that’ll really help trickle down right out to your field that, hey, this is a change we need to make.

Natalie Takacs:

This is really going to be beneficial to us in the long run. And just focusing, really focusing on the positives and the benefits that are going to come. Like Catie mentioned, designing with the end in mind. Understanding what it is that you will eventually be able to get from your system and all of the hard work and all of the process change. Focusing on that end goal through your executive leadership, I think, is probably a really… It’s a really sound foundational approach to implementing an integrated system, and it’ll definitely set you up for success in the long run. But it’s a change. It’s a big change.

Catie Williams:

Yeah. You said something I think that just made me think about… I think it’s easy to see like flashy technology and to be kind of enticed by that. Ooh, it’s got all these bells and whistles and it can do this and that. I mean, I’m the first person to say, personally, I’m like that too. It’s like, Ooh! But do you really need it? I think that’s part of this process is figuring out what are the things that are noisy? What are the things that drive the most value? What is your critical path to… What are the three things that you need to know every day to keep making sure that things are going the right direction? And then do you have them? Are you getting them in a repeatable way?

Catie Williams:

Are you getting them in a timely way? Is it quality, or do you frequently have to call a job and check, right? I mean, I hear about that all the time. At month end to get results, people start picking up the phone and saying, “Well, what about this? And I think that’s wrong.” I mean, you can’t rely on that process to grow. One of the key themes that we should be pushing here is that in order to continue growing as an organization, your competitors are doing this. You’ve got to get on board with finding a way to drive this change inside your organization to be able to keep growing, because there’s definitely a breakeven point of being able to maintain using manual processes and not sharing information.

Catie Williams:

If you want to get past that to be able to keep growing your business, adopting pieces of this are going to be required. I mean, otherwise, your competition is just going to surpass you. I’m, again, jumping ahead a little bit because I do that and we’ll talk about some of those risks of not moving. But like Natalie said, having a champion and having an executive sponsor is great, but I love the phrase, work with the willing too. Finding people in the organization that are change agents, that want to do this, that see the need, that are excited about the potential are the right people to put on this type of project. We didn’t talk about leveraging data much that’s on this slide.

Catie Williams:

I mean, we talked about it a little bit in terms of like the output that you get, but it is really important to figure out based on taking stock of what you have, and Natalie talked about this, to figure out where you have those upstream issues. That’s really what we mean by that point of leveraging the data is using what you already have or what you don’t know to then impact and influence how you back into what processes you should attack first. I don’t know, Natalie. Do you have anything else on the how before we switch over to the change management and why this doesn’t happen everywhere?

Natalie Takacs:

Sure. One thing that came to mind while you were talking about researching kind of what you need and understanding where to start is also the flip side of that. I’ve seen a lot of analysis paralysis I’ll call it, where you get kind of stuck, right? You’re trying to make the right decision. You keep kind of spinning wheels and analyzing your processes and going deeper and deeper and deeper without starting. You have to just start at some point. You have to garner support. I love work with the willing. I think that’s a really, really good phrase to use. Get those people on board and then just start. I think that you can think about it. You can plan about it over and over again, but you just have to start.

Catie Williams:

Oh, that’s so perfect, Natalie, because you’ll never get it right the first time. Again, we don’t want to mislead anyone on the call to thinking this is going to be easy, that it won’t be bumpy, because you’ll never get it perfect the first time. Technology is always adapting. You’re always going to run into some issues. But just like Natalie said, starting is the most important thing. And then making sure that your users kind of get used to that, that you’re starting somewhere. It can evolve. It’s not permanent. It doesn’t have to be forever for them, right? It will always continue to improve and get better. But it’s like the old methodology of using waterfall, right?

Catie Williams:

If you follow that where it’s never… You can’t release it until it’s perfect and ready. You’ll never release it all. I love that analysis paralysis comment that you made, Natalie, because that’s so true that a lot of emphasis gets put on making it perfect and making sure that it’s bug free and that no one’s going to have a rocky experience. But at some point, you do really have to just… And you should do it with a friendly group. Test it out with a friendly group. You don’t have to do it with your most harshest critics, for example, but you definitely have to just start. And I think that’s a great suggestion, Natalie.

Natalie Takacs:

I’m glad you said waterfall, because I was also thinking about how it is an agile process. You have to be agile within the process of implementing software. For anybody that’s familiar with software design, it’s an agile process to design the software. It’s an agile process to implement the software.

Catie Williams:

It is extremely agile and iterative to get to a working business process, right? I mean, you might over process it or over-engineer the process at first with way too many steps. I’m kind of an anti-process person myself. I always struggle if I see a lot of massive flow chart with all these steps, but there’s a healthy amount of process and you’ve got to get there and find it, but it’s always iterative. You’re always making adjustments to say, “Oh, that didn’t work. Let’s try that instead.” It’s no different for technology great. I’m glad that you brought that up, Natalie.

Catie Williams:

Okay, so change management, because this is definitely a big topic, and a lot of these we could talk an entire hour or webinar just about each of these individual topics. Change management is always one of those subjects I think that it’s always underestimated in terms of how hard it’s going to be. I think I hear a lot, “Oh, it’s just change management. Oh, it’s not that bad,” but change management is really, really hard. And instead of me just continuing to pontificate, I’m going to let Natalie jump in and maybe kick off this topic for us.

Natalie Takacs:

Sure. I’ll just kind of start out on the left hand side. A lot of people when they hear big changes coming, they fear losing their job. Fortunately, sorry, not unfortunately, fortunately, that’s not a real concern and it can be debunked, because you’re always going to need people. You’re going to need people to implement. You’re going to need people to train. You’re going to need people to be your subject matter experts and to assist those in the field. There’s always going to be a need for people. Technology is not going to take away anyone’s job.

Natalie Takacs:

It’s going to make their lives easier. Digitalization is at its core integrated systems, at its core is just improving processes. It’s not to eliminate human bodies. It’s really, honestly, just to make them more productive and, like I said, make their jobs easier. [Crosstalk 00:34:33].

Catie Williams:

High value work, right? I mean, the goal is to get them out of data entry and instead really focused on the skills that they bring to the table.

Natalie Takacs:

Yeah, to allow people to do more thought based things rather than just medial tasks. I think that’s a huge misconception is people think robots are coming, but they’re not.

Catie Williams:

Well, they might be coming, but, I mean, it’s still a ways off. But I agree with you that you’re always going to need people. I do think it’s important to reduce that or eliminate that stigma and fear early on in your journey or maybe when you’re communicating about this or trying to initiate the change of really getting your staff and your employees to think about how this will help them instead of having them be reactive and thinking, “Oh, well, you’re just trying to eliminate something that only I’m an expert in.” Because I think at the end of the day, I hear a lot that like, “Our data is our competitive advantage.” And sure, there is definitely insights that make that happen, but it’s the people.

Catie Williams:

It’s your people that understand the process. They understand the work. They understand how to get things done and the skills they bring to the table in order to make that happen. This should just be seen as another tool that assists them and get them out of doing a bunch of manual work that could be error prone or isn’t valuable in terms of what they’re actually entering. I think that that’s a very important part of the journey as you’re implementing a new system is to shift your employee’s thinking of they’re not losing their job and they could end up being the expert of the system too. There’s a great opportunity to be a very integral person of the entire process.

Natalie Takacs:

Yeah. It’s definitely one of those things where jumping on board is really honestly just the best way to move forward. I think from that, the other thing about human resistance to technology is that one thing I hear a lot is, “Oh, I’ve got this gut feeling. Technology and data can’t replace my experience and my gut feeling.” No, they can’t. Technology isn’t going to, again, take away the human element and the experience. Kind of like we talked about earlier, a challenge is that data quality is a challenge.

Natalie Takacs:

If you have bad data, you have to have that human to look at it and say, “That’s not right. I want to look at this a little deeper and get to the bottom of it.” You’re never going to eliminate that human experience and that human decision-making skill.

Catie Williams:

Yeah. When we were talking about low hanging fruit, I like to call this your captain obvious example. A great way to justify or validate the experience someone has is to pick a process where you have a lot of confidence in what the answer should be, and then use the system to help just support that. Because it’s one thing for a person to be able to say, “Oh, I do this operation really great, and I’ve got the best PF. My job’s better than everyone else,” but to actually be able to use data to demonstrate that, and then have a report that then compares like pouring concrete and the productivity factors for each job or each crew, right? So then you drive a little competition to show that, yeah, you’re right.

Catie Williams:

Your experience is what makes that PF so great. And now you can drive everyone else to perform in that same way, because we can share it. It’s not just known on that job or known in your group or your crew that you’re the best at that operation and making sure that it’s done the best. I think that they really compliment each other. They’re not meant to be one or the other. I think, Natalie, you said a really good point about you’re always going to need a human to make decisions. It’s just, let’s get you the information to make the decision faster.

Catie Williams:

So instead of you having to comb through hundreds of pages of information, let’s surface to you what is the answer or the things that you need to go focus on, and that’s what having this integration is really going to provide. If you think about the ability once you’ve got all your jobs in the same system, well, now managers and sponsors and owners can see really quickly where everything is at versus having to line by line check everything, right? They can surface the projects that are in trouble. They can surface the projects that are doing really well. And then that can help drive how can other projects do well.

Catie Williams:

I mean, again, they need to coexist together. There’s no suggest of it’s one or the other, but it’s definitely a topic that comes up a lot and creates some resistance for sure.

Natalie Takacs:

Absolutely. I love embracing technology, so of course, I love that idea. But then kind of moving on from that, another piece is training. People are also resistant because it can be a pretty big effort in training. Not only the training, but the designing of the process to then train people on. Kind of going back to that whole, you have to get started, it’s not going to be perfect, there are going to be changes. You are going to have to continually be iteratively training people as your processes are iteratively evolving.

Natalie Takacs:

Another challenge is that it takes time to train. It takes time for users to get up to speed to where they can seamlessly integrate integrated processes into their daily work. I think that is something that often makes people shy to implementing anything new really is, well, how do I make sure everybody does it? And how do I make sure everybody does it the way we want it to be done from a corporate perspective? I don’t know if you have any experience with that, Catie.

Catie Williams:

Yes, but I wanted to say one thing that while you were talking, this is a big spot I think that point solutions really break down. When you have five different tools, they all have a different UI. They all have a different… I click this button for this, or I right click that. Those little things start to add up that constantly having to remember, “Oh, I’m in this tool, so then I need to do this, or I have this list of like 15 tasks that I have to do to just to get something, like in a workflow, move to the next step.”

Catie Williams:

I do think, and I’m sorry that I digressed from what you asked me, Natalie, but I wanted to make sure to call it out that training with point solutions definitely I think has a harder curve in terms of adoption because you’ve got… People just get overwhelmed. There’s so many tools. I got a tool for that and a tool for this. When you can get everyone onto a common platform and everything’s talking and the experience is the same and you know what to expect from an action, I mean, that saves a ton of time from productivity and efficiency. I mean, I know that just how impacted I am when a tool I use every day isn’t working the way I expect, right?

Catie Williams:

It just gets exacerbated at such a larger scale when you’re having all these independent solutions that don’t work together and your users are trying to figure out how to use them and be more efficient and productive. The opposite tends to happen.

Natalie Takacs:

Absolutely.

Catie Williams:

What was your question to me? I’m sorry, Natalie.

Natalie Takacs:

No. Do you have any experience with getting feedback from people about the effort to train up on new systems? I think you kind of touched… I mean, obviously you do because you just talked about getting up to date different point solutions. You did answer the question. But to your point, I mean, there’s an application that I use almost daily and recently the app made a change that added more steps to be able to do the things that I need to do in it. I’m probably three weeks in at this point and I’m still not adjusted to doing the different changes. I think that’s something you tend to see across point solutions is that UI patterns aren’t the same, like you alluded to.

Natalie Takacs:

Users have to learn different patterns, and then you have all the IT costs that goes behind managing the different systems, right? Because every system’s going to have a different architecture, a different configuration, a different way for you to extract that data and then report off of it. There’s a lot there in terms of the seamlessness of an integrated solution. And kind of circling it back to training, that makes it easier on everyone. The training for your IT shop on how to troubleshoot, how to extract data, and for the users, how to move from product to product within your integrated system for application to application or process to process. It’s the same. That big mountain of training, it’s a little bit smaller.

Catie Williams:

Yeah. I think you touched on the last two that we didn’t specifically call out, like the impact to existing processes and then the lack of champions. When you bundle those together and you think about, well, I can do my current tasks, like maybe it’s claiming quantities for example. I can do it today and it’s really fast. It only takes me… I don’t know what a good number is if I’m thinking of a non-integrated system. But if it takes five seconds per code or something, and then you now go and say it’s going to take 10 seconds, well, that’s significant in terms of now I’m doing more. It didn’t make my life easier.

Catie Williams:

Knowing that, when the user knows that initially they’re going to have a slower process, even if it ends up being better, because let’s just say that now I can bulk claim, right, as part of the new process. But I’m going to show resistance when I know that it’s going to take me a minute to figure it out and learn it. I think it’s innate to us is to say, “I’m resistant to the change. You’re trying to push onto me, because right now I can, I’ve got it memorized. I can just click, click, click, and I’m done. But now you’re asking me to do something different.” And again, even if it ends up having a positive impact, it’s still initially, right, it is very challenging for users to want to do.

Catie Williams:

Acknowledging that and then the having champions is so important. Somebody that you know is assigned to a business process. And when someone runs into an issue, they have a phone where they can actually call up somebody and they can help them through. Maybe you can live interact with that person in the application when you’re running into issues. I think there’s a lot of ways to make sure that the person that’s trying to adopt this new process is fully supported so that they don’t have to feel like they’re alone. They’re learning this on their own.

Catie Williams:

It’s really important to have real champions, that when something new comes out that is more efficient, they can call people they know that are using it and say, “Hey, I have a way that will make it easier.” And yes, you might take a week or two, like Natalie was saying, she’s got a new process she’s learning right now. It may take initially a little bit more, but here’s the payoff in the long run, or maybe it does add five or 10 seconds to what you’re doing, but now you know your daily cost, for example, or you know how you actually did or if you’re performing better than your peers, for example.

Catie Williams:

Making sure that the user understands the change and why it was made and what it provides to them, the value they’ll get out of it are great ways to try to get them past that initial like, “I don’t want to do it because you’re interrupting my flow. You’re interrupting the way I work.” I mean, it’s going to be really critical to making this work.

Natalie Takacs:

I agree.

Catie Williams:

I think, Natalie, it is a great… We can switch to like the risks of not acting because we’ve talked a little bit about some of these, but I mean, at the end of our presentation, to me, this is where the most important piece is. Because if you don’t do these things that we’re talking about, if you’re slow to get moving on this journey, I think there’s really going to start to be some challenges that you face organizationally, and productivity is one. But I mean, one I feel a lot of passion around is just finding people. I mean, everyone is struggling with finding skilled resources.

Catie Williams:

And if you don’t have new technology, you’re requiring people to do a lot of manual work, their job is not fun because they’re having to deal with old systems that don’t talk to each other and you’ve got them… They’re supposed to be doing A and you have them doing something completely different because you don’t have an integrated system or a system that supports the work they have to do. I think it will be very tough to continue finding people that want to work in your organization and even retaining them too. You’ll have people start to leave and go somewhere else. I don’t know, Natalie, if you wanted to cover another one, or if you have something you wanted to add onto that.

Natalie Takacs:

Yeah, I mean, you look at curriculum in education, they’re starting to train construction degrees in technology, and that’s becoming a huge thing for the next generation coming up into the industry. Being able to attract and retain that talent through the use of technology and implementation in your organization is going to be pretty big. I mean, most people are looking to attract young talent and get more people in the door. Like you said, hiring is huge. And then to be able to have technology that makes your life easier too is another bonus. It’s a competitive advantage in the hiring space, in the retention space, for sure.

Natalie Takacs:

This is something I kind of wanted to touch on earlier, but to be able to show owners the data of how the process is going and how the project is going at any point at turnover and commissioning to be able to handover documentation that has been collected throughout the process, those are going to be huge things when you’re going through that process of getting the job or making that relationship with the owner to have that competitive advantage over the other contractors or other companies that you’re competing for or competing with for a job. That’s going to be a huge leg up.

Catie Williams:

Well, and I think you allude to it, but to emphasize, without requiring manual work. Today, if you wanted to show a client where you’re at on your project or even your management team, how much manual work goes into preparing a presentation, taking screenshots of things, going and grabbing some data from here and grabbing some data? I mean, wouldn’t it be great if you could just say, “Oh, here’s the dashboard and it’s the health of our project. And here’s the potential change orders we have. Here’s some schedule impact items. Here’s our critical path.” I mean, that would be so powerful to not have all that prep time. I mean, so much time gets put into preparing for some of these status and update meetings.

Catie Williams:

But then when you have an integrated system, everything’s there. Everything’s talking to each other, so there is this elimination. I think it impacts your owner or your relationship with those people also, because there’s this feeling of transparency. If you can just pull up your system and say, “Yeah, here’s where we’re at. This is going really well. This is an area that we’re working on,” and it doesn’t have to be this, “Oh, well, it took me two weeks to prepare a PowerPoint presentation for you and here I’m sending to you.” And now who knows how up to date it is because something might have changed.

Catie Williams:

I mean, changing that process is just one of the many benefits that you get, and it’s starting to become the expectation in the industry as well, that everything is talking to each other, that you know your schedule impacts and how that plays with your cost management. I mean, it is really important to be able to show that you have that full picture. I think being able to show that you can do it at any point in time, it’s not this huge exercise to create this package that you manually had to put together. I’ll keep going, but also losing projects to competitors. I think the saying is, if you’re not growing, you’re dying.

Catie Williams:

I mean, I think that’s very true, that if you aren’t continuing to make strides and improving your processes, improving the way that you do work, your competitors are just going to keep passing you by. They are going to move on to adopting this and they’ll work through the change management challenges organizationally, but they’ll use all the data they’re putting into this integrated system to figure out what should their bid be. It will become more competitive. They’ll have more past cost information. They have all this historical benchmark information to make them more competitive, which will start to impact your ability to get new work. Natalie, you talked already about the increased technology costs, but this is not a moot point anymore.

Catie Williams:

I mean, technology is an asset. It can be expensive. Natalie was saying when you have a bunch of point solutions, you’ve got all these different licenses you’re keeping track of and potentially hardware if things aren’t hosted in the cloud. While it seems like, “Oh, well, we’ll just add another technology. It’s no big deal. It’s only a couple hundred bucks per user,” but that just starts to get bigger and bigger until your costs are completely unmanageable from a technology perspective. And while, again, like an integrated system, it’s going to have costs for sure, but at least from a landscape when you look at it, it definitely makes it more manageable.

Catie Williams:

And then you don’t have to have a lot of different resources, that this one knows this type of system and how it works from a hardware and software perspective, and then I’ve got another specialist. All of that comes into play with both indirect and direct costs from a technology perspective and, honestly, out in the field too, because you’re going to see you’ve got an expert on your scheduling system. You’ve got an expert on project controls. And when you have integration, people start to pick up more about the system, right? Just naturally that happens. It may be outside of their scope of control, but they start to learn a lot more about how the data’s through.

Catie Williams:

They understand, and there aren’t these hard… This system doesn’t talk to this one, so I now need to find a way to get things into here. That goes away and your resources really start to understand who they’re working within the organization and how what they do impacts their job and vice versa.

Natalie Takacs:

I think another thing you risk, kind of dovetailing off of that quickly, I’ll be quick, is you have your SMEs, your subject matter experts, on your point solutions, on your project, or in your organization. But what do you do when they leave and they take that knowledge, that experience with them? If you have one person that is your person for this one system, how do you transition all of that experience and all of that knowledge fresh to someone else? If you’re working with integrated systems, a lot of it’s the same across.

Natalie Takacs:

There’s a lot of similarities between processes that are easier to pick up on and a lot of that shared experience across the organization can fill in those gaps as people shift and move within your organization. I think that’s something we didn’t really plan on talking about, but that came to mind as you were just talking there.

Catie Williams:

No, I mean, so powerful. You go to a new job. It’s got the same system. No learning curve. But you think now, right? Every time you go onto a project, it’s something new. New processes. New systems. I mean, think of the savings that you would have if every time someone… I get the same thing every time. I know the system already. I’m efficient. I mean, it’s definitely powerful.

Natalie Takacs:

Absolutely.

Catie Williams:

I think we’re out of time though. We’re supposed to open it up for Q&A. Lydia, sorry. I told you we could talk for the full time or more if we [inaudible 00:54:37]

Lydia:

Thank you for the presentation. That was really, really engaging. If anyone has any questions, I know, personally, you answered every single question that I thought of during that. You came back to it. But if anyone has any questions, do type them into your sidebar and we can get to that. Kicking off with the first question, do you feel that, you said about this difficulty retaining employees, are younger people more attracted to the fact there’s training and development, whereas older people that have been used to a certain way of working for years, it’s putting them off a bit learning a new way?

Catie Williams:

You go, Natalie.

Natalie Takacs:

I think technology is a huge magnet for younger talent. I feel like you kind of see this in any industry, in any organization, anybody that’s tenured or seasoned in what they’re doing and they think it’s working for them, they’re going to be resistant to change no matter what. I mean, even me, I’m not super far into my career, but when I get introduced to new processes, at first, it’s a little bit shocking to me. Like, “Whoa! I thought what I was doing was just fine.” But always, again, going back to the benefit is just the key.

Natalie Takacs:

Going back to how it’s going to save people time, going back to how it’s going to make it more productive, I think those… Hopefully that answers the question, but I think those are two key and very common things to see in the industry.

Lydia:

Super. Thank you.

Catie Williams:

That was great, Natalie. You hit that out of the park.

Lydia:

A question about InEight. It’s a very large system, has different modules, and they’re quite large themselves. How do you ensure there’s consistency across the platform?

Catie Williams:

It is very challenging because we are all moving in our… There’s multiple products, so they’re all moving right against their own roadmap. But we do have a centralized user interface, user experience group that helps to make sure that we’re all using a consistent library. But it is challenging because it could slow… I mean, just everything we’ve outlined is things that you go through on software development too. There are so many parallels between the construction process and software development, but we’re resistant too and we don’t want to be slowed down. We’ve got deliverables. We’ve got commitments that we’ve made, but we know that at the end of the day that unified experience is so critical to adoption and the continued use of our tools.

Lydia:

Cool. Thank you. I’m sure this is going to be specific completely depending on your business, but is there a vague sort of timeline which this type of effort takes to implement successfully?

Catie Williams:

I mean, I would say it definitely depends, and it depends on your implementation approach because you could choose to do like only new projects, or I don’t think we ever recommend big bang, which would be like everybody get onto something, but that is an idea. You could change a business process and have everybody do it. But I think we’ve found the most success is to take a project that maybe is relatively low risk and then use that project to work through. I mean, I would break it into sprints.I mean, I think realistically a quarter, so 12 weeks of time, is a good amount of time to start something and get a project on to it.

Catie Williams:

But it definitely would depend on what you’re trying to do, the complexities, but our suggestions would be to start with something that is lower risk. Again, you have like those willing, the champion people that are on it that are excited about new technology. You will definitely get to a production state faster if you set it up and purposely pick a project to start it with.

Lydia:

Okay.

Catie Williams:

I was trying to go short because I know we’re running low on time.

Lydia:

This next question’s a bit of a mouthful, but what are some barriers in digitalization efforts for spare part management in computerized maintenance management systems? And how can you overcome these barriers to have the most efficient maintenance plan?

Catie Williams:

Oh, I definitely think we have to take that one offline, but we can definitely get an answer for that one. But I think we only have a minute left and I don’t even know if I could say part of it without running out of time.

Lydia:

Okay. Last one we’ll go to because you have so such great ideas, any suggestions on how to kick off the cultural shift required to make this a successful project?

Natalie Takacs:

Catie, I’ll be short. I think starting at the top. You have to have that executive support. And then like Catie mentioned, you’ve got to pull in those people that are excited, those people that are engaged, those people that are passionate about making a change, and then just use those as your agents of changed throughout your organization to get people on board.

Catie Williams:

You got to find quick wins too, right? Find those quick wins and really promote them in the organization to get people excited about the value and the impact they’re going to see to their job and making it easier. That’s definitely going to be key too.

Lydia:

Wonderful.

Natalie Takacs:

 

Lydia:

Thank you, Catie and Natalie, for today’s presentation and the Q&A. I feel like we blitz the questions. So if you have any further information that anyone needs or has any questions, then direct it to these two or the team at InEight and they can advise you on anything you may need. Also, just a reminder that everyone who signed up will receive full recording of this, so you can recap anything that you may need to in the future. Thank you so much again. Have a lovely rest of your day.

Catie Williams:

Thank you.

Natalie Takacs:

Thank you so much for having us.

Lydia:

Thanks. Bye.

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