The Path to a Cleaner Tech Stack
Unlike peanut butter and jelly, construction and technology have not always gone together smoothly. Many articles and white papers have philosophized over why the construction industry was slow to adapt to technology.
However, it’s not as simple or straightforward as the headlines indicate. According to a 2017 KPMG survey of engineering and construction executives, 72% stated that technological innovation played a role in their vision.
However, the full integration of technology into the Architectural, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) world is far from complete. In the same KPMG survey noted above, only 48% of respondents noted they have actually created a data technology strategy.
In many ways, the AEC industry still regards apps/technology tools as shiny new objects, not as integral to a greater whole. This short sightedness typically leads to an ineffective tech stack and apps/tech tools not delivering on their promise.
To make the most of apps/tech tools, a company needs to have a clean tech stack. Let’s consider why companies can profit from a clean tech stack and how to do so.
The Need for Clean
As life seems to grow more complicated, many people long for simplicity. “Complexity confuses people,” according to an Inc. article. “It undermines their confidence and … is one of the mortal enemies of success.” The article goes on to laud the benefits of simplicity, “The simpler we can make things, the more understanding and belief our teams will have which will help improve their efficiency and effectiveness which generate better results.”
Yet, when it comes to the tech stack, it is far from simple, and indeed growing more convoluted.
If it seems like new tech and tools appear regularly, you may not be too far off. Consider that the typical tech stack for a mid-market company in 2020 included 185 different apps, according to Segment, a customer data platform (CDP) that helps companies harness first-party customer data.
Sounds overwhelming, doesn’t it? The research and advisory company Gartner thinks so. It identified tool sprawl as one of the “10 common monitoring ‘worst practices’ that can increase costs, lengthen outages, delay problem corrections and lead to unhappy customers.”
A mishmash of apps/tech tools speaking different languages and using different platforms is a modern-day Tower of Babel. And, to put it mildly, that construction project did not end well.
What to Consider When Growing/Developing a Stack
Construction firms bring in shiny new app/tech tools with the best of intentions. Goals often include transforming the workplace toward paperless (to whatever degree possible) and ending the spreadsheet madness that saps employee time and energy and makes reviewing financials a headache.
But eventually the accumulated apps/tech tools became more of a tech pile than a tech stack.
Let’s take a step back and consider how to develop the right tech stack and what to consider as you clean or streamline your tech stack.
A first step involves long-term thinking. Few good decisions are made in haste and without considering long-term repercussions. It’s especially important to be cautious and deliberate when developing and adding to your tech stack, since new apps/tech tools can be costly.
“With your overarching business strategy in mind, think about what you need to operate, as well as what’s necessary to reach your long-term goals,” says Podium, a messaging tool for customers interacting with local businesses. Consider whether the app/tech tool can scale as your company grows. Does it support your future goals?
Should I Stay Or Should I Go Now?
As an AEC firm cleans/builds its tech stack, there are some points to consider so the stack is not only helpful but efficient and a benefit to a firm’s bottom line.
FMI, a management consulting and investment banking firm dedicated exclusively to engineering and construction, infrastructure, and the built environment, puts forth two philosophies firms can follow: “They can either commit to a core ERP …, or they can opt for a ‘system of systems’ approach....”
However, there’s a third option that FMI leaves off their list: both.
Ultimately, the tech stack should include a few core “heart” solutions, or integrated solutions that offer multiple capabilities. For example, heart solutions can enable a paperless journey, minimize spreadsheets, and forge holistic tech stacks. In addition, they provide cutting-edge capabilities like automation, AI-driven forecasting, and machine learning. In construction, heart solutions fall into three primary categories:
● Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solutions
● Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions
● Corporate Performance Management (CPM) solutions
With these solutions as the pillars of an AEC firm’s tech stack, the firm can then add specialized point solutions as necessary.
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To read our full eBook on how to straighten up your tech stack, click here.