Why the Construction Industry Needs to Stop Seeing Software as a Cost

There’s a troubling trend in the construction industry — companies are failing to adopt the latest construction software because they view it as a “cost” and not an “investment.” This mindset has stunted the growth of construction technology because it shows companies are viewing it as a short-term solution, and not the future. This is a huge problem when you consider that construction is one of the largest, and most inefficient, industries in the world.

As an industry, we need to implement new technology to become more efficient, accurate, and collaborative, and the companies that don’t, are going to get left behind. It’s time to stop wasting time, money, and resources. Here’s why our industry needs to stop seeing software as a cost and think long-term.

Software is an investment, not a cost

First, let’s differentiate between cost vs. investment. A cost is an operating expense that is difficult to tie to revenue. Costs preserve the status quo of the business and enable it to continue operating on the same trajectory. When we can cut costs and maintain our business operations, we (or our finance teams) pat ourselves on the back.

An investment, on the other hand, is an expense we pay upfront that we expect will generate returns in the future. We know it will require some resources now, but it’s worth it because we anticipate it will pay off later. The construction industry understands the importance of investments for business growth. We invest in all kinds of things, like employees, new tools and equipment, and infrastructure.

We now have software for managing every aspect of the construction process, from preconstruction to completion. In the past, companies used paper, on-site meetings, whiteboards, and fax machines to manage construction projects. Now, we have secure, fast, and agile software that automates time-consuming tasks and eliminates sources of error and frustration.

Software improves employee satisfaction

Failure to implement software is also negatively impacting employee satisfaction and productivity. Studies show that construction companies that adopt the latest technologies dramatically increase productivity and employee job satisfaction. One study found that 93 percent of people think greater technology use would improve their workplace, and 64 percent think their company won’t be able to keep up with the competition if they don’t implement new technology.

Research also shows that 44 percent of employees in companies that are technology laggards are frustrated with their jobs and are 600 percent more likely to leave their jobs. Let that sink in — 600 percent! Expect attrition if you don’t provide your team with the software they need to be successful and productive in their jobs. Anecdotally, I know of many estimators who have left their roles because their company refused to implement software. They left for companies that invested in preconstruction software to automate tasks, allowing them to do more meaningful work.

In his classic book Crossing the Chasm, software marketing pioneer Geoffrey Moore explains the technology adoption curve, which is made up of five different segments: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. As the construction industry technology extends beyond early adopters of software, we still need to change the minds and hearts of those who are lagging in the curve.

Final thoughts

The construction industry is one of the most collaborative, but also one of the most fragmented industries in the world. I recently discussed in a podcast on how preconstruction software like BuildingConnected is helping to fix this. The construction companies positioned for success embrace working smarter and better through software — and view it as an essential investment, not a cost.