Considerations in the Field

There are multiple issues affecting the success of technology initiatives on projects. Technology stakeholder responsibilities, the rapid rate of change in technology, technology lifecycles, economic timing, holding periods, labor markets, intuitive design assistance, and evaluation and collaboration between trades are affecting project outcomes and bottom lines. Failing to understand these key considerations can, and is, negatively affecting project outcomes worldwide. We can help.

Technology Stakeholder Responsibilities

Consumers have high expectations of how technology is supposed to work in public and private settings; however, technology is often an afterthought during the construction process. One key breakdown is that every party assumes someone else will be handling the technology associated with the project. In today’s contracts the general contractor is frequently not accountable for the technology portion of the building and the owner bears the responsibility. Oftentimes regarding technology, at the end of the project everyone is pointing fingers as to why it doesn’t work to the expectations of the end-users. Careful planning at the beginning of the project can prevent change orders and extra costs at the end of the project.

Rapid Technology Changes

In the business world, technology is constantly changing and in order to provide a safe and quality user experience, organizations struggle to determine which technology investments will provide the best outcomes. Although relationships in the construction industry are often one of the key factors to success, even if a company successfully handled the technology portion of a build four years ago, it does not mean that same company is capable to provide a quality solution in today’s market; this is because the model breaks down due to the rate of change. In fact, four to five-year-old experience is completely outdated. Ferho is at the forefront of technology due to the nature of our sister consulting company. The Ferho team understands the rapidly changing quality of the technology industry and is fully capable to align up-to-date technology with business objectives.

Oftentimes organizations experience doubt that careful and thorough planning will provide the best return on investment. Seeking advice from subject matter experts that have current applicable experience solving today’s business challenges is necessary. Clear organizational lines of communications are vital. In today’s digitally connected culture listening and disseminating correct information is more important than ever.

Technology Lifecycles

User behavioral changes are a constant moving target. This shifting goal affects how technology is envisioned, designed and integrated in building application. The conflict arises from this thought process: how do stakeholders properly design systems that provide functionality and offer flexibility for growth, without breaking the bank? Decision makers must invest in the proper systems and understand the lifespan of technology initiatives on average is three to five years, whereas most building initiatives are long term. Stakeholders must be flexible in estimating and managing future expectations and upcoming technologies; today’s business environment leaves zero room for complacency. The uniqueness of these challenges is intensified by the rapid change in user behavior, specifically personal devices in business settings. Administration is compelled to navigate a balancing act between access to social media marketing and safely securing these environments.

Economic Timing

The economy is strong, outside investment is high and many investors have a sense of urgency to deliver positive returns. There simply isn’t enough time to wait for an industry to adjust; clients and consumers are driving these changes and expect quality services and outcomes to how their consumer devices perform in any environment. Many leaders prefer to outsource these initiatives as the complexities and economic risks increase; however, they are unsure where to place their trust. Technology firms either provide engineering and equipment (parts and smarts) or managed service contracts (where every initiative fits into the same model). Ferho’s clients appreciate its project approach; just as Ferho is fulfilling those services internally using consulting, design and service methodologies, Ferho can provide the much-needed project support for which the industry is desperately calling. The intentions at Ferho are to always put the clients’ goals first.

Holding Period

There once was a time when building initiatives were often kept in the hands of the original owner for a number of years. Today, more and more projects are being built and then sold to an operational group that will run the business. As a result, the desires of the initial stakeholders are drastically different from those of the new ownership. Long-term investments have different requirements than the short-term investment. Mismatched objectives can hurt resale values because operators are discounted based on additional investment and the money and time that must be sunk into systems needed to make the business run properly. All of this can be avoided with proper planning.

Labor Markets

The construction industry is facing a multifaceted employment challenge. The economic issues after the recession, limited the pool of skilled labor resources. With less projects available, younger trades candidates enrolled in college instead of replenishing apprenticeships and entry level positions. Construction management degree graduates are technically savvy and will help push technology initiatives; however, lack on the job experience and relationships. This lack of intellectual resource availability, requires companies to outsource the intellectual capital needed to secure positive profits; there isn’t enough qualified people available to hire internally. Ferho is capable of handling these issues with regards to technology and will provide the eyes and ears necessary for the successful outcome everyone is looking for at the end of a build.

Intuitive Design Assistance and Evaluation

Project risk in builds today correlates to the lack of comprehensive design considerations with all the technology trades and the business objectives. Where mechanical, electrical and plumbing engineering (MEP) installations are addressed together in construction based on the high degree of interaction between the trades (in order to avoid conflicts in equipment rooms and pathways which is a common problem when systems are designed in isolation), technology related trades are not. Unlike these other disciplines, technology is changing at a rate that is difficult for regulatory bodies to address; many governmental organizations are extremely slow technology adopters. While MEP designs are inherently static, predicated on size and scope of the facility, technology designs are based primarily on business function and the resultant outcomes serving clientele. Historically, technology was managed as an independent vertical, but now integrates in almost every aspect of a build. Ferho can holistically look at the entire project to make certain the mission of the stakeholders aligns with the end product. While the wrong light switch installed in a hotel will not change business outcomes, a wrong technology design choice could be the breaking point in the function of the business. Traditional construction managers experience the challenge of dealing with the ever-changing technology industry. The limitations in these roles are critical foundational decisions that can adversely affect projects and the operational challenges that ensue.

Collaboration Between Trades

Another major challenge facing the construction industry today is the lack of communication and teamwork between technology trades. Each project has a varied mix of technical professionals from different companies which may include: IT and network firms, service providers, phone switching, POS, Wi-Fi, cable TV, surveillance, access control, energy systems, building automation, structured cabling, audio visual, sound and electricians. In most cases, the critical importance of ensuring this varied group works together as a cohesive team is challenging to traditional construction managers. Thus, their dependence on each other to achieve project success by completing work on schedule and under budget is missing the vital component of teamwork. Construction managers are ill-prepared and often unknowing of which technology firms are showing up and at what time in the build. Lack of information and schedule placeholders cause stakeholders to be unprepared for each firm’s onsite needs. Failure to provide clear preparedness and absence of collaboration result in a lack of productivity. In order to improve productivity in the construction industry, skilled tradespersons need the support necessary to complete the non-value added duties, but allows them to focus the majority of their time on value-added tasks that the customer pays them to do. Ferho services focus on making certain that skilled tradespeople are performing their value-added duties by providing those much needed support services, ultimately dramatically improving productivity. While improving productivity is always critical, overall construction productivity will not improve until construction industry leadership recognizes the importance of ensuring all the trades understand their dependence on each other and work together as a cohesive team.