2020: What happened to the digital transformation?

The digital transformation happened alright – just not for everyone.

There are plenty of statistics doing the rounds, noting hours of lost sleep over the impact of Covid-19. Some construction businesses reported a decline in business. Yet plenty of others have reported a rise in project wins.

It’s a confusing picture. It depends on where you are in the UK, material supplies, the health and welfare of your team and the level of optimism in your target market. I hope you yourself haven’t faced too many difficulties.

New phrases were bandied about, “The new normal”, “Business as unusual”, “unprecedented”…

But the phrase we grew fond of was “embracing technology”. And in this instance we don’t mean Zoom, muted microphones and surprise appearances from cats and toddlers.

I’m talking about the heightened interest in the implications of ‘digitising’ design and estimating, and the subsequent rise in BuildingWorks platform subscriptions.

The year smaller construction firms got a head start

2020 was primed to be a pivotal year for ‘digital transformation’ in the construction industry. In January of this year, Marzia Bolpagni, a Digital Strategy Advisor, commented in an article for the Mace Group, entitled ‘Five digital construction trends for 2020’, that:

“As investment in smaller construction technology companies continues to build, I would expect to see moves to establish some clear interoperability standards and applications that break the current silos and enable the ‘golden thread of information’ between programmes. This would open up the digital marketplace and reduce the cost of entry.”

‘Golden thread of information’. We like that. It sums up the integrated Design & Estimate modules for BuildingWorks, the winner of the Best Business Product in the 2018 Housebuilder Magazine awards. I should add we were awarded Best Building & Construction Software Developers 2020 by Corporate Vision Magazine in their recent Technology Innovator Awards, and made it to the finals of the Digital Transformation category in the National Technology Awards 2020.

BuildingWorks: instant costs for drawing plansAnd a number of forward-thinking building firms, property developers, surveyors and architects have also recognised the potential. Whilst many of the larger companies haven’t been able to adopt new processes because of the pandemic restrictions, smaller, more agile construction-related firms have seized the opportunity with both hands.

Perhaps the Covid-19 crisis provided the perfect storm. Less site meetings. More remote working. Fewer supplies. More last minute changes to projects. There was a tipping point. And an increase in software susbcriptions resulted.

What does BuildingWorks provide in ‘unprecedented’ times?

* With the Design and Estimate modules you can respond quickly to any rethink from a prospective client and any changes in prices.

* As the building plan is either being drawn or measured, it calls on a library of over 15,000 data-rich BIM products and nearly 5000 rates. Using this it generates a live cost breakdown of materials, labour, rates and energy performance.

* When the job needs altering you can review the design in real-time, swapping products and rates in and out of the project.

* You can then supply the client with a new quotation and a new full Bill of Quantities (NRM). Give them detailed costings, new build program and full schedule of works itemising everything required to construct the project (materials, labour and plant).

* With BuildingWorks you won’t be duplicating your efforts, keying in all the information at least twice. As every alteration is made, the effect of the change cascades across the entire project.

* Maybe the specification changes will reduce the project’s profit margin. BuildingWorks provides everything you need to evaluate the feasibility and profitability of a project. Is the job still worth your time and effort? Find out instantly.

What next for the digital transformation?

We can’t be sure of all the challenges that will face the construction industry in 2021. But I am sure that if you are keen to improve the working practices of your team, shore up your profits and win the kind of work your business excels at, then you should start your 30-day fully featured trial of BuildingWorks straightaway! The whole team can try it. There’s no obligation just plenty of opportunities.

Go online to set it up or call 0117 916 7880.


Joanna Mulgrew is the Operations Director for the HBXL Group, of which Integro Construction Software is a company.

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