The Process of Updating the Process

At Miron Construction Co., Inc., we have a strong Virtual Construction department with a wide variety of skillsets. One of our strengths is the ability to quickly digest the latest in technology and software development, identify improvements the update will provide, and apply it to our well-established processes. As Miron has moved into the world of cloud collaboration, and in several instances cloud computing, the way in which we update a process has become easier. Internet speeds allow for faster software updates, the ability to remotely update computer systems on our project sites saves travel time, and our library of reference materials are accessible from anywhere. However, in unforeseen ways, the process for updating a process across the entire company has become harder.

When a technology department is small and centrally located, it is an easy lift to push a new process out to the team. When companies such as Procore or Autodesk release a new product directly improving an existing process that only a few dozen people utilize, it can be as simple as updating the reference material, hosting a training session, and communicating the change to the team.

The real challenges arise when our technology group tries to implement a new process outside of its department. With the accelerated increase of our annual revenue over the past five years and the additional workforce we are bringing on to handle the work, training outside the department is never complete. We are often inadvertently depending on second- and third-hand training in casual environments as new hires are brought on board outside of a training cycle. Training and process development is no longer a destination—it is now a process in and of itself.

Faster alone, farther together…this is one way to approach the problem. However, we need to identify what “together” means and how sustainable it is to train everyone on everything. The current approach is to set a standard and identify a reasonable skillset that one must learn during onboarding to participate in the “together” part of this sentiment. It is unreasonable to assume that every member has equally exceptional and broad skills, but all members should have a base skillset with which they can be successful in their role. For example, a project manager should be able to manage a budget, write a contract, and manage a schedule. Project administrators should be able to process a pay application, update a plan set, and distribute payroll information. A BIM (Building Information Modeling) manager should be able to compile a 3D model, perform clash detection, and share fabrication drawings with their field teams.

When a technological improvement affects one of the base skillsets, that is the trigger for a team to consider making a change to the overall company process and implement training. When thinking about updating the process, however, they should also take the following equation into consideration:

(New Process – Training Effort – Disruption to Old Process) > Old Process

The new process may be better than the old in a head-to-head contest, but the old and new are not fighting a fair fight. If the new process, associated training, and disruption to the old process is not clearly better than the previous process, software fatigue will set in, and adoption of the new process will be stifled. Software fatigue has been at an all-time high recently and this, in part, is due to the lack of awareness of how often the disruption is not worth the end user’s time. If the training effort is too great, the disruption is ill-timed, or the new process is only marginally better, it will cause pushback on the topic at hand. Additionally, it will generate a lack of trust from end users, leading them to believe their innovation group is not capable of deciphering when it is best to drive change in the company.

Outside of the base skillsets at your company, there should be room for technology to run fast, be tested, and help predict future trends. It should help inform what direction technology may take your company and what the standard skillsets should be. However, it is the responsibility of the innovators to remember that technology is a tool, and it is the people who use these tools who drive productivity. The base skillset of the team is what will push the overall success of the company, and it is the “together” that will help implement the new process.

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