Construction Technology Bluebeam

How Small Contractors Can Maximize Their Potential by Going Digital

Smaller contractors often operate with the idea that they can’t compete with larger competitors—especially with technology. Here are simple steps they can take to implement efficiency-boosting technology today

The world is awash in technology. From smartphones and their related applications increasingly consuming our attention to more recent innovations like generative artificial intelligence on the verge of upending countless industries, technology is constantly at the forefront of our world.  

The construction business is no different. Even though the industry has a longstanding reputation as a laggard when it comes to technology adoption, in recent years—especially since the COVID-19 pandemic—construction has made tremendous strides in its embrace of digital tools to get more done with less.  

In fact, according to a construction technology report by global real estate services company JLL, the industry managed to jam roughly 36 months of technology adoption into a single year thanks to the pandemic, which spurred a rise in remote work and need for digital communication and collaboration.  

Paper Pervades 

Despite the accelerated progress, too many construction firms still rely heavily on paper to manage essential workflows. This is especially true of smaller contractors, who often don’t have the dedicated information technology (IT) teams and budgets to spearhead new technology implementations, leading them to believe that using today’s cutting-edge digital tools is out of reach.  

As of 2020, the most recent year for which data are available, these small to medium-sized construction firms (SMB), which can range in size from one employee to a few hundred, represent about half a million of construction businesses in the United States alone.  

This means a large portion of the industry may be on the outside looking in when it comes to digital technology adoption, at a time when governments around the world are pushing these tools to make construction more efficient and environmentally sustainable.    

Thankfully, it has never been easier for SMB construction firms around the world to adopt digital tools.  

The Hidden Costs of Paper-Based Workflows  

Using paper for many construction processes and workflows may be familiar, but it’s likely eating into SMB owners’ potential efficiency—and profits—more than you realize:  

  • Printing costs: The ink and hardware required to print large construction documents isn’t getting cheaper, and tabulating these costs on a per-project basis is labor-intensive.  
  • Potential for errors: Miscommunication is more likely with paper, as varying versions of documents physically travel from location to location with multiple collaborators commenting in potentially illegible handwriting. 
  • Lost jobs: In today’s digital world, more general contractors and design firms require project partners to collaborate with digital tools, meaning firms stuck using paper-based workflows might miss out on work.  

Evolving Tech Models Make Adoption Widely Accessible for SMBs  

While the costs—both hidden and tangible—of using paper continue to climb, adopting digital tools has never been more affordable, even for smaller firms without IT teams and big budgets.  

  • Lower upfront costs: The competitive landscape in construction has created an environment where it’s easy for firms to test new software products for free or with minimal financial commitment.  
  • Lower total costs: Once a new digital solution is implemented, the ongoing costs for use continue to decrease, as most construction technology companies have shifted from expensive perpetual licensing models to monthly software-as-a-service (SaaS) subscription offerings. This gives contractors the flexibility to adjust, or even cancel, their plans if needed.  

In all, this greater affordability and accessibility means smaller construction firms can vet, train and integrate new digital tools easily without large financial or lengthy time commitments.   

Download the complete eBook on how small contractors can make the digital transition.