Will COVID-19 Alter The Way Contractors Operate?

From supply chains to the global economy, the COVID-19 crisis has impacted businesses of all shapes and sizes. The question we’re still monitoring though is how will the coronavirus pandemic affect the construction industry?

Yes, the spread of the virus will alter the way contractors operate

Not only are contractors figuring out how to supply job sites with enough hand sanitizer and face masks – as well as incorporating good social distancing practices – contractors are also dealing with technology gaps. As I survey the landscape of technology usage in construction across the United States, I see a wide variation in modern tech adoption and a lot of antiques. Not to mention, there is still a serious lack of on-going recurrent education on existing systems.

In a situation like the COVID-19 pandemic, having modern tech and well-trained staff makes transitioning to a work from home scenario completely seamless. However, not every day is like the last several weeks, and I agree. After all, working remotely is not the only consideration. With this in mind, why alter operations and technologies for this temporary event? Because you’ll need to in order to remain competitive as we emerge COVID. At the end of the day, we all think differently about what we have been doing and how we’ve been doing it.

Automated, connected contractors will be less impacted by COVID-19

Why? Because they’ve automated more than just the basics. They have implemented software that touches every part of their business operations – from business development to project close-out and everything in between. Often those systems are from tech companies offering native-cloud applications. When your company is operating in a true-cloud environment, normal daily operations continue without interruption. There are two reasons for this:

  1. The tech they utilize is not dependent on local servers or workstations
  2. Their staff is already fully trained and will perform their duties just like they do every day of the week

If you are a small business owner or contractor, you may be thinking, how do I automate more than just the basics – or anything at all? I would say you’re in the perfect position to do just that. Take a step back from your business and look at modern solutions. Any tech worth its weight should be able to move your business forward, automate more, and become more efficient. In fact, the majority of our customers in the small business sector tend to outperform larger contractors in the tech department. My thoughts on this subject are still valid from my article last year on why small contractors should act big.

Let’s talk Cornavirus vs. normal for a minute

In some areas of our society, there has been a casual approach to the Coronavirus outbreak –just look at the World Health Organization data or this section of the New York Times. That approach has allowed the virus to form an exponential growth trajectory, and frankly, it will prolong the time we’re in this. Some of the most optimistic projections are that we will see improvement by the end of April. I’m not nearly that confident.

What we have to consider is that even in the best of circumstances, no matter how many of us stay home, the effects will be felt for some time. When it comes to the question of will COVID-19 alter how contractors do business, the answer is very succinctly, yes –and it is likely to continue for some time. The secondary question of whether or not we should operate in normal times as would be operating during the COVID-19 outbreak is again a resounding yes.

Emerging a winner

While on one hand, it’s gratifying that the software has worked reliably for that long, on the other hand, it represents massive amounts of lost opportunity. You are not likely to neglect the periodic maintenance of your equipment nor, in our safety-aware world, fail to train field employees continually. In the same vein, it isn’t likely you rely on 20 to 30 year-old equipment for operations critical to your success.

But when it comes to accounting software, arguably highly critical to any company’s operations, the set-it-and-forget-it approach happens more often than not. Far too often, we often fall prey to the old adage: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Yet, unfortunately, when it comes to technology, that can be an expensive approach in terms of lost opportunity, productivity, and insight.

Companies that have a digital strategy and have been executing it are in a better position to come out of this and be ready for the opportunities that will present themselves. Have you missed out? No. Now’s the time to take stock.

How long has it been since a meaningful system review has been completed? That is a low-cost start and can result in meaningful improvements in the short term. Are you educated on the new generation of true-cloud ERP systems? No?

Even if right now is not the time to make investments, now is the time to become educated and make a plan. Not prepared for a work-at-home scenario? That can be handled in a matter of hours.

Conclusion

While you can’t change the past, there is still time and solid reasons to take action today and plan to come out of the COVID crisis prepared. We’re constantly updating our resources online, and have experienced staff that can advise you on the best path forward with the mission of helping you survive and come out of this event in a great position. Just like we shouldn’t take a set-it-and-forget-it approach to public health, why should you take one with the solutions that are critical to your company’s success?

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