What the Construction Sector Can Learn from Software Development: Top Five Useful Practices

construction workers on site
  • Author: Fazal Umer
  • Posted On: May 30, 2023
  • Updated On: May 30, 2023

The construction industry has always been known for its intricate planning, complex processes, and large-scale projects. However, it is also an industry that faces significant challenges in terms of efficiency, collaboration, and timely project completion.

In recent years, software development practices have revolutionized the way projects are executed, offering valuable lessons that can be applied to the construction sector. In this article, we will explore five useful practices and software development for construction that the industry can implement.

This post is a version of a presentation that Intelvision, an Irish software development company with a development center in Ukraine, held. Given the popularity of that topic, we decided to publish the story here.

But First… What are the Most Common Challenges and Issues in the Construction Sector?

Construction problems are common throughout a project’s life cycle. We’ve highlighted some of the top challenges and problems in the construction industry nowadays.

Cost Overrun

A McKinsey study estimates that 98% of construction projects deal with cost overruns of more than 30%. The result? Companies face lowered profit margins, material shortages, and damage to the company’s reputation.

Projects Delays

The same McKinsey study also states that 77% of construction projects are at least 40% late. Some contributing factors cannot be controlled, such as the weather, the labor shortage, and equipment failures. But some things can be prevented with the help of software, including scheduling issues, project conflicts, and incorrect data.

Slow Technologies Adaptation

One of the trickiest problems in the construction sector in 2023 is its hesitance to adopt new methodologies and technologies that could very well make their workplaces more efficient.

Poor Communication Quality

Since projects require multiple specialists during the various construction stages, effective information exchange is crucial for a construction project’s success. Oftentimes, there is a disconnect between the office and on-site specialists. As a result, the company faces unrealistic expectations and important tasks being overlooked.

Labor Shortage

The Great Recession in 2008 resulted in many skilled workers being laid off or leaving the industry and never returning. The 2019 COVID pandemic only worsened the labor shortage.

The younger generation has not been enough to fill the gap, as according to Associated Builders and Contractors, the number of construction workers aged 25 to 54 declined by 8% over the past decade.

There are several ways to counteract the shortage of workers, such as investing in new technologies and working with educational organizations to offer great onboarding and training programs.

Finally, let’s discuss some of the most significant software development solutions, technologies, and practices that can improve the efficiency of construction processes, as well as increase the overall profit of a company in this sector.

Agile Methodology

Agile emphasizes iterative and incremental development, focusing on delivering tangible results in short cycles. By embracing this approach, construction projects can be divided into smaller tasks, allowing for increased flexibility and adaptability.

What’s more, this methodology facilitates regular communication and collaboration between project stakeholders, ensuring that everyone is aligned and any issues are addressed promptly. Implementing Agile methodology in the construction industry can lead to faster project completion, improved quality, and enhanced client satisfaction.

Continuous Integration and Collaboration

Software development has thrived on the concept of continuous integration, where developers frequently merge their code changes into a shared repository, enabling continuous testing and validation. The construction sector can benefit from continuous integration and collaboration practices.

By leveraging cloud-based platforms and project management software, construction teams can seamlessly share project updates, documents, design changes, and more.

Real-time collaboration eliminates the need for manual coordination, reducing errors, delays, and rework. This practice ensures that all stakeholders have access to the latest project information, fostering a collaborative environment and enabling timely decision-making.

Data-Driven Decision Making

Software development relies heavily on data-driven decision-making. Teams collect and analyze data at various stages of development to identify bottlenecks, measure performance, and optimize processes.

The construction sector can leverage this practice by implementing digital tools and practices that capture and analyze project data in real-time.

By utilizing technologies such as Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Internet of Things (IoT) sensors, construction teams can gather valuable insights on resource allocation, progress tracking, and project performance. Data-driven decision-making enables proactive problem-solving, and cost optimization, and improves overall project outcomes.

Source: Traxxeo

Version Control and Documentation

In software development, version control, and documentation are critical for maintaining code integrity and enabling collaboration.

This practice ensures that all code changes are tracked, allowing developers to revert to previous versions if needed. Similarly, the construction industry can benefit from version control and documentation systems to manage project changes effectively.

Implementing a robust document control system allows construction teams to track revisions, manage approvals, and ensure that all stakeholders have access to the most up-to-date project information. Version control and documentation as a practice itself minimizes errors, mitigates risks, and improves project transparency.

Test-Driven Development

TDD is a software development practice where tech specialists write automated tests before writing the actual code. It ensures that software meets the required specifications and allows for early detection of bugs or other issues.

The construction sector can adopt a similar mindset by implementing the concept of “build, test, and validate” in project execution.

By conducting comprehensive pre-construction tests, simulations, and mock-ups, potential design flaws or construction challenges can be identified and addressed early in the process. Test-driven development reduces rework, enhances project predictability, and improves overall project quality.

The construction industry can benefit from adopting these practices. Agile methodology promotes flexibility and collaboration, while continuous integration and collaboration practices ensure seamless communication and coordination. Last but not least, test-driven development allows for early detection and mitigation of potential challenges. Be the first to implement effective practices to overtake the competition and become a market leader.

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Author: Fazal Umer

Fazal is a dedicated industry expert in the field of civil engineering. As an Editor at ConstructionHow, he leverages his experience as a civil engineer to enrich the readers looking to learn a thing or two in detail in the respective field. Over the years he has provided written verdicts to publications and exhibited a deep-seated value in providing informative pieces on infrastructure, construction, and design.