Digital transformation has to be adopted as part of “business as usual” rather than a bolt-on to existing projects, according to Skanska UK.
Dale Turner, director of procurement and supply chain at Skanska UK, said digital transformation provided industries such as construction with the opportunity to improve productivity and efficiency.
Speaking at the CIPS Business Briefing on digitally transforming supply in Manchester, he said: “Ultimately for us, the overall strategy for digitilisation is around productivity. How can we do more for less? How can we deliver our projects quicker and deliver greater satisfaction to clients?”
It was vital that before the firm embarked on its transformation journey there was support from across the business from stakeholders, right down to the working group level. Without this buy-in, Turner said transformation would not be possible.
“It's about connectivity, it's about making people in your organisation digitally enabled and being able to access everything at anytime. It's about thinking digitally when you make your processes, making it really part of business as usual. This isn't really bolting something to the side of your existing stuff. This is a fundamental change,” he said.
The firm is currently working on the early stages of its digital transformation journey which focuses on “building a foundation”, involving everything from getting the right data to ensuring the correct infrastructure is there to support change.
He added: “We've done a lot of work on making sure there is a single source of true data so that we can make informed decisions. If it's unreliable, you may well make poor decisions.”
While the firm aims to have the first phase of its journey completed by 2020, Turner believes the benefits of transformation will start to be realised by 2025, adding that businesses must be aware that these benefits do not happen immediately.
However, visualisation is an area where Skanska UK’s digital transformation is already improving the customer experience.
“It is a key thing for us in terms of being able to show our clients what a project is going to look like when it's built, what's going to happen during the build and what the disruption is going to be way before we actually start the project itself. It's taken us a number of years to get this built into the project execution plan but we’ve now managed to make it the standard,” Turner said.
Digitalisation also provides benefits for the wider communities who may otherwise experience disruption caused by large construction works, as well for Skanska UK’s customers.
“If we are more productive and more efficient in the way we deliver our projects, it's less disruption to the local communities in which we work,” said Turner.
“The A14 is a big project from the M1/M6 junction all the way down to Cambridge at the moment. If we can do that more offsite in a digital environment, and lessen the time that we need on site, then it will be less disruption.”
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