Technology and competence - what should we consider?13 Apr 22
Technology can not only help measure competence, but if implemented in a structured way, it can also complement the competence of those using it, Technology Working Group chair Melanie Dawson told delegates at GIRI’s recent online forum. Melanie’s was the first in a series of presentations by group members considering the opportunities and drawbacks of technology as a means of measuring competence in construction.
Any discussion of competence necessarily begins by defining its meaning, said Melanie. “For me, competence is about having a strong core knowledge base in a particular subject or area and being able to exercise sound judgement. It is something that grows with experience, so the more you work in a particular field, the more your competence will grow. You learn more with every project, improving the processes you apply to your projects; and the people you work with will benefit from that.
“Competence sits hand in hand with continuous improvement and this goes back to the idea of repetition,” she continued. “The more with we do something, the better we get at it and that starts to drive excellence. As an industry, that is what we are trying to do, and from a GIRI perspective, not only is excellence really important, but so are the lessons we learn from each iteration.”
Associated with continuous improvement is standardisation, she added. “This is particularly relevant in the field I work in – BIM and digital construction – specifically the standardisation of data and structured data.”
A common view in the industry is that no two construction projects are alike and therefore resist standardisation, but Melanie believes that there is a huge opportunity to standardise information and structure it so that it is not necessary to start from scratch on each new project. “This is where competence comes in – knowing what data to ask for, knowing how to structure it, and how to create that standardisation. Once you can create a standardised system, you can start to link it to the technology that can help with automation, which in turn gives you the analytics and much greater transparency.”
Transparency is important for competence; it offers the ability to report clearly on information and demonstrates that you understand the issue or the challenge and have an answer for it.
But technology does not have all the answers, and skilled people in key roles and disciplines are still required. However we should be challenging these experts to define clear processes, whether those are processes for people to follow or processes that technology can automate.
“We are hearing a lot about skills shortages. I think people are increasingly looking for better paid work, so if we can use our competent people to automate more of the mundane processes, this can free up people to work on more complex tasks. We have the software and hardware to do a lot of heavy lifting in the background, which can only be a win-win, bearing in mind that people want better jobs in a more tech-focused industry.”
However, to achieve this means successfully implementing technology, and this is where it often goes wrong, she warned. It is vital to properly define your processes and what you want the technology to do before you buy any piece of software; Melanie also suggested that companies conduct a thorough audit of their existing technology, map out the functionalities and identify the gaps before buying anything new.
“If you have those clearly defined processes, technology can enable your people to focus on more skilled tasks to help drive forward the changes and improvements within your organisation.”
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Other reports from the webinar