Handling the myriad of choices in technology today can be quite the task for any company. Between the process of assessing current technology vendors and systems and evaluating new technologies coming to market, technology directors today have quite the task on their hands.

As Director of Information Technology at Robins & Morton, www.robinsmorton.com, Birmingham, Ala., Carol Copeland says she needs to constantly be cognizant of the way in which the company is working with software providers. As technology continues to play a more important role everyday in construction, it is imperative that such relationships are evaluated on a consistent basis.

Copeland says the contractor/vendor relationship is always critical, even when undertaking a new version or upgrade of a system the company is currently running. “Things rarely go smooth (with an upgrade) and we have had packages in the past where we did not receive (proper) support … it is one of the main reasons we are not working with them today.”

Thankfully, Copeland says, the systems she went through this with were not mission critical to the operation. However, this is still considered an essential exercise and one that needs to be managed. She adds, “When you are not getting the support you need and no one is stepping up to the plate, you can see the writing on the wall.”

Another critical factor to consider is the workforce. Today, this dynamic is constantly changing and workers are coming up through the ranks smarter and faster than ever before. For the most part, these workers expect to enter into an environment where they have access to the latest technologies right from the get-go. Couple this trend with more advanced technology applications hitting the market, and it creates quite a challenge for construction companies today.

One piece of advice from contractors experiencing this is to ensure you investigate the technology you are using and/or evaluating thoroughly and understand capabilities of the people to which you will be pushing the out technology. The biggest key is to know your user base and to have a thorough understanding of how technologically adept they are, and how many people overall will be benefitting from the technology.

Right from the onset, this can provide a good assessment as to whether or not it will be adopted. A good rule of thumb that some apply to this exercise is to create a pilot project to see how well a certain piece of technology will be adopted.

Managing technology is never an easy process. But the good news is that with the right strategy and point of view, today’s IT managers and CIOs (chief information officers) are in position to make more-informed decisions than ever before.