The Future of Canada’s Construction Industry is Paved with Technology
Post-Pandemic Recovery after a Long Year
A year like no other, 2021 hit Canada’s construction industry especially hard. This was the case for a number of reasons, including health and safety concerns for field workers, labour shortages, increased costs due to economic conditions surrounding COVID-19, and most importantly, the need to adapt to a sudden change in work environment compounded by many businesses use of outdated, on premise construction management systems.
As a result of the pandemic, the number of active Canadian construction companies dropped by 12.4% between February and May of 2020. Thankfully, a closer look shows that most of these businesses did not close for good, but simply paused operations – figuring out how to move forward in a new normal.
Yet after a bumpy spring of 2020, small and midsize construction firms discovered opportunities for growth in other ways. In the past 12 months, the number of active construction businesses in Canada increased by 15,500, leading among all industries. And despite a drop in commercial projects, there was actually an increase of residential housing project starts by the end of 2020 compared to 2019. Many of these promising Canadian construction statistics show that Canada’s construction industry remained resilient and worked more innovatively than ever before. Enterprises stayed optimistic for pre-COVID accelerated demand and growth – and that’s exactly what we’ve seen as we move toward the end of 2021.
2021 Canadian Construction Industry Survey
Earlier this summer, Constructive Solutions, a division of The Answer Company, conducted a concentrated survey among Canadian construction, real estate development, and engineering firms to dive into what challenges hit these sectors the hardest during the pandemic, and what actions firms have taken and are taking to recover in this digital age.
Download the survey results infographic: Construction Industry Resilience in a Digital Age.
The survey revealed several challenges that are plaguing construction firms, centered around rising costs and staffing shortages. An overwhelming 91% of survey respondents indicated that material costs were one of their biggest challenges, a ripple effect of increased prices in goods-producing sectors, like equipment manufacturing and forestry. The other top concerns all centered around human resources, where primary challenges were worker shortages, subcontractor availability, and rising labour costs. Other recent construction reports have also all pointed to how a lack of skilled workers is caused by a generational drop-off, as older experienced contractors retire en masse.
Aside from human resources challenges, all other construction related issues seemed to be pandemic-induced, temporary, and common amongst every other industry: health and safety concerns and difficulties switching to a work from home model.
Canada’s Construction Industry Outlook is Positive
As illustrated in the Executive Summary of the report, despite the challenges accentuated by COVID, the industry is recovering and developing in a number of ways.
60% of respondents indicated that they expect revenue to match or exceed pre-COVID levels and 54% of respondents expect to increase headcount in 2021 and beyond. There is a backlog of projects due to high demand and constraints on resources, but for firms that spent the pandemic period revisiting their tech stack, new projects will be met with digital tools that will improve productivity and efficiency.
The Growth of Technology in Canada’s Construction Industry
Survey results confirmed that many companies in the construction industry are lacking mobile construction technology. Interestingly, 28% of respondents commented that outdated software and systems don’t meet their current needs; this recognition is a first step to transforming and future-proofing their construction business. Over half of the surveyed companies currently have or plan to create a formal IT plan.
One of the biggest leaps construction firms have made, in response to the challenges of the pandemic, is moving to a cloud-based ERP software. Cloud ERP allows for anytime, anywhere access to data, real-time reporting, real-time collaboration tools, and tight data security. And top performing construction business management software like Acumatica Construction Edition, allows businesses to connect seamlessly with other popular commercial real estate software like Procore Project Management Software and ProEst Estimating Software. When all information is funneled into one intuitive and easy-to-use tech stack, construction teams can be on the same page.
How did the pandemic affect the adoption of cloud technology? As a result of both employees, contractors, partners, and clients moving online, construction firms acted quickly and we saw a 65% increase in mobile ERP technology adoption in Canada’s construction industry between 2019 and 2020. For construction executive boards, the recent quest is to find a suitable and flexible ERP solution to safeguard against the next unforeseen challenges.
How Acumatica Cloud Construction ERP Stands Out
Ultimately, construction business leaders who are able to find an interconnected construction management solution that matches their operational needs will be able to connect field and office, while tackling most employee resistance to adopting construction cloud ERP.
Acumatica Cloud Construction ERP is easily adopted by any small to midsize construction or real estate development firm. Ranked highest in usability, Acumatica is the modern ERP with an unlimited license model, expanded functionalities, and a simple interface that reduces the learning curve. Designed for industries with project-based work, this advanced ERP has collaboration tools to connect remote and field teammates, automations to speed up projects, and accurate flexible reporting to boost data insights.
“The next generation of construction leaders are demanding ‘anywhere, anytime’ access to their information, and Acumatica’s unique unlimited user licensing brings all team members together on a single platform.” — Patrick Baker, President, Constructive Solutions
Future-Proof Your Construction Business
Canada’s construction industry is not only on the road to recovery, but it is also on a road of new technology adoption. Data visibility, automated calculations and processes, and interconnected tech stacks are helping construction firms better manage projects and make smarter decisions to grow their business.