Building a Systems Development Team - Best Fit

The checklist below is a good prerequisite indicator of whether an internal Systems Development team could possibly create a competitive advantage for the contractor:

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  1. Do you already have a robust technology network and support infrastructure, including uptime, remote connectivity, mobile device management, security, backups, and basic technology training? If this foundation isn’t in place, a Systems Development team will constantly struggle.
  2. Are you already substantially maximizing your existing off-the-shelf software technology? If you are not currently pushing those limits, there are likely cultural workflow, problem solving, management, or training issues that will also impede anything custom built. Never try to solve a people or process problem with technology.
  3. On a scale of 0-10 how would you rate your company’s ability to implement change and continually improve upon it with each cycle? 

If your answers to the above three questions are solid, then you can ask the next three questions:

  1. What specifically would you have an internal Systems Development team build for you that would substantially streamline a process or provide better information flow, giving you a competitive advantage? Identify the top 10 projects, and if that is easy enough, then move to the next question.
  2. Have you already been successful with custom reporting and dashboards, pulling data out of your existing systems and integrating it together? This is where all Systems Development teams start.
  3. Do you have sufficient financial resources to fund this team through start-up and the necessary scaling to make these projects worthwhile? Assume that each of these projects will take 2X as long to build and the returns will be 50% of what you expect. Does it still make sense?

Often, the answer to the last question is yes. Even if the tools developed have bugs and adoption is slower than expected, there is still a great return. That is the strategic advantage of a Systems Development team.

Too often, it is the answer to that last question that drives the decision to start without focusing on the prerequisite questions that can kill progress.

This is Part 4 of an 18-Part Series

Topics Covered in the Series Include:

  • Developers
  • Industry
  • Outsourcing
  • Workflow
  • Time & Money

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More from Steve Jost
Building a Systems Development Team - Introduction
Construction technology innovation is accelerating and the contractors that learn how to effectively integrate technology into every aspect of their business will dominate tomorrow.
Building a Systems Development Team - Clarification
There a few different teams and team functions in construction technology that are distinct but also have to work together.
Building a Systems Development Team - Industry
The pace of technology in construction has exploded and is only getting faster. The proliferation of mobile technology and widespread availability of fast internet on jobsites are the foundation and enablers of the technology explosion.