November 15, 2021
Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act Will Flood Construction Industry with Opportunity
From deteriorating roadways, levees, and dams to outdated operations and maintenance of essential systems for transmission and distribution of resources; it’s no secret that America’s infrastructure has been in dire need of a tune up over the years. To shore up the country’s aging infrastructure, Congress passed H.R. 3684, also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) on Nov. 5, 2021. This piece of legislation, once signed into law by the president, will infuse $550 billion in new federal investments over the next five years. According to a summary of the legislation, transportation will receive the largest share of investment, followed by broadband, power, and water.
This is great news for the country, which was recently given a “C-,” up from a “D+,” by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in the association’s 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, but the anticipated improvements won’t happen overnight. Analysis published by The Brookings Institution accurately surmised, “the pace at which federal funds reach different places nationally depends on the types of projects pursued and the types of programs channeling resources to these projects. As we learned during the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act a decade ago, ‘state of good repair’ projects, such as resurfacing or improving roads, happen faster than more sophisticated capital projects, such as new system expansions.”
So, what then?
The Time For Reflection & Preparation Is Now
While new projects won’t begin immediately, construction spending in the United States is about to see substantial year-over-year increases as the IIJA goes into effect. Which means this period could likely be considered “the calm before the storm.” Companies that will emerge as leaders in the years to come will be those that took advantage of the “calm” to batten down the hatches in their own businesses. For example, according to The White House and Moody’s Analytics, the IIJA, when combined with the Biden Administration’s Build Back Framework, will add on average 1.5 million jobs annually over the next 10 years. This type of influx in the job market could result in some substantial challenges, some of which are discussed below.
Invest In Security
The heavy influx of workers is an overall positive challenge to have – as long as you have the security infrastructure in place to easily manage real-time employee turnover on any given project. Companies are already in fierce competition for top talent and, with the need to find workers to support such an influx in infrastructure, the competition is only going to get worse. Albeit to say, your company will almost certainly see its fair share of employees coming and going; and you need to be certain that the employees walking out the door aren’t taking valuable information pertaining to your project or organization with them.
If you don’t currently have a plan in place to safeguard your projects from employee turnover at the touch of a button, serious consideration should be given to preparing for this type of situation. Look for a solution that allows you to assign governance universally across multiple programs with the flip of a switch. Not only will this type of solution ensure the security and integrity of your projects and organization as a whole, but you’ll also avoid spending countless hours digging through various program permissions and changing administrative rights one-by-one.
Invest In Technology
While the digital transformation movement in construction is still in its infancy, it has already ushered in monumental disruption at a rapid pace. Technology will continue to fuel advancements in the fields of architecture, engineering, and construction, and owners must continue to embrace these innovations to improve efficiency, control costs, and remain competitive in an increasingly agile marketplace. Furthermore, your investment in technology must be viewed as an investment in transparency and trust. With government dollars on the line, companies at the center of IIJA projects will be held to a higher standard of accountability. Investment in technology is no longer a “nice to have,” it’s essential – evidenced by the monumental strides already made in the areas of efficiency, safety, and profitability.
Moving forward, your tech spend must reinforce your existing efforts while ensuring that any data collected on a project can be used to drive even greater results. Therefore, any additional investments in technology must promote the collection of data across multiple sources. Not only will such investments promote transparency among all stakeholders, but these types of strategic tech investments also drive economically responsible decision-making as well.
Invest In Your Own Infrastructure
Just as the government is investing in new roads and bridges to connect our communities, it’s time for the AEC/O to invest in technology that connects the platforms used throughout our industry. The multiple platforms used on each project, by their very nature, create data silos that ultimately result in the breakdown of trust in the information collected. To improve confidence in the project information, construction companies must invest in the infrastructure needed to drive confidence in the information they use daily – an Integrated Data Environment (IDE).
Professionals in the AEC/O space depend on different software to meet different demands, which means a truly effective data environment must be one that facilitates cross-platform synchronization. An IDE is a secure roadway built on automated governance and purposefully designed to give you the confidence and peace of mind necessary to make decisions that ultimately allow your business to succeed.
Change Is Coming, Are You Ready?
Now that the IIJA is a reality, infrastructure owners will start preparing requests for designers and contractors to respond to the flurry of work required to deliver on the promises of better roads, bridges, etc. Take this time – the calm before the storm – to be ready for those projects. Invest in security, technology and your own infrastructure today to avoid being left behind when the time comes to roll up your sleeves and get to work.
Is your organization ready to take on the work created from the infrastructure bill? Email us to speak to a ProjectReady professional about project information management and the integrated data environment.
By Kelly Doyle, COO, ProjectReady
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