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Procore report finds majority of Canadian construction firms expect backlog to grow or plateau

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The new report is based on a survey of nearly 500 general and specialty contractors in Canada and the U.S. Adobe Stock Images

According to a report from Procore Technologies and the Associated General Contractors of America, 70 percent of Canadian civil and infrastructure construction firms expect their project backlog to increase or remain the same over the next year as new federal infrastructure funding ramps up. The report, Top Civil & Infrastructure Trends: Today's Industry Challenges and Opportunities, found that many firms are worried that labour shortages and productivity challenges could undermine their success with these projects.

"With increased backlogs prompted by once-in-a-generation government investment in the U.S. and Canada, civil and infrastructure organizations are on the cusp of seeing a tremendous growth in projects," said Nolan Frazier, regional sales director of Canada at Procore. "Canadian firms need to implement innovative solutions in order to prepare for these massive undertakings, while also navigating challenges such as the ongoing labour shortage and the cost of materials."

The new report, which is based on a survey of nearly 500 general and specialty contractors in Canada and the U.S., explores how civil and infrastructure organizations are building today, the challenges they face, and the opportunities that lie ahead. The construction association and Procore conducted the survey to measure the potential impacts of hundreds of billions in new federal infrastructure investments on the construction industry.

Canadian civil and infrastructure builders report an average increase of 38 percent in their backlogs – projects they are contracted to complete but have not yet started – since the COVID-19 pandemic. And 70 percent of firms in Canada expect that backlog to grow or remain level during the next twelve months.

However, roughly three in ten of civil and infrastructure projects fail to meet their specified budget, schedule, and quality goals, leaving important opportunities for improvement in project outcomes, according to the survey.

Respondents identified the factors having the greatest impact on the success of projects, including material and labour costs (45 percent); project management (45 percent); and communication within the organization (39 percent). Additionally, factors such as timely responses to requests for information/changes (38 percent) and workflow efficiency (38 percent) rounded out the top five most impactful factors.

Many Canadian civil construction firms report they are investing in software and technology to help overcome some of their key challenges: 51 percent indicate they're implementing solutions that help identify, track, predict and correct quality and safety issues; 50 percent report they are using data and analytics tools to better predict risks; 46 percent report they are using planning and estimating software to ensure greater accuracy in their project pricing; and 45 percent say they are adopting technology solutions that improve financial visibility and cost control on projects.

When adopting new technology for civil and infrastructure projects, one-third of Canadian respondents (33 percent) noted the top barrier or challenge was the lack of integration across solutions.

Firms are also changing the way they get involved in projects to ensure they are successful: 58 percent are involved in some stage of the design and 38 percent of Canadian respondents report they get involved in the capital design or conceptual planning phases of projects.

Survey methodology

The Top Civil & Infrastructure Trends: Today's Industry Challenges and Opportunities surveyed nearly 500 companies (contractors and subcontractors) in the U.S. and Canada with at least 20 employees and at least U.S. $30M in revenue. Individual respondents were personally involved in civil and infrastructure projects for at least 40 percent of their work.

Find the full Procore report here.

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