7 Reasons Contractors Need To Innovate

December 12, 2021
7 Reasons Contractors Need To Innovate

What Is Innovation?

Innovation is defined as ‘the process of translating an idea or invention into a good or service that creates value’. For a business it could mean implementing new ideas, improving services or creating dynamic products. It can act as a catalyst that helps your business grow and adapt in the marketplace.

For rail contractors, successful innovation should be part of your business strategy where you create a culture of innovation and make way for creative thinking. It can increase the likelihood of your business succeeding and, can create more efficient processes that result in better productivity, performance and ultimately increases in margins.

How Will Innovation help You Achieve Success?

1 - Stand Out From The Competition

Rail is an increasingly congested and competitive sector. This has only been worsened by the slow start to CP6. Many companies have exactly the same offering, so contractors need to stand out.

The right innovation will allow contractors to offer something unique to clients. 

A more efficient, more reliable or safer method gives clients confidence and helps contractors differentiate themselves and increase their market share. 

For example, using drones and augmented reality to survey projects in place of a traditional walk out approach, removes the risk of teams visiting site and the associated track access costs. 

When businesses think innovatively, it becomes very easy to beat out the competition.

Innovation, however, is not an instant fix or a one-time deal. It must be a continuous process and investment to provide a steady stream improvements to your business.

2 - Grow Faster Than Ever

66% of respondents in The Deloitte Innovation Survey 2015 stated that innovation is important for growth. Businesses that innovate are able to scale up and add more employees. That allows them to take on more customers and grab a bigger share of the market.

Innovation makes it easier to grow, regardless of the size of the contractor. It might be a huge Tier 1 corporation, but it can take even more of the market share if it manages to innovate.

Innovation provides an elastic method of scaling a business. For example, reducing the heavy administrative burden by using innovative communication tools such as Slack or MS teams, to allow even larger teams to communicate and share files in real time, without the traditional fixed IT cost. Digitising and automating traditional processes allows team to reduce fixed overhead costs and instead focus resources on growth enabling activities.

3 - Meet Client Needs

Client needs are constantly changing. One day, a client might need exactly what you have to offer, but the next day they might need something else. Innovators predict changes in the market and provide solutions before people even realise they need them.

Contractors cannot meet client needs on a long-term basis unless they are willing to innovate. If you remain stagnant, the business will eventually fall behind.

You need to come up with new ideas that excite clients and meet their needs if you want to have staying power.

4 - Attract The Best Team

Talented, innovative people want to work for innovative companies. 

Rail contractors are not going to attract someone who is going to create the next big thing unless that company has a history of creating. Innovators want to be challenged and encouraged to create on a regular basis, so you need a culture of innovation to recruit that talent. 

Organisations that innovate make a name for themselves and become the company to work for.  Innovators from all over will want to work with the business to get their ideas to market.

The company will become even more innovative. It will experience more growth, stand out from the competition even more, and meet clients' needs on a long-term, scalable basis.

5 - Solve Complex Challenges

An innovative organisation changes how it perceives and solves challenges. It becomes constantly creative. It has an ingrained culture of passionately solving complex problems so as to improve the quality of projects they manage and deliver. 

Being innovative means organisations frame situations in different way, dealing with unprecedented events and external crises by viewing them instead as an opportunity to provide creative new solutions that clients love.

6 - Become More Agile

Every contractor goes through a rough patch at some point. However, what really sets a business apart is how they make effective, strategic moves that help discover new and unexplored markets.

Recently, many new businesses are shifting towards using certain strategies that incorporate lean as well as agile methodologies as a way of innovating. ‘Agile’ is a project management approach that involves breaking a project down into smaller iterations and bringing the full project team together to critique each section. The insight gained from each section analysis is used to inform the next phase, so project scopes and strategies are more responsive and flexible.

This approach streamlines projects, helps monitor the entire process more effectively and keeps teams well collaborated. An agile company has reduced risks, better project control and a higher quality of end product or service.

7 - Increase Productivity

If you ever feel that you are bogged down with work and struggle to get everything done, you need to find new ways to increase productivity. To do this, start looking for a new process.

In order to work smarter, think creatively. Focus on the things you should streamline and the things you need to cut out. Also, focus on the programs and workflows that you can use to increase productivity.

For example, you can use a homegrown project tracker system to assign, monitor and prioritize tasks. You may use other methods to do this, but building one to meet your specific demands is recommended. As your needs change you can update the software to remain productive.

Always test new ideas. You will be surprised by the combination of ideas that work together to make productivity plans that work for your company.

It's normal to want to maintain the status quo. You assume that since it's worked for you in the past, it will work for you in the future. In reality, the status quo only works for so long. If you're going to keep your doors open, you have to innovate. You need to take the risks that come with innovation so you can enjoy all of the rewards.


Innovation is a crucial factor for the success and growth of rail contractors. By cultivating a culture of innovation, businesses can stand out from competitors, meet evolving client needs, attract top talent, and increase productivity. Innovation is not a one-time deal, but a continuous investment that provides a steady stream of improvements to a business.

By adopting innovative approaches such as agile methodologies, digitizing traditional processes, and using innovative communication tools, rail contractors can overcome challenges, scale up, and achieve long-term success.

Will Doyle

CEO

I am an experienced RICS chartered Quantity Surveyor​ with first-hand experience of how the consistent capture and analysis of data can transform global project delivery.

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