If you’re wondering what the construction industry has to do with technology in general and the cloud in particular, let’s step back into the 1990s for a few moments.
In 1989, the first Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software with 3D modeling was introduced on Silicon graphics workstation by a company called T-Flex. By 1993, another company called CAS Berlin had developed an interactive modeler for PCs called NoRBS, and these developments laid the foundation for the widespread use of CAD in the construction industry. In many ways, CAD was this industry’s first tryst with modern technology, and undoubtedly, it brought in much optimism.
Since then, there’s been no look back for the construction industry, and today, technology is a large and vital aspect of the construction process, as much of the operations require extensive exchange of data among employees on a regular basis. In addition, many vital operations such as budgeting, task control, staffing, and managing progress are all technology-driven. Given this scenario, it’s no-brainer for the construction industry to utilize the latest technologies, as they can add a digital touch to a traditional industry.
Now this might bring up another question: why cloud, and why not the hundreds of other technologies available today? The simple answer is that the cloud is the future, as it is all-encompassing, and it offers a ton of benefits for users.
Here’s a look at how cloud can transform your construction company’s business.
One of the biggest benefits for construction companies is the money you get to save when you move to the cloud. According to an infographic by Sefaira, 82 percent of construction companies that moved to the cloud have saved money in their operations. How? Since technology is a vital part of the construction industry, you need systems for handling and storing data, as well as knowledgeable IT professionals to manage the same. This infrastructure and maintenance can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.
When you switch to the cloud, you don’t have to worry about installing and maintaining hardware and software, as that’s taken care of by the cloud provider. It also means you don’t have to spend any money on employees’ salaries or worry about making capital investments. As a result, the cost of using these systems for storage and processing is only a fraction of what it costs to own and maintain systems. As a bonus, you don’t have to worry about updating security, installing patches, and other routine IT admin tasks.
Builds better relations with clients
The cloud and its related technologies like big data not just store data, but help you make sense of what you store. In other words, it gives you insights and patterns about your clients’ behavior, preferences, and more. Armed with this data, you can devise different strategies to build close relationship with different clients.
Customization is probably the cornerstone of client relationships. Gone are the days of a “one-size-fits-all” approach. Today, everyone wants something unique every single time, and this is best achieved through the cloud, as it allows you to custom-build storage and applications that’ll meet the unique requirements of every client and project. From a management standpoint too, handling these systems is a breeze, as service providers handle most of the routine tasks for you. Furthermore, you don’t have to worry about these technological intricacies, thereby giving you more time to focus on your core business.
As you know, there is no single office for the construction industry, rather, every site is an office by itself. With such a setup, employees tend to use different devices to access different applications within your company. For example, workers may access the time-sheet application through their mobile devices, while site engineers may prefer to use laptops or tablets to update the site’s progress. All this means, you need applications on the go, and this is best done through cloud, as it allows you to store all your data and applications on a virtual space that can be accessed from any device and location.
Collaboration and communication
The word “team” takes on a whole new meaning in the construction industry, as it includes general contractors, suppliers, engineers, architects, subcontractors, project managers, and more. All these different groups of people should constantly communicate and collaborate with each other to ensure faster delivery, and better utilization of resources. Again, this collaboration happens better through cloud systems as it provides continuous connection with all team members, thereby helping them to communicate and collaborate faster.
The number of building projects at any given time tends to vary. This means you should be able to scale up or down the number of users or the types of apps needed at any particular time. Again, this scalability is better with cloud, as managers don’t have to worry too much about capacity planning and infrastructure investments.
Now that you have an idea of what you get by moving to the cloud, let’s now see a few case studies of construction companies that have benefited greatly with this shift.
True Values Homes (TVH)
TVH is a construction company that was started in 1997 with headquarters in Chennai, India. Over the last 18 years, this company has built more than 7.1 million square feet of commercial and residential space, and it became a member of the US Green Building Council in 2007.
This company transitioned to the cloud recently, and since then, has seen enormous benefits. Prior to its migration, employees could update project status and fill time-sheet only at the corporate office. As a result, a lot of paperwork was needed for the processing and approval processes, that in turn, amounted to a ton of time and resources, and eventually, this slowed down the company drastically. To overcome this problem, TVH moved to the cloud, and today, more than 500 employees access its web-based applications daily. According to Arun Nehru, Director, employees are a happy bunch now because they no longer have to commute to the corporate office to complete a paperwork. Instead, they can complete their administrative tasks from their home, work site, or just about anywhere they like. Moreover, the amount of paperwork has greatly reduced, thereby helping the company to use its resources better.
The Regional Transportation Department (RTD) of Denver is going through one of the largest voter-approved transit system modernization in the US. This expansion includes 122 miles of new rail service, modernization of the Denver Union Station, building of 21,000 new parking spaces, addition of 57 new stations and 31 new Park-n-Rides, all of which are estimated to cost a whopping $7.4 billion. The project teams are spread across eight counties, and dozens of projects are happening simultaneously, thereby making collaboration a vital aspect for quick completion.
To meet this daunting challenge, RTD turned to the cloud to help store and manage all project data in a neutral and secure location. Also, the customized built-in workflow processes on the cloud platform automate many routine tasks such as review and approval, which in turn, greatly helps RTD to save on time and resources.
Chambers Construction is one of the early adopters of the cloud, as they have been using a cloud-based invoicing platform from Textura, since 2006. This platform comes with many convenient features such as electronic invoicing, automatic notices, ACH payments, and options to review and approve invoices online. According to Deborah Creager, the Controller of Chambers Construction, Textura has helped to move their payments by 10 days, reduced costs, saved on labor costs, and has accelerated the change order process. In addition, the integration of Textura with their ERP system has resulted in a lot less data entry than before.
The above case studies further strengthen the argument for construction industry to partner with cloud providers, so they can reap the rich benefits that come from this technology.
In short, the cloud is becoming an indispensable tool for everyday living, so it’s no surprise that every sector is embracing it in a big way. The construction industry, though traditional in its approach, has historically been one of the early adopters of technology. A look back into the 1990s shows how technology-based modeling and CAD systems boosted this industry in a big way. Given these facts, it makes sense for the construction industry to move to the cloud at the earliest, as there are many benefits that come with cloud adoption such as reduced savings, better collaboration and communication, greater flexibility, scalability, and more. Already, many companies have moved to the cloud, and the benefits are evident in their operations and bottom-line revenue.
Are you ready to move to the cloud?
2 thoughts on “Should the construction industry partner with cloud companies?”
This article is a great introduction how beneficial the cloud can be to those in construction or trades. In my experience, making the leap to running your business entirely in the cloud can be really intimidating. You’ll probably find that many of the things you need to run your business are offered as cloud based solutions. For those that want to dip their toes before they jump in, it’s helpful to pinpoint one area of the business that can be run in the cloud.
Here’s an example: Choosing a cloud based accounting solution will allow you to invoice your clients, track time and record expenses from anywhere. (Full disclosure, I work at FreshBooks). After you make the move to cloud accounting, it’s easy to integrate other areas of your business to the cloud through add-on partners. Things like mileage tracking, accepting payments online, creating proposals and accepting electronic signatures can all be done through cloud solutions. Taking this approach allows you to slowly move your business into an integrated cloud solution.
Thanks for this wonderful insight Mudita. Much appreciated.