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By Missy England
September 26, 2016
While I write this article, file cabinets in a jobsite trailer are being filled to capacity, a superintendent is misplacing a thumb drive with the latest drawing set, and a subcontractor is days behind schedule because he’s still trying to get sign-off on a key submittal. And that’s just on a single project. All of these problems have a common base cause: using outdated technology to run a construction project.
Whether the approach is using email with Excel files as attachments for communications, or attempting to run in-house file servers in the name of “securing our data,” the result is the same: an outdated technology used for project communications and collaboration wreaks havoc on the bottom line of too many construction businesses.
Here are the three aspects of construction project management that are getting hit the hardest by the use of older technologies:
Client-server applications designed in the 1990’s and run on in-house servers provide limited accessibility to project data. User licenses and VPN access requirements drastically inhibit communications and collaboration as team members wait to retrieve newly updated information before continuing their work. Project staff are required to suffer through slow VPN connections and remote desktop applications, and are routinely forced to hunt through emails with outdated attachments.
With thousands of emails and multiple revisions going back and forth, the volume of communication can be endless – this makes keeping updates to contracts, insurance documents, project plans, RFIs and change orders impossible. With no streamlined system in place, there will undoubtedly be details (and dollars) lost.
Keeping projects on schedule is imperative to profitability, and avoiding delays requires every party to deliver their work on time. Without the ability to monitor deadlines and anticipate delays in permitting, inspection, or obtaining equipment, valuable time and resources are lost.
The solution to overcoming these challenges is cloud-based construction software. Cloud-based solutions can be implemented quickly, without requiring complicated or expensive maintenance or updates. Software automates communications processes and workflows automatically, creating a central hub for real-time project information. The files that the project team needs to get their jobs done are no longer on a single in-house server or on a lost thumb drive. Instead, this data is stored securely in the cloud—ready to be used and shared by all team members.
Perhaps the biggest advantage of cloud-based construction software is the ability to access project data on smartphones or tablets from the field. When project team members have the capacity to archive and track emails, contracts, drawings, daily logs, RFIs, submittals, and punch list items from their smartphones, they also have the ability to answer any project related question instantaneously. The ability to diagnose problems in real-time and resolve them quickly increases project team collaboration, escalating efficiency and drastically increasing project margins.
Accurate, up-to-date project information, securely delivered to all project team members on any Internet-connected device – that’s the promise, and the reality, of today’s cloud-based construction software. Soon enough, the days of working with paper logs and outdated in-house servers will be only remembered as an unloved remnant of the past.
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