The construction cloud solution is the foundation of the construction industry’s digital revolution. Some of the most powerful software solutions rely on the cloud, which enables the industry to take advantage of the latest tech. A 2017 survey performed by Associated General Contractors of America showed that 85% of contractors had already implemented or were planning on implementing construction cloud solutions. I can accurately guess that number has risen since then. Why? The main reason is improved communication and greater efficiency on the job site. And, then there is also the fact that many construction companies are confronting aging hardware and must decide between investing heavily in upgrades or taking the often less costly route of transitioning to cloud-hosted systems.
We’ve already mentioned improved communication and greater efficiency, but how does a construction cloud solution provide that?
A construction cloud solution allows for the sharing of drawings and documents. This is vitally important to a job site because outdated documents cause costly mistakes. If the architect makes changes to a document or drawing, that information is sent to the cloud and then everyone who is on that server has access to all the changes, providing everyone with the same construction documents, reducing risk and exposure.
Being able to share these documents from anywhere in the world leads to greater efficiency. There is now no wait time for the correct plans to be seen, which leads to less down time and no hand to hand delivery to account for. Being able to access real-time data from any location by using any number of devices not only promotes greater efficiency in the field, it also allows for tighter integrations with other software your contractors might be using.
When a job site is connected to the corporate office and all other shareholders in a multimillion-dollar construction project, everyone will always be on the same page as to the progress taking place. A construction cloud solution can connect the job site so anyone, anywhere in the world can see the progress in real time. This means the project managers can track job site activity while also sending work-in-progress information and other reporting details directly into their on-site systems, where it’s automatically distributed to the relevant departments.
The file sizes on a construction project can easily be over 10 GB, and if you are capturing images from the air and storing them, the storage you need increases exponentially. With a construction cloud solution, you can have as much or as little storage space as you need, but you will never run out of space for all your important documents.
On the analytics side, the cloud makes it easier and cheaper for contractors to take the vast stores of data company-wide and convert it into actionable insights using tools like KPIs and dashboards, which are becoming more accessible from mobile devices, ensuring that data is always readily available to everyone who needs it, whether in the office or the field. Add to that the advantage of Edge Computing, which creates a locally based mini-cloud that can analyze data in real time directly from the source, rather than processing it in the cloud itself or using far-away data centers. This frees up bandwidth, speeds up applications, removes risks, keeps everyone on the same page, and cuts down on the time needed for data processing and analytics.
When you are working on a job site, it’s important that everyone involved, from the Project Manager to the Subcontractors all feel like they are stakeholders in the project. Cloud projects create a sense of a team among everyone involved. A construction cloud solution enables everyone to go to the same place for all the project documents and reports, which naturally brings about collaboration and a team environment.
With everything, there is an upside and a downside, and with the cloud this is no different. For instance, cloud solutions still cost money. But, in the long run they will still save you money, not only in your IT department, but with the lack of equipment you will have to invest in. Also, with the cloud, there is the possibility of sharing IT costs between your contractors and subcontractors, making sure everyone is always on the same page and using the software you prefer to run your projects while saving you money.
We know that data, such as financials, might cause concern for many construction companies when it comes to the cloud, after all, it is like relinquishing control to the great unknown in the sky. But, with the option of a private cloud or even a hybrid cloud solution, which encompasses both public and private clouds, this might be the answer to your worries over security.
What happens if the server goes down? Even the best construction cloud solutions run the risk of going down from time to time. Another important thing to remember is that routine maintenance will have to take place, as well as upgrades to the server. The good news is outages are rare, temporary, and fixed rather quickly. Also, upgrades and maintenance take place when most job sites aren’t running at maximum capacity, in the middle of the night.
The biggest issue would be lack of an internet connection, because you need to be able to access the documents on the cloud. But, with WiFi available on mobile devices that now offer unlimited data plans, the issue of no internet access can easily be avoided. Also, most software allows the user to download the documents needed to work from, and then they can be uploaded back to the cloud as soon as internet or WiFi is within range.
A construction cloud solution is not just taking your old paper workflow and imaging or duplication of your paper forms and sharing them with the entire team. It is also not just a remote solution managed by other technology, but a way to truly leverage what just a couple of people working on a project used to know and make that information accessible and transparent to everyone on a project, including the owners.
Have you moved to a construction cloud solution for your job sites? Let us know in the comments.
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