Cloud-based construction management apps have been making waves in the industry, leading to a rapid shift to the cloud over the last five years. This move to cloud-based work to help with transparency and efficiency on jobsites has only intensified in the last few years, making it evermore important to keep your tech up to speed.
For your company, going digital is one thing, but being on the cloud is another. Even if you work in a digital environment more now than you did in the past, your business could still benefit from better connectivity in the office and out on the field.
How can you stay connected and work more efficiently? Adopt cloud-based software like your competitors. Cloud-based software continues to be the peak of collaborative tech– with it, you can work from anywhere, access your information on the go and even remotely visit a worksite to make sure things are getting done. No mobile platform without cloud access is going to give you the same results.
So, whether your company is using the cloud now or you’re just thinking about looking into cloud-based construction management software for the first time, you need to know the differences between the types of software and platforms you’ll see as well as all the benefits the cloud offers. In this article, we’ll discuss the evolution of cloud-based software in the construction industry and the trends that are helping to usher in the future of the Cloud in the field.
Cloud-based software has been evolving and getting rooted into the construction industry over the last several years, becoming even more important in the last three.
This kind of software began to evolve in the 2000s, but most construction companies were still using paper-based plans and workflows at that time. They’d work in the office or out in the field and need to do reports after traveling or by calling over a landline. Cellular service was not even prominent at that time, though it was becoming more common.
It wasn’t until 2007 that the introduction of the smartphone started to cause a stir and pushed what could be done remotely. Companies found that they were able to push more toward mobile connectivity, replacing the pen-and-paper concepts of the past for digital processes that helped them become more efficient.
At that time, the cloud was still not prominent or well-developed. Many files would be available on a single desktop or network, but they were still, at the very least, centralized in those systems. Seeing a need for better connectivity in the field and remotely, that soon began to change.
After construction professionals realized that there were benefits of not needing to do everything on paper or to go back to the office to make updates to digital documents, they started looking for other options. At the same time (around 2010) tablets hit the scene and changed everything across multiple industries when cloud-based apps were developed.
With the introduction of cloud-based construction apps, professionals were empowered to work remotely, being able to be freer and more efficient from anywhere they could get an internet connection. Their devices could keep them up to date at all times, significantly reducing errors, time traveling between the office and field and cutting down on miscommunication.
Since then, cloud-based software has only grown in popularity. Still, it was not being integrated rapidly until around 2020, when the pandemic resulted in stay-at-home orders and an increased movement to remote working conditions. That push has resulted in a rapid integration of cloud-based tech, leading most companies to use it today.
Cloud-based construction management technology includes all the systems and storage, devices, strategies and processes needed to manage any construction project. On the cloud, this kind of management goes even further by shifting from “we need this data somewhere accessible,” to “we need to be able to collaborate effectively and manage our processes on the cloud.”
Cloud-based construction management technology is changing the way the construction industry works, much to the benefit of those working on projects. Today, projects have the potential to run more efficiently and smoothly than ever before, all thanks to the way construction management apps and the cloud work together to create a transparent, efficient method for clarifying the project and making data accessible.
What are the benefits of having your cloud-based construction management system on the cloud?
With cloud-based technology, anyone with the right qualifiers can log in and access the data they’re looking for. Having everything centered and accessible within a cloud-based construction management system can streamline how you find information.
In a past FMI report, it was found that construction professionals spent around 35% of the time on unproductive activities like dealing with mistakes or conflict resolution. The benefit of cloud-based systems and platforms is that they’re much more accessible and transparent, so they reduce the likelihood of problems arising.
When processes are run with cloud–based construction management systems, teams save time. They just have to log into the app or program to get into their particular project and double-check their documents, plans, work orders or other relevant data. Additionally, there is a huge benefit in that people no longer have to make trips to deliver photos or plans — everything is right there waiting for anyone who has been granted access to the system.
There is nothing more important than making sure your team has a single source of information during a complicated project. By providing one comprehensive touchpoint, you can cut down on errors and misunderstandings, helping your project move forward more smoothly.
A single source of truth (SSOT) provides one reliable source of data for everyone on your team. Those who have access to the data have updates in real time. An SSOT helps improve consistency by making sure everyone is on the same page.
The enhanced collaboration provided by cloud-based project management makes it simpler for teams to work together. The software tracks changes, and supervisors or team members can identify work progress from various stakeholders and trades to understand what’s happening with the project.
In the event of a change or critical update, the entire team can be notified at once, helping halt the project or encourage people to adjust their workflow to new specification after resolving the conflict or issue that has arisen.
A further benefit of cloud-based construction management software, apps, or platforms is that this kind of technology can be scaled. Even if your company is small now and has limited needs for technology, you will still want to be able to scale as your business grows.
Since platforms make sure that you have project information available anywhere you have an internet connection, you just have to log into any mobile device to provide a client or customer with detailed information about your services, history, projects, and more. All of this means that you’re less likely to miss out on opportunities, because you always have the information you need at hand.
Among the best features of cloud computing in the construction industry is the security that it provides to your business.
Having everything backed up on the cloud is essential to protect your business’s interests. On the cloud, you can keep your customer data, designs, financial information, proprietary details, plans, and more safe and secure. If a computer crashes or your phone is damaged, you don’t have to worry about losing your files–everything is going to be right where you left it on the cloud.
It’s just reality that accidents and unexpected events happen. From dropping a laptop with project details on it to shredding the wrong pile of paperwork, you could run into all kinds of issues that slow down your productivity. Fortunately, the cloud has your back. It provides accessible, off-site storage that is there for you regardless of what problems you have in the offline world. Whether your business has a flood, fire, or another kind of emergency, you can get all your files back as long as they’re backed up on the cloud.
So, if you’re ready to start moving your processes onto the cloud, you may want to consider finding the right cloud-based construction management tools for your business first.
Not all cloud solutions are created equally, which can feel overwhelming since there are so many to choose from. Fortunately, there are tips you can use to find the best cloud-based construction management solution for your company, so you get the solution that has the right features to help you scale your business while staying connected.
What should you look for?
On any platform, you need to have an excellent common data environment (CDE). This is a repository that securely stores your data, which may range from contracts to models to specifications, all in one centralized location.
You also want the platform to help connect your data and teams, so your teams are updated regularly and have access to the information they need. Along with that, the platform should connect your workflows and project phases, so you can minimize data loss during the progression of the project. This should apply to design and construction all the way through turnover.
You also want to choose cloud-based management technology with a strong integration ecosystem. Talk to vendors about how they define their ecosystem. Is the integration as open as it needs to be? If not, the system may be less functional than you’d hoped.
Having your systems in an interconnected ecosystem allows you to leverage information more easily. You’re not having to flip back and forth between Excel documents or printed sheets. Instead, with the availability of APIs and data, you can take advantage of having your data all in one place and leverage it to enhance your project execution strategies.
A strong integration ecosystem means that your tech works together seamlessly. Apps that seamlessly interface with one another is the bedrock of connected data in your tech stack.
Every team and project is different, so you need to have cloud-based software that caters to your needs. Your software solution needs to be customized for your team, and it also needs to standardize your processes. Everyone on your team can be on the same page and speak the same language when you use standardized templates, systems, and programs during the work day.
Helpfully, your customized software may help you create customized templates that make it easier for everyone on the project to know what to expect. You won’t have to spend time trying to decipher different templates drawn up by subcontractors or different teams. You’ll have everyone using the same templates and working toward the same goals.
The great thing about today’s best cloud solutions is how flexible they are. You want to have flexible user permission settings (and robust settings) to make sure only the right people see sensitive information and data. With that kind of flexibility in place, your company can rest easier knowing that your data is secure.
Flexibility is great when it comes to pricing, too. You may want to find a vendor with flexible licensing, so you’re not limited in how you purchase the technology. Look for a solution that offers the features you want without inflating the cost because of adding in features you’ll never use.
Construction teams are always on the move, but whether you’re in the office or the field, you need to have access to your data. Mobile access provides it.
Mobile access shouldn’t come with paired down accessibility and features. You want to make sure any cloud solution has advanced functionality to allow your teams to search and collaborate in real time. To do that, look for cloud-based software that is natively mobile.
What does that mean? It means that the solution was designed for mobile devices, so it will work with them smoothly. Software retrofitted to a mobile device may be faulty and cause hiccups during your work day.
Don’t settle for a mobile construction app without cloud-based project management. A mobile app may be great, but if it doesn’t keep you connected on the cloud, then it isn’t doing the full job. You need to find a solution that keeps you and your team connected on the go, making your projects more efficient and keeping your processes synchronized.
Want to learn how Autodesk Construction Cloud can transform your workflows and change the way you think of construction? Learn more here.