The construction industry has been far slower than others to adopt new technologies and is still clinging to its analogue roots. In fact, many of the processes involved still happen on paper.
Business leaders in construction are missing the critical benefits of a cloud-based solution due to misunderstandings about the cloud and hesitations about new ways of thinking and working. If you haven’t moved to the cloud, now is the best time to take a look at why you should.
What’s holding construction companies back from embracing digitalisation?
Construction is notorious for being one of the least digitised industries. But, to be fair to construction, the technology needed to fully embrace the industry's challenging environments and complex workflows hadn’t become mainstream until somewhat recently.
It’s only over the last few years that developers have made SaaS (Software as a service) solutions to exploit the power and potential of cloud computing, mobile devices, and 4G wireless internet for the construction industry. But what else is holding construction back from taking the leap? Let’s take a look.
Lack of infrastructure support
Due to the lack of infrastructure within the industry, construction companies would need to make huge technology upgrades that require significant upfront costs. Even if the return on investment (ROI) is significant, the industry remains hesitant to make the necessary financial commitment.
No incentives to change
With no incentives for innovation in things like contracts, construction companies adopt the “if it isn’t broken, why fix it?” mentality - why make a huge financial commitment to digitalise if it’s not required?
Upfront costs are high due to the technical challenges the industry will face, for example, the implementation process across project sites isn’t an easy job. Scaling is another challenge, especially for smaller construction firms that usually function as subcontractors.
There is still a general misunderstanding of how the cloud works, like the fact that cloud-only allows access to certain information by those who have the correct permissions. Plus, handing over physical control of your data makes it feel less secure, when in fact, it’s the opposite.
What are the benefits of using cloud computing in the construction industry?
Data is the key to revolutionising the industry. The more technology is used to collect data, the better the ability to make informed (and data-driven) decisions. Let’s break down how better data leads to higher levels of productivity, better business outcomes, and sustainability.
Data for better construction financial management
Keeping track of project costs is tough when your construction firm has employees, contractors, and subcontractors all over the country. When data is not recorded and made available to project managers and Finance teams, it results in huge gaps between the estimated budget and actual costs.
Cloud-based project management software and other resources enable real-time communication between employees on the job site and those working from the office. Real-time data also helps identify issues and make data-driven decisions essential to the health of the project. Before, a construction financial manager could only tell you that a job was underbilled but not why.
When Finance teams have access to real-time spending from the job site, they can:
- Identify and optimise any unnecessary spending.
- Detect and prevent risks or fraud.
- Ensure budget compliance for different projects.
- Increase financial productivity with actionable data insights.
With artificial intelligence, machine learning, and high-performance computing being used to monitor transaction outliers; systems can learn that for a particular cost code, an outlier can trigger a warning and prevent costly discrepancies.
Easily organise projects and teams
When people and projects are poorly organised due to fractured communication, whole projects can grind to a hold, costing your business time and money.
Cloud business and project management software create better communication between project sites. Through Cloud, work sites can be kept in sync and offer better collaboration resulting in higher levels of efficiency and productivity. Because the software is so easily accessible from almost all mobile devices, the cloud makes it easier to share documents and information between the field and the back office, like accounting or HR data, all in real-time.
Construction project management software means having all the information you need in one, easy to access, place.
Cloud computing is the foundation of construction’s digital revolution. It supports all the most powerful software solutions and enables the industry to truly take advantage of the latest technology. The flexibility and agility of the cloud is key for sustainability.
Ensuring business continuity
As we’ve seen during the COVID-19 pandemic, Cloud connectivity is essential for business continuity. Cloud-connected business management software allows back-office workers can continue working without interruption from anywhere with internet access.
Plus, if you choose to store a backup of your data in the cloud it’s quick and easy to access should you need to. If you’re worried about how secure the Cloud is, Cloud security, also known as cloud computing security, consists of a set of policies, controls, procedures and technologies that work together to protect cloud-based systems, data, and infrastructure. These security measures are configured to protect cloud data, support regulatory compliance and protect customers' privacy as well as setting authentication rules for individual users and devices.
Improving all areas of the industry with digital solutions
Despite the concerns, technology continues to interrupt the industry by helping to perform essential tasks in a more manageable way, with fewer resources.
- Project Management: Reduce your organisation’s risk and increase project profitability by quickly identifying and rectifying potential problems before they become serious issues.
- Payroll Management: Accurately and efficiently prepare payroll for your employees and comply with regulations.
- Time and Expense Management: Capture all the time and expenses involved in projects, and keep people focused on business goals, not administrative tasks.
- Design management: Geological surprises are one of the tops causing of projects being delayed and going over the budget. New techniques using geographic information systems, integrate 3-D laser scanning, and high-definition photography, can offer high-quality surveying that improves speed and accuracy.
- Project Accounting: This shows the true financial impact of past projects, helping to make smarter project bids in the future.
- Risk Management: Minimise liability in the field with subcontractor compliance tracking of insurance certificates, certified reports, lien waivers etc.
- Document Management: Gain greater control of your documents and a clean audit trail which reduces your risk. Organise, store, and route invoices, contracts, all versions of drawings, RFIs, lease agreements, and more to keep your business moving.
If your construction company isn’t using a mobile device and cloud-based construction management software, it’s time to make the switch. The boosted productivity, efficiency, accessibility, security and general convenience of cloud computing make it a worthy investment for construction firms of all sizes.