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Cloud construction software simplifies the expansion process

  
  
  

To say that cloud computing has made its mark on the world of enterprise IT would be an understatement considering the widespread adoption of the technology over the past few years, as well as the seemingly endless cloud market growth that analysts continue to predict. The cloud has obviously caught on, but how can contractors in particular benefit from the conveniences afforded by these solutions?

For larger companies looking to expand their operations, financial visibility and network scalability are two powerful differentiating factors that the cloud offers. With Software-as-a-Service, businesses can grow faster than ever without being held back by burdensome legacy tech assets or concerns about wasting resources on hard-to-manage capital investments such as enterprise servers and storage units. Managers not only get a better sense of their budgetary limitations with a pay-as-you-go cost model, they also reap the benefits of industry-specific functionality that can take years to customize in-house.

Cloud changes the game across sectors
In a recent article for Business 2 Community, Raj Narayanaswamy, co-founder and co-CE
O of Replicon, explained that the cloud model of service delivery has surpassed traditional on-premise software solutions in nearly every respect, offering an unmatched level of flexibility and updates that require little effort on the part of IT staff. The source pointed to research from analyst firm IHS that expects enterprise spending on cloud computing to reach $235.1 billion in 2017, a figure three times the size of the $78.2 billion spent in 2011. 

In the case of chief financial officers in particular, a complete view of financial resources is essential, especially when dealing with a complex infrastructure that crosses international borders. An article from ZDNet highlighted the SaaS experience of BioPak joint CFO and CIO Steve Orleow as his company transitioned to cloud based facilities management software. 

"[SaaS-based ERP] has given us real-time consolidated information, and our month-end reconciliation process is simply a couple of day exercise which simply finesses the data, rather than gives us the end-of-month view of how we did," said Orleow, according to the source. "It has allowed us to know how we are doing all the time. We make decisions around margins, we are impacted by exchange rates, and we also do things like subsidize our freight heavily, so it is knowing what that impact will have in real-time, not in waiting two months to see that a decision has in fact impacted us heavily."

Contractors that feel as though their operations are becoming too big to handle can use construction project management software to regain control and expand with confidence.  

Efficiency rules in construction project management

  
  
  

Rival firms may have their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to building quality, client service and the equipment they use, but when it comes down to making true head-to-head comparison, operational efficiency is king in the world of construction. In the digital age, client expectations are sky-high, pressuring contractors to stick to the schedules they lay out and ensure the completion of project checkpoints by the time deadlines arrive. It is pressures such as these that make construction project management software such a vital asset in today's fast-paced business environment. 

Construction is slow on the draw
Out of comfort, familiarity and a general lack of information, many construction firms have yet to embrace cloud solutions despite widespread adoption of the technology across a range of other industries. According to a blog post by Steve Cosgrove, chief technology officer at adept4 Software, for Construction Digital, the sector has lagged behind others in terms of cloud usage for years, showing few signs of getting up to speed. The source pointed to Gartner research predicting that only 30 percent of construction firms will migrate to a cloud based enterprise resource management system by 2018, and that by 2017, hybrid solutions will fail to deliver differentiating potential as the cloud outpaces legacy technology entirely.

The fact that an industry known for its focus on service is especially behind the times technologically is striking, especially considering the emphasis that clients place on the efficiency of the building process in this day and age. However, this slow adoption rate means that the cards are stacked in favor of those ahead of the curve. The benefits of implementing a a cloud based construction project management software suite are made that much more powerful for firms that choose to migrate their systems, potentially putting them miles ahead of the competition. Cosgrove explained that the cost-effectiveness of the strategy, coupled with its real-time approach to construction financial management can mean huge savings and efficiency boosts for companies that take the leap.

Enterprise resource planning revamped
ERP systems have long been the solution of choice for construction firms, coming into the picture in the 1990s along with a slew of corporate IT innovations, Cosgrove pointed out. However, the traditional on-premise IT solutions that defined this early era of ERP have long been outdated and outperformed by the quickly deployed and highly scalable cloud based construction management software packages offered today. Pay-as-you-go price models allow managers to allocate funds based solely on their monthly use of resources rather than making a bulk computing purchase that may or may not be appropriate for their business needs. Also, cloud solutions are easily modified by providers without adding pressure to in-house IT staff members, curbing costs even further.

But while cloud capital project management efficiency gains are plentiful behind the scenes, the real show-stopping features of the software come into play on the work site. An Equiprent.com blog post recently explored the tangible data transfer speed advantages that cloud solutions afford construction companies when critical orders need to be issued on the fly. Not only are managers given an unprecedented level of control over project operations from processing materials orders to issuing commands to individual staff members, but employees and clients also benefit from greater visibility of a contract's progress and a better idea of how strategies will be executed. 

Between a cost-effective payment model, heightened awareness of construction project controls, a better grasp on financial planning and improved correspondence with workers and clients alike, contractors have nothing to lose by opting for a cloud based software solution.

Cloud architecture a fixture of enterprise operations

  
  
  

Now more than ever, cloud based IT solutions are establishing themselves as the premier method by which firms across nearly every sector store, manage, access and manipulate vital data and business applications. In particular, the advantages presented by cloud technology with respect to construction site management have been hard to ignore for most decision-makers, who enjoy the high availability of data and the ease with which solutions can be configured for specialized  purposes. The power of these tools is undeniable for organizations struggling to devise an IT strategy that uses tech resources efficiently without compromising performance on the user side - when deadlines approach, consistency is paramount. 

Let the numbers do the talking
While Web based solutions have done wonders for construction financial management practices and other aspects of contractor operations, the widespread use of cloud services speaks to the effectiveness of these strategies regardless of industry. The steadily increasing adoption of cloud based technologies has had a drastic impact on the IT market, as a recent article from ZDNet revealed some impressive data regarding the growth of the cloud segment. Analysts predict that by 2017, enterprises will spend more than $235 billion on cloud architecture and services, representing a 35 percent increase from the $174 billion mark expected to be reached by the end of this year. The cloud's reach is long, encompassing many formats and features - companies are embracing the technology from all angles and only upping their investments for the future.

"Enterprises today are trying to create faster, more efficient IT environments to ensure more responsive, agile and successful businesses," said Jagdish Rebello, senior director for information technology at IHS, according to ZDNet. "In these cloud-based settings, enterprises also want to integrate the deep analytical power of big data, which will give them competitive advantages through insights about present and prospective customers."

The source attributed the steady growth of the cloud largely to its performance capabilities, but also to its flexibility - businesses are able to gradually shift their data and applications to a cloud environment without having to put the rest of their operations on hold. This means that a company can remain active and still be pursuing the implementation of optimized IT systems to further benefit the functionality of its networks and deliver a higher quality user experience. In addition, a number of applications and features exclusive to cloud architectures are pushing business leaders to make the move in order to retain competitive advantage in their fields. In the world of construction, capital project management software is largely cloud based and serves as the gold standard of efficiency.

Some contractors fall behind the curve
Although most tech-savvy construction firms have embraced the cloud in some capacity, a recent article from Equipment World revealed that adoption in the sector is not as widespread as in some other industries. This is due primarily to the fact that contractors tend to be less concerned with cutting-edge technology than they are with reliable workforces and construction tools that are right for the job. The source pointed to a recent survey from Sage Construction & Real Estate revealing that half of the 838 North American construction companies it surveyed spent a mere 1 percent or less of their revenue on IT this past year, showing just where the priorities of most contractors lay. 

IT staff are also strangely absent from many operations in the construction sector, as the Sage survey revealed 35 percent of the respondents lacked any IT professionals in their organizations. While 45 percent had one individual filling a tech-oriented role, the skill gap speaks to the need for companies to boost their efforts in this area by dedicating more time and resources to staff and technology. Equipment World mentioned that budget cuts sustained during the recession, which hit contractors especially hard, have forced decision-makers to focus on the fundamentals of their operations to stay afloat in tough times. However, an optimistic outlook on the industry's future might represent a turning point for these business leaders to shift their attention to tech. 

According to the Sage report, mobile construction software solutions were easily the most widely recognized as a differentiating IT component, with 82 percent of organizations claiming these tools are the most valuable aspect of their tech strategies. Smartphones and tablets were shown to be increasingly popular on the job site, with 38 and 45 percent of respondents planning to incorporate these devices, respectively. Seeing as many cloud services have mobile device management solutions as a part of their packages, decision-makers can kill two birds with one stone by leveraging a more comprehensive suite and exploring different features as they grow more familiar with the technologies.

Construction management software will be a crucial addition for many contractors in the coming years, especially as the economy turns around and leaders look to seize the opportunity for growth.

Data backup a vital component of construction project management

  
  
  

Whether a decision-maker is on the job site day in and day out, keeping financial records in the back office or managing supply chain functionality between a handful of suppliers at once, the crucial role of data backup can never be underestimated in the digital era. Now that contractors must rely on IT systems such as construction management software as the backbone of their operations, the consequences of losing client, company or partner information can be devastating in terms of both immediate business processes and the long-term reputational damages that so often overshadow a firm down the line. 

This is why leaders must take the opportunity presented by World Backup Day, an unofficial IT holiday held every March 31, to evaluate their current business continuity measures and ensure that they are up to par with today's standards.

A recent article from Forbes explained that while many companies claim they acknowledge the importance of having a sound backup strategy in place, research has shown that 20 to 35 percent of organizations leave themselves vulnerable to data loss by failing to bolster their strategies in this area. With so many advancements occurring in the world of virtualized storage and other cloud computing methods, there is simply no excuse for decision-makers not to leverage a backup system as a part of their capital project management solutions.  

3-2-1, a rule of thumb
Even less tech-savvy contractors should be able to understand why a backup plan is so essential in this day and age, but knowing the components of a good strategy is a bit more of a challenge. Forbes offered a piece of advice from Nat Maple, senior VP and GM of global consumer/SOHO, OEM and online at Acronis, that could be a lifesaver for any decision-makers struggling in their search for a backup solution that will be ready for a worst case scenario at any time. 

"Consumers should benefit from a full system image backup solution to their digital lives and apply the '3-2-1' backup rule," explained Maple. "That means that people should have 3 copies of everything they care about, in 2 different formats, and 1 copy offsite. This is easy, quick and affordable for all users."

In honor of World Backup Day, Rand Secure Data released some of its findings from its Data Governance and Data Backup surveys, noting that of the 80 percent of respondents who have had to recover data from a backup, 37 percent experienced a recovery failure that left them high and dry. Regardless of whether a firm has a construction management software solution in place, it is never too late to implement a backup plan that will have its back when disaster strikes. 

Master interactive touch points to expand business horizons

  
  
  

In a previous blog post, client retention was the question of the hour - it is always easier to hold on to current business than it is to reach out and bring in new contracts. However, truly successful firms are never satisfied with the status quo, and are constantly seeking to close the next deal that will bring their brand to a new echelon of excellence. While a company can subsist at a reasonable level of revenue with a handful of reliable clients, decision-makers who want to push the envelope and expand their business horizons will search for opportunities at every turn and do everything in their power to pursue new projects - even if the parameters lie outside their immediate comfort zone. 

Using tech to win clients
Business leaders may believe that the days of using traditional marketing channels to reach out to new potential clients are long gone, but it is important to realize that while the tools may have changed over the years, the underlying principles of networking and communications remain the same with regard to expanding an audience in the construction industry. The main difference between then and now, however, is the frequency of contact necessary to make a positive impression on potential clients and offer multiple channels through which contracts can be discussed, examined, planned and executed. Customers have raised their standards for connectivity across industries, and construction project management is no different. With more customer touch points come more opportunities to succeed in drawing in new business - or develop a bad reputation that can be hard to shake. 

First impressions are key regardless of the industry under discussion, but construction is a different story. Clients interested in pursuing a new contract with a firm will be even more discerning when it comes to the initial stages of a project, as building homes, renovating structures and making additions is a costly, time-consuming endeavor. Clients want to ensure that they have a reliable, professional team working with them throughout, and it is up to decision-makers to convey that image of excellence to draw new contracts into their rotation. Nevertheless, some business leaders may be overwhelmed by today's digital standards and not know the best approach to spreading the word about their companies. A recent blog post from BrandExcitement provided an extensive list of channels that can be utilized to give construction firms the marketing boost they need.

  • An informative, attractive website: If a major construction firm does not have a high-functioning, easily navigable website that features all relevant information for visitors, it is a miracle that it has a client base in the first place. Most customers search for contractors over the Internet, and maintaining a shoddy site can be a deadly mistake if not addressed early on. Today's Web portals are not only expected to be visually appealing with bold imagery and project examples, but clients should be able to find out anything they need to know to avoid forcing another stage in their research process - too many stepping stones and companies risk scaring away potential customers.
  • An active web presence in other channels: An intuitive and informative website is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what clients expect from contractors' online efforts in the digital age. BrandExcitement noted that companies should leave room in their budgets for an up-to-date blog, a social media strategy to connect with visitors on a more personal level, frequent newsletters to keep people in the loop on developments, and e-mail correspondence with personalized information that makes customers feel appreciated. If outsourced, these tasks can get expensive, so decision-makers should have a comprehensive construction financial management solution to stay on top of things.
  • A conventional approach as well: Business leaders should embrace the power and convenience of digital channels to reach new clients, but BrandExcitement suggested that failing to utilize traditional touch points in a marketing strategy is a massive oversight that can cause companies to miss out on a wide range of potential business opportunities. The source pointed to telephone lead development, speeches and presentations at exhibitions and trade shows, direct mail including postcards and letters, networking groups and loyalty programs as great ways to access a demographic that may not be as reliant on computers for their information.  

Bridging channel gaps
With so many ways to reach out and attract new clients, decision-makers must be careful to maintain congruence throughout all of these channels, as a recent survey from eDigitalResearch and Portaltech Reply revealed that this consistency is proving to be a challenge for many companies as they expand the range of their customer touch points. The study showed that in 2013, 63 percent of respondents used four or more channels, a figure that rose 20 percent from the previous year. Firms must not only use construction software on the job site, but also to keep marketing efforts on point across these numerous channels. 

Construction project management key to retaining a quality client base

  
  
  

Business leaders in the construction industry have plenty to keep track of on the job site, in the office and between suppliers, but growth is only possible when companies expand their horizons and seek new connections to lock down contracts that will drive revenue and bolster a positive reputation within the field. However, relationships must be kept strong with current clients if a firm is to successfully delve into new projects with confidence and recommendations that show the firm's best side. To ensure that operations are running smoothly on both fronts, decision-makers need to establish a reliable construction project management software solution and use these tools to their full potential, as well as implement best practices in other crucial areas.

Mastering the art of retention
It has been said many times in the business world that it takes a lot more time and resources to find new customers than to keep the ones already interested in a brand, and this is especially true for an industry such as construction that requires such a high threshold of trust to be reached before a client will follow through on a contract. So, what can managers in this field do to make sure that their projects are meeting deadlines, as well as the expectations of those commissioning their companies? In many cases, it comes down to good, old-fashioned customer service - according to Inc., there are six ways for firms to get the most out of their current client connections and develop a partnership that will stay strong for years to come.

  1. Think beyond the traditional business relationship: There is much to be said for a business that actively works to get to know its clients, inquiring about aspects of their lives and interests that would typically be the territory of friends and family members. Managers who put themselves in the position to gather these personal details will be better positioned to make business decisions that reflect what they have learned in conversation with clients. People prefer to work with those they like, not just those who can successfully complete a transaction. 
  2. Communicate questions, comments and concerns: Articulating problem points in a contract is an essential part of construction project management, and according to Inc., a lack of regular and effective communication with clients forms many of the issues that result in dissatisfaction with a company's service. Managers should be as direct as possible when interacting with their clients and address concerns immediately instead of putting them off to be dealt with later - they'll likely only get worse when put on the back burner.
  3. Develop strategies together and set clear expectations: Open channels of communication must be established from the very beginning of the client relationship, as Inc. explained the importance of setting a clear strategy with attainable goals and realistic timelines, identifying this as a crucial component of retaining business down the road. A misalignment of expectations from the start will only result in confusion and frustration for clients who aren't getting the service they anticipated. It is better to remain completely honest than to stretch the truth even a little. Construction software can lay the details of a project on the table for total visibility that both managers and clients alike can benefit from.
  4. Avoid being a 'yes man' kind of business: Companies that try to do it all are bound to fail, and team leaders need to set boundaries for their own capabilities in order to keep a tight ship and deliver the best possible service to their clients. Inc. noted that businesses are hired for their objective opinions, not to bend over backwards and accommodate requests that may not be in the best interest of a project's successful completion. Keeping an open dialogue is important, but managers must know when to draw the line and maintain integrity.
  5. Listen up as much as possible: Most clients aren't familiar with the more technical aspects of the construction industry, so it is vital that team leaders do their best to listen closely to what their customers are trying to communicate throughout a project to ensure satisfaction. If things really aren't clear, managers must ask direct questions and get to the key takeaways of a particular vision. It is always better to go back and confirm details before making an assumption that can compromise a client's happiness with a project.
  6. Don't avoid the budget conversations: Much like earlier points about transparency and communication, the importance of being open about budgets cannot be stressed enough, as Inc. pointed out the severe consequences of spending more than a customer expects. According to a Gallup poll for the Better Business Bureau, 93 percent of Americans said that a company's reputation for honesty and fairness is extremely important. Construction accounting best practices keep clients in the loop about budgets from start to finish. 

Large firms use construction management software to minimize security threats

  
  
  

Organizations that manage thousands of employees, tech assets and client relationships are given the advantage of strength in numbers, naturally being more resilient to economic shifts and other unpredictable factors that may affect the business world. With strong industry reputations, these firms are also better suited to attract high-quality contracts and the best workers that the talent pool has to offer. There is also no denying the fact that the latest, most powerful construction equipment is key to completing projects with efficiency and to the greatest degree of quality. However, weak security measures can have particularly devastating consequences for these companies, as a deeper and more complex infrastructure can be more susceptible to gaps and network vulnerabilities. TechRepublic revealed a hazardous IT landscape in a recent article. The source noted that in 2013, the Identity Theft Resource Center recorded 614 data breaches, which accounted for a 30 percent increase over the previous year. Network security is becoming more crucial and can't be taken lightly.

Understanding today's threats
Because today's companies are tasked with managing a range of vital computing processes, business leaders must leverage construction management software to deliver powerful applications and resources without risking the assets that clients and partners rely on. A growing threat matrix means that firms must be particularly tactful in navigating the IT landscape so as to best protect their networks against the many malicious factors that can wreak havoc on a company's operations both in and out of the office. According to a recent article from InformationWeek, there are more than one million victims of cybercrimes every day, and attacks occur every twelve seconds on average. Seeing as 80 percent of these criminal schemes are coordinated by organized groups with powerful capabilities, those in the world of private enterprise must have security measures strong enough to defend themselves against the most advanced threats.

So, what are decision-makers in the construction industry to do if they feel that their network protection lacks the strength to fend off the ever-growing concern of cybercrime? Working closely with service providers is crucial, as many cloud construction site management solutions are now implemented and maintained by third parties. Nevertheless, businesses are ultimately responsible for the effectiveness of their own measures and must work to actively improve weak points. InformationWeek explained that there is no quick fix when it comes to bolstering the security of an infrastructure, and in the case of large firms, a multi-faceted approach is necessary to ensure the maximal protection of tech assets and vital company information. The source laid down some components of a well-protected network that decision-makers can use as a template to assess the strength of their own strategies. 

  1. Stepping out of the silo mentality: A primary cause of network perforation is a siloed approach to department organization in which employees are unaware of the problems that face teams outside of their immediate field of expertise. InformationWeek pointed out that breaking down these interdepartmental barriers is a step in the right direction for companies that need greater visibility of operations as a whole, granting them better insights into individual threats that can worsen if not addressed immediately.
  2. Creating a cohesive security vision: Related to the concept of silos, business leaders must make their security strategies unmistakably clear across every element of their organization, the source said. Promoting collaboration is a key part of any business strategy, and teamwork can go a long way when improving security measures and incorporating best practices. Accountability and shared responsibility count for a lot, especially in a complex construction environment.
  3. Prioritizing crucial operations: While company-wide initiatives are the best way to raise general awareness of security issues, decision-makers must eventually pinpoint areas of their networks that are particularly vulnerable to malicious threats. Setting priorities for conscientious construction financial management or another specific element of a firm's operations can help decision-makers to better align their efforts and allocate resources in a smarter way. 
  4. Getting the most from tech resources: Business leaders must meet with their IT staff and any infrastructure partners to develop the best possible security strategies given the tech assets at their disposal. This can cut out concerns of wasting valuable resources, as well as reducing the chance of spending more on security tools that won't be useful.
  5. Using available data: Firms that have already leveraged powerful analytics and network visibility tools should use them to not only better their customer-facing operations, but dive deeper into their security blueprints and note where measures could be improved. With so much data flowing through company networks at all times, decision-makers must be aggressive in analyzing their information for purposes of security.
  6. Preparing for the worst: In the event that a data breach does occur, InformationWeek told executives that a recovery plan must be in place to minimize damages and get operations back on track as soon as possible. Leaders should also view attacks as lessons learned and strengthen the weak points that allowed for the breach to occur. 

Mobile takes over - can construction firms keep up?

  
  
  

The mobile revolution is in full swing, and business leaders in the construction industry have no choice but to acknowledge its potential. Not only are smartphones, tablets and laptops allowing people to be more connected over the ever-expanding world of Wi-Fi, but organizations in the private and public sectors are embracing the convenience and computing power that today's mobile devices offer. With the promise of improved communications, heightened collaborative potential and the chance for employees to access mission-critical applications from virtually anywhere they want, the impact of the personal device on the workforce is undeniable in the context of both construction management software and client-side correspondence. 

Get mobile or go home
Although many construction firms are concerned primarily with how mobile is affecting their day-to-day operations, decision-makers can't overlook the impact that personal device use is having on their client base, recipients of their e-mail newsletters and visitors to their websites. According to research from analyst firm Walker Sands, mobile devices accounted for 28 percent of total website traffic toward the end of 2013, representing an increase of 67 percent from the previous year. The organization's Quarterly Mobile Traffic Report suggested that companies should not focus on optimizing their online platforms or content for a particular mobile operating system, but rather ensure that a consistent online presence is in place for each major platform.

"Device preference aside, the share of traffic coming from mobile continues to grow," John Fairley, director of Web services at Walker Sands stated in the report. "Rather than getting caught up in the device wars, companies should prioritize mobile and implement strategies that put equal emphasis on mobile and traditional Web design."

First impressions mean a lot, and in the online world, they can make or break the chance of someone signing a contract with a construction company. Creating a welcoming, memorable and highly functional online portal for visitors interested in a firm's services is absolutely key in this day and age, especially for large companies that cannot devote substantial attention to every visitor seeking information or looking for a consultation. With so much customer focus on portable platforms, there is no better time for businesses to reevaluate their consumer-facing Web strategies and bring them up to par with today's mobile-centric user experience.

Back on the job 
While decision-makers need to be made aware of the growing demand for online communication channels conducive to mobile use, many are shifting their focus to more immediate concerns regarding the use of these same devices on the job site itself. A bustling construction zone might not seem like a very friendly place for delicate smartphones and laptops, but these areas are exactly the ones where companies can see benefits when they use these mobile platforms. An article from eWeek highlighted research from Sage North America showcasing some of the powerful advantages that personal devices can bring to firms that have the right hardware and construction software for the job.

"The construction industry particularly benefits from mobile devices, which, for example, can eliminate the need to haul bulky sets of plans and 4-inch-thick books of project specifications to the job site," Joe Langner, executive vice president of Sage North America, reportedly said in a statement. 

By tapping into the power of mobile at the work site, small teams and larger workforces alike can achieve more than ever before thanks to streamlined communications and collaborative features that come standard with many of the construction project management solutions on the market today. EWeek explained that team leaders have the opportunity to file detailed reports from any of the project sites where they find themselves working and cut out countless wasted hours previously spent traveling from one location to the next to issue specific orders. Decision-makers who leverage a comprehensive software suite are often surprised to realize how inefficient their practices were beforehand.

Sticking to the books
Construction accounting is another crucial, if slightly less exciting aspect of the business that can see efficiency and productivity boosts thanks to the right mobile implementations. In-office administration is vital to the smooth internal operation of an organization's financial procedures including project budgeting, worker scheduling and payments, supply chain management, client transactions and many other key processes. With the ability for employees on this side of the fence to maintain clear visibility of fiscal records, accessing and updating them on laptops and smartphones on the road, at home or in the break room, businesses can cut down on many of the hindrances that desktop-only offices still struggle with.

Whether leaders decide to focus on mobile priorities in their customer-facing initiatives, construction site operations or in-office functionality, there are advantages to be gained in each. Forward-thinking firms will push all three and reach new levels of success in the mobile era. 

Supply chain shortcomings and how the cloud can help

  
  
  

At the core of a high-functioning construction firm is a streamlined, reliable supply chain that allows for optimal performance when it comes to executing crucial business processes and finishing projects on time. The way that a company structures and allocates its funds with respect to its construction supply chain is often a key indicator of how well upper level management handles its responsibilities, reflecting vital decisions whose implications are felt throughout the entire organization. As the backbone of a firm's operations, the design and implementation of a cost-effective and efficient chain is crucial, especially in this increasingly complex and often unstable economic climate.

Self-evaluation of supply chains is crucial
It may be easy for a large, moderately successful company to set up its supply chain, create a budget and leave the strategy untouched if there are no glaring problems or shortcomings that prevent project execution or a reasonable level of yearly growth. However, it is this exact "if it isn't broken, don't fix it" mentality that can spell doom for construction firms that fail to isolate systemic problems in their supply chains which hold them back from achieving much more than they currently are. Understandably, management faces a daunting challenge when it comes to evaluating the performance of its infrastructure, but the implications of a dysfunctional supply chain are too severe to overlook, according to Construction News.

Managers must overcome their resistance to critically analyze their chains, understanding that there are often impressive cost savings to be had in unexpected places. Even if a supply chain is not inherently flawed in its design or execution, there nearly always exists small tweaks that can be made to keep expenses down. On a year over year basis, the financial results of these changes can add up to equal a major investment with the potential to bring  a company to the next level of success. Team leaders cannot underestimate the power of small, accumulated savings, especially when it comes to such critical business infrastructure as a construction supply chain. Construction News laid out the main ways that supply chains fail to reach their full potential:

  • High transaction costs resulting from fragmented subcontractor communications and a lack of solution development on behalf principal contractors and clients from the start of a project
  • Overworked upper managerial staff expected to provide too much input with regard to  project coordination and on-site activities; lack of employee and lower management accountability
  • A lack of foresight to keep waste at a minimum and the costs that result from the accumulation of inefficient business processes, including integration shortcomings

How the cloud can change the chain for the better
When a company implements cloud solutions to address its capital project management needs, it enjoys a range of benefits that can serve to address many of the problems noted by Construction News in its exploration of dysfunctional supply chain practices. Not only will team leaders have a broader vision of the firm's financial assets and the allocation of its resources toward supply chain operations, but clients and subcontractors will also be kept in the loop with greater visibility of these records, opening up discussion for improvements in each component. In a recent blog post by VentureBeat, advantages of cloud based solutions were examined with regard to supply chain connectivity, affordability and scalability. These are each key factors in operating a maximally efficient supply chain and can benefit any construction firm struggling with fragmented operations in this area. 

Here are how some of the potentially treacherous consequences of a faulty chain can be ameliorated by cloud based construction management software:

  • Communication and collaboration: As Construction News explained, poor communication among principal contractors and their supply chain providers can result in transaction costs that are far too high to sustain in the long term. By implementing cloud solutions, businesses can enhance their connectivity with other companies to streamline supply chains and keep expenses at a minimum. According to VentureBeat, the perceived independence of an "in-house" IT solution is essentially worthless when firms run into compatibility problems in their supply chain operations - flexible cloud software makes it easy to coordinate transactions across regional boundaries and remain in communication with collaborators throughout the length of the project lifespan
  • Cost-effective change management: Successful companies in the construction industry know the art of adapting to change effectively and without hesitation. Whether encountering a shift in compliance regulations or a last-minute client request to change an order, firms equipped with cloud construction project controls can easily roll with the punches and deliver a high quality product in the face of adversity. Because cloud services are subscription based, internal IT teams won't have to worry about upkeep or updates, allowing them to focus on the fundamentals of their supply chain and make the most out of their resources. 

Construction project management software relieves pressure on team leaders

  
  
  

While they may not be at the head of their corporations, project managers have a wide array of high-pressure responsibilities that weigh on them day in and day out. Not only are they responsible for all of the workers on their teams, they must report regularly to their superiors as well as keep clients happy throughout the duration of the project and ensure its completion before deadlines hit. With these all of these expectations and more, managers appreciate any help they can get. This is why construction project management software is so valuable for those in this role. 

The role of managers in the digital age
There is no doubt that the variety and intensity of the duties placed on project managers have escalated as technology has advanced over the years. Before companies adopted digital solutions, team leaders were assigned roles that could be filled with the limited resources available to them at the time, i.e. office-based phone systems, physical pen-and-paper financial records, in-person client and subcontractor collaboration and the many other restrictions of what now seems like the stone age. So, what is expected of today's project managers? Here are some responsibilities laid out by ConstructionChat and how construction project controls solutions are helping these leaders do their jobs more effectively. 

  • Creating a project vision: Every contract begins with an idea, and project managers must work with clients to determine the details of what they envision for their project. This means that companies need to provide their managerial staff with the tools necessary to communicate with clients from the very start of a contract, setting a precedent of availability and transparency for the rest of the customer experience. Whether project managers need collaborative software to guide individuals through blueprints, review financial plans with digital records in real-time or simply ensure constant connectivity to receive vital messages and inquiries, construction management software can give them the support they need.
  • Working with consultants and subcontractors: Client correspondence is important to cultivate trustworthy relationships, but project managers must also make sure they stay on top of their communications with other professionals working with them on a contract if they want to complete daily tasks and meet deadlines without a problem. ConstructionChat explained that the typical project manager will have to oversee and coordinate the activities utilization, implementation and technical consultants engaged on client assignments simultaneously, oftentimes juggling the responsibilities of multiple contracts at a time. Having a sound construction project management solution is crucial in effectively orchestrating such a range of disparate parties. 
  • Regularly report to supervisors: In addition to keeping track of communications with workers, clients and business partners, project managers at large firms are expected to provide detailed reports of their progress on contracts, financial records and any other points of interest to their superiors. Being able to create concise and informative daily accounts for the purposes of corporate filing is a key part of staying on track with deadlines, keeping operational standards high and ensuring accountability across every aspect of the project manager position. This is where team leaders can turn to construction accounting software to ensure meticulous record-keeping while retaining the option to go back and change any details that require alteration down the line. 
  • Developing new client connections: As if project managers didn't already have enough on their plates, most are expected to build lists of prospective clients and meet with them regularly to build trust in the hope of locking down a contract. This requires constant availability not only during the workday, but off the job site as well. Team leaders must be able to rely on their smartphones, laptops and tablets as channels of communication whenever they need to get in touch with client leads or quickly bring someone through a consultation. Business in the digital era moves at a fast pace, and project managers cannot afford to miss a beat when it comes to expanding their customer bases.
  • Training and supporting employees: While veteran team members can often lend a helping hand in the process of onboarding new employees, it is ultimately up to project managers to handle the details of bringing on new staff and guiding them through their adjustment period. Not only does this assist newcomers as they learn the ropes of the job, it will set a standard of support and help foster a working environment with healthy levels of morale and collaboration among teams. In addition, managers who take the time to teach their employees about the ins and outs of construction management software will avoid leaving those workers on their own to figure out its nuances. 

Self-evaluation and growth
The best project managers know how to assess their strengths and weakness, dedicating more time to the areas where they could improve. According to LifeHacker, this is the true sign of a quality leader, and the right tech solutions can give managers the personal insights they need to make adjustments that can benefit their companies. 

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