Part 2: Leveraging Real-time Data Access

Last week we talked about the cost benefits of construction firms going paperless. Now let’s look at the broader picture. Simply put, today’s enterprise resource planning systems create significantly increased efficiencies in both the field and office.

How often have projects been delayed or activities stalled by the inability to review change orders, blueprints and other relevant documents in real time? What challenges would be solved by the immediate access to all job-related information from one electronic source by all key company personnel? What’s the value of instantly answering owner/developer questions in the field?

That’s the benefit of the digital age. Because today’s cloud-based ERP systems store files in one central digital location, real-time document review is now a reality. This is especially important for an environment with little tolerance for costly delays and driven by across-the-board immediacy.

For instance, solutions are currently available that offer user-friendly access to job information from almost any device connected to the Internet. This includes “anytime, anywhere” visibility. With a few simple clicks, authorized personnel from accounting staff to project managers and field supervisors can simply drill down from the most complex to the simplest details listed in a single job category. Boosters even exist for ensuring WiFi connectivity in remote locations. So, there’s no need to make important jobsite decisions without knowing all the key facts, since every detail input into the system is available for instantaneous review. No more guesswork.

In addition, today’s contractors, builders and construction firms live in a highly litigious environment. Every error and omission, no matter big or small, can cost thousands – if not millions. This is particularly true when design/build methodologies are increasingly blurring the lines between professional responsibilities, and designs are constantly revised throughout every construction phase. What better way to prepare against claims than with a detailed history of key details captured during the entire project lifecycle? Once entered, the information is available for posterity. Few limits exist for the depth of details input into the system in real time.

A note on security and business continuity
The cloud is secure. That’s the next big advantage of working with electronic files. They are not only hard to lose, but also recoverable if tragedy strikes. In fact, many companies that have already switched to digital are now upgrading to cloud services for these and other reasons. This includes eliminating the need to maintain and upgrade in-house servers, leaving IT personnel to focus on more value-added projects.

Furthermore, in addition to placing the security and backup of all data and files on the provider, each and every document can be timestamped and coded to readily display who did what, where and when. Plus, since all updates are performed electronically and stored in one central location, the need to decipher illegible notes scribbled on the side of documents is eliminated, along with the need to physically track down multiple file folders every time someone has a question or a project change is made.

Next up: Multi-cloud computing