Large general contractors, engineering firms and other businesses in the construction industry face a number of unique technical challenges that dictate their information technology strategy. Many opportunities exist for construction companies to modernize their operations and benefit from mobile devices, the cloud and other modern technology. However, this industry’s adoption rate of new solutions lags behind.
This article will explore the technologies that are available to businesses in the construction industry and the unique challenges it can help them overcome.
The Construction Industry IT Landscape
The construction industry has a lot of powerful IT functionality available but adopting it into organizations is easier said than done. In some cases, you have legacy solutions that have been in place for decades. The resistance to change is significant and a complete overhaul costs a lot of time and resources.
High turnover creates another technology hurdle. The workforce changes rapidly, especially at the front-line levels. You may partner with staffing firms, subcontractors and other external partners to meet your needs. The construction industry attracts a wide range of people with varying technical proficiencies. New solutions must account for this environment and offer user-friendly training resources.
Smart devices and other mobile technology create the most significant change in construction. Workers don’t need to check back in at the office or rely on paper documentation that may be outdated or get lost. Cloud-based solutions also make it possible for businesses to have the same resources at the job-site as in the office.
The contractors, supervisors, engineers, architects and everyone else involved in the project can be on the same page. This digital transformation makes operations safer, improves productivity, lowers costs and provides flexibility. Business processes get streamlined and collaboration is enhanced between stakeholders. Since it’s easier to keep the information up-to-date, you can avoid costly mistakes that set projects back for days, weeks or even months.
The Benefits of Hybrid Enterprise File Sync and Share Solutions
A hybrid Enterprise File Sync and Share (EFSS) solution is a particularly useful type of technology for the construction industry. It helps construction firms with communication between the many different parts of the company. It’s designed to work in the office and out in the field, which makes it invaluable.
All of the files stored on this system are kept up-to-date in real-time. If an architect makes a substantial change to the job, then project managers and site supervisors know about it and can inform the team. Everyone accesses essential resources through a common platform, rather than using siloed solutions that make it difficult or impossible to effectively collaborate with other teams.
The construction industry has a variety of large format files, such as blueprints and schematics, which are logistically difficult to send over email or reprinted and delivered to the site. The EFSS has no problem delivering these documents electronically.
Many EFSS solutions integrate with specialized construction applications. You can still use the construction software that is already in place in your infrastructure, but you can incorporate your EFSS with it to have access to your files.
Another benefit with hybrid EFSS is that they’re designed to operate even when you’re working in areas with limited connectivity. Plenty of job sites have little to no access to the Internet, but they still need to use these resources throughout the project.
Secure Communications and Cyber Security
The construction industry’s slow adoption of modern technology solutions makes it a tempting target for hackers. Strong cybersecurity and secure communications are an essential part of the modern construction workplace. It doesn’t matter if your workers are in the office or out in the field, they need safe and secure access to essential systems.
Focusing on these two areas is particularly important if you want to have contracts with the Department of Defense or you currently do. Compliance with the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS) is now a DoD contract requirement. The National Institute of Standards and Technology published NIST 800-171, which goes into detail on the security controls that you need in place to meet these requirements. A hybrid EFSS solution can help you improve your IT security measures through audit controls, user account management and other useful features.
Benefits of a Reliable IT Infrastructure
A reliable IT infrastructure provides improvements across the board of your construction firm. You become more productive and scalable through cloud and SaaS-based solutions. Since you pay for the capacity that you use for most cloud solutions, you don’t need a large capital investment as your business grows.
A managed IT service provider who specializes in the construction industry can help you implement an EFSS and other technology to modernize your operations. While the construction industry has slow adoption rates, companies that aren’t going through a digital transformation now will be left behind in the future. A Managed IT Services company acts as your trusted partner and guides you through the procurement, deployment and maintenance of these solutions. They help you get the most out of your technology investment so you can achieve more as a construction firm.
The right technology can make a world of difference for any construction firm. While it’s difficult to overcome the roadblocks standing in your way, the payoff for going through a digital transformation with the help of a managed IT service company is well worth the effort.