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Cloud communication: The cure-all for project inefficiency

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The adage "time is money" couldn't be more pertinent to the construction industry. As business and production costs rise, adapting to new technology will no longer be a benefit, but a necessity. Construction software dramatically increases project communications, collaboration, and organization, in turn escalating efficiency, productivity and profitability.

Outdated technology = Communication suicide

With so many moving parts and individuals involved, miscommunication throughout a project is a guarantee. With thousands of emails and multiple revisions going back and forth, the volume is endless, making the systemizing of updates to contracts, insurance documents, RFIs, change orders, blueprints, etc. impossible. With no streamlined communication structure in place, details (and dollars) will undoubtedly be lost.

For example, there are many duplicate drawing sets and project plans distributed throughout the course of a construction project, with revisions and markups occurring constantly. Imagine the time wasted by a project manager trying to determine which is the most up to date when he has piles of each on his desk. That time is not only squandered for him, but for his entire team also working off of outdated versions not mention the cost of potential rework. It is vital that all team members have real time access to the most up-to-date version so the project stays on track for both budget and deadline.

Keeping projects organized and on schedule is imperative to profitability as well, and avoiding delays requires each team member to deliver their work on time. Paper-based systems and outdated technology, like fax machines and endless spreadsheets, impede the ability to anticipate delays and supervise deadlines, and end up wasting valuable time and resources. Hard-copy RFIs can take days to garner a response, bottlenecking project schedules -- forcing able subcontractors to wait for answers and further instruction -- which can potentially halt construction altogether.

Embracing cloud communication

Version tracking capabilities of cloud-based construction software is only one way to improve revision control, document organization, and team communication. It significantly improves project efficiency by automating version control and project schedules--eliminating confusion and rework.

Cloud-based applications like Procore organize construction drawings by page number and store all documents and revisions under one master set. The most up-to-date version is automatically brought to view, ensuring project teams don't work off of inaccurate drawings.

Teams are able to see all versions -- what changes have been made and by whom -- and managers are able to review the project change history, providing insight and knowledge for future projects. Users can also redline drawings with markups and annotations that are automatically synced to the rest of the team. User can even communicate with each other through the drawings sets by directly attaching photos, RFIs, or punch list items onto the drawing.

Even with limited interaction, these real time as-builts allow subcontractors to communicate with the project manager about the up to date drawing or project schedule instantaneously. This increases productivity and ensures all team members are connected and on the same page.

Increased mobilization

It may seem redundant as almost all of today's communication is done remotely with FaceTime, Skype and GoToMeeting, but construction teams not only need to communicate via conversation, but through contracts -- RFIs, submittals, and change orders -- or documentation-reliant communication. Therefore, these documents need to be accessible anywhere, at any time, and on any device, for project communication to be successful.

As cloud-based solutions continue to solidify their importance in the construction industry, teams need to stay on top of the latest technology to maximize their efficiency and productivity and remain profitable. Embracing construction software programs like Procore allow companies to access all components of a project in real time. All data from bidding to closeout is archived, accessible, tracked, and secure within the software.

Software automates communication processes and workflows, creating a central hub for real time project information. The files the project team needs to get their job done are no longer on a single in-house server or on a lost thumb drive. Instead, this data is stored securely in the cloud -- ready to be used and shared by all team members from any mobile device.

A single repository with 24/7 accessibility from any location gives entire teams access to any and all project information whenever they need it. Whether in the office, at home, on the road, or on a remote jobsite, the mobility of cloud-based platforms puts real time project data at the fingertips of the entire team -- data is never more than a click or swipe away. Now teams can answer questions and make vital decisions based on accurate data, not intuition -- increasing productivity and minimizing risk.

This real time data archive also provides facility owners unrivaled insight into the progress and health of every project in their portfolio every step of the way, no matter where they are. This transparency enhances accountability as it forces all team members to take responsibility for their tasks and meet deadlines. Cloud-based software also allows project managers to track if anyone has failed to view the most recent set of plans, further enforcing all users to be on the same page and schedule.

Construction spending will inevitably increase and contractors and project managers will need to continue leveraging new technologies to stay ahead of their competition. Implementing cloud-based construction project management software solutions that offer mobile capabilities will help to better project estimates and enforce the project schedule, will improve office-field communication and organization, and predictably save time, cut costs and maximize resources. This will increase transparency and communication across the business, reduce risk and make companies more profitable as a whole.

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Submitted by Procore Technologies Inc.

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