by ALISA BANKS SNYDER, Procore
This article was originally published to the Procore blog on March 08, 2016.
As construction companies become increasingly reliant upon data storage and the need to streamline operations in the face of rising competition, owners must carefully weigh the considerations between using Software as a Service or an on-premise data server. While there are a few benefits for hosting data in-house, cloud-based software solutions offer many more financial and operational advantages for construction firms of all sizes.
However, in an article by Constructor Magazine, JBKnowledge Technologies surveyed 450 construction firms and discovered that while 70 percent of these companies utilized cloud-based computing, they used it on a limited basis and only 6.5 percent took advantage of the associated apps for mobile devices. By replacing their closets full of costly and delicate hard drives with a network of remote virtual servers connected to almost any mobile device, construction firms can experience a significant return on investment in several different quantifiable and qualitative metrics.
Cost Advantages of Using the Cloud
No factor influences decisions more than cost advantages. Given the current labor-shortage epidemic combined with a global economic slowdown, construction companies need to find every possible way to optimize operations and boost profit margins. Implementing an intuitive cloud-based construction software solution provides an easy and affordable way to cut costs and increase efficiency.
Although the hardware necessary to host large amounts of data on in-premise servers has diminished over time, it is still a constant budgetary drain, in both tangible and intangible measures. First, construction companies must account for the direct costs associated with regular upgrades in technology and in-house IT support. The ever-evolving nature of technology, combined with persistent depreciation, means constructions firms must keep up with the non-stop advancements or lose their competitive edge..
Second, on-premise data servers require a team of dedicated staff members to build, maintain, secure, repair, and upgrade the system, all without causing any equipment downtime, data corruption, or operational glitches. This typically involves creating or expanding an entire department within the company, along with the associated responsibilities, such as contributing to employee benefits and paying additional payroll taxes.
Further, as BetaNews notes, running large data servers 24/7 with back-up and multiple sets of hard drives consumes a significant portion of a company's electricity costs. Using a cloud-based software solution instead of on-premise servers also allows constructions companies to remove the need to worry about any of these issues, each of which can be time-consuming and costly.
Mobile, Real-time Access
One of the biggest advantages of using Software as a Service over an on-site server is the mobility and real-time access provided by the cloud. For construction companies that must rely on supervising multiple job sites, each with their own unique specifications and subcontractors, having the ability to upload an RFI to a single repository accessible by all relevant parties means each individual gains instantaneous access to this information. However, project managers can still place individual role-based permission levels on specific workers, protecting confidential information but allowing the PM oversee tasks and delegate duties to subcontractors at any location, while still being able to track the progress toward completion. This accessibility advantage also boosts collaborative engagement amongst everyone involved, from the C Suite to the architects, engineers, and e field teams.
Added Security Features
In this troubling world of hackers and cybercriminals, nothing is more important than protecting the sensitive information that comprises the backbone of your company. While data breaches in construction companies might not make the headlines like some of the other big-name businesses, such as Target or Sony, the unfortunate fact is that they're still vulnerable to cybercrimes. As Construction Business Owner noted, data corruption, cyber ransom, and employee theft of confidential billing, payroll, and client information remain constant threats to construction companies.
With cybercriminals constantly upgrading their means of attack, hosting all of this sensitive information in on-premise servers leaves data vulnerable to a breach, hack, or corruption at any time. Fortunately, by utilizing a cloud-based software solution, construction companies can patch up these security flaws to mitigate much of the exposure to cybercrime.
Many hosting facilities used by cloud-storage companies are also built to survive natural and manmade disasters, with advanced biometric security controls further alleviating the risks sometimes associated with data centers. And with their multiple sources of storage and robust backup systems, cloud-based data servers provide much-needed protections against data corruption. In addition, in case of any potential legal action, owners can rest assured knowing they won't lose any communications, contracts, or other important documents that might make or break a lawsuit.