Construction & The Cloud

David Moyer
03-21-2022 6:27 PM Comment(s)

Is the construction industry really ready for cloud basedapplications?

The movement of software applications to cloud services comes with many advantages; improved scalability, less IT overhead, able to easily work anywhere you can find an internet connection, and more frequent application updates / enhancements. In most cases Cloud solutions even allow a company to take advantage of their existing hardware. However, there could be one big “gotcha” that you need to get an answer to before you cut the check for a cloud solution. The question is, “how do you get access to your project data”?

You see, being a contractor means you are also in the data creation business. Think about all the data that accumulates on a project, from the time the project is nothing more than an idea, to the point where the project is turned over to the client. It used to be that design documents, RFI’s, submittals, transmittals, estimates, schedules, purchases orders, meeting minutes, just to name of few, were all stored on your premises. In other words, you owned it, you stored it, and you had access to it, 24/7. 

When your construction data and applications are both hosted off premise, that means your data is not on your servers. The data is typically located on cloud service providers, most likely on Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services. That being the case, it then begs the question; has the software provider provided a method for you to download your data, query your data, report on your data, and build integrations from your data to other software applications? If the answer to these questions is “no”, then buyer beware. What happens if you ever stop using the application, have you lost all your data?

If the software provider has given you access to your data, then the next question is, do they charge an extra fee for that access? If they do, that’s a bit odd, after all, it’s your data. Long story short, you would do well to ask the following questions when evaluating any cloud services application:

1.  Can we query our data, 24/7, whenever we want?

2.  Can we download our project data whenever we want?

3.  Is the data reportable by 3rd party reporting tools?

4.  Is there an additional charge to get to our data?

5.  Is your data ever crowd sourced or shared with any other vendors?

Remember, these are questions you want answers to before you cut the check!

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David Moyer