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Construction Software Partly Cloud(y) May 28, 2010

Posted by carolhagen in construction accounting software, Construction Industry - Software, estimating, project management software.
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Cloud ComputingCloud computing at its basic level is accessing applications and data solely via the internet. No extra hardware or software needed, just a web browser and internet connection from your PC, smartphone or iPad. If you don’t need to backup, load updates, have a server or need full-time IT staff to keep it going, why isn’t everything in the cloud already?

Cloud Computing Perceptions: Speed, Security and Trust

Bandwidth is similar to a highway. It’s the infrastructure that connects everyone. If you have two lanes and 100 cars merging from one ramp their’s a traffic jam. It slows everything at that location to a crawl. Get a T1 or T3 line and be there alone…it’s lightening fast and you never wait. Back in my college days it was time-sharing and modem speeds of 1200 baud. Now we want live video streaming and instant access. While the major metro areas have availability, there are challenges where contractors work…the edges of the grid as cities expand. So the rule is as our cell service is so goes our connectivity and speed. Travel to a more rural area and there are still few choices with the only “high” speed option is satellite. Now I live in the Phoenix metro area so for me I’m good with bandwidth.

Another issue with speed is the platform design of the application. There are many mature software systems that did not start on the Internet and their cloud offering is actually a patchwork. This occurs frequently to computer software. Today’s programming language is tomorrows legacy. Try rewriting a million lines of code so it is .NET Framework 3.5 and you’ll understand that longevity of application is not an advantage but a burden. Some firms offer web collaboration but they still sell and maintain their legacy systems installed on their customer’s servers. And every customer is indirectly paying to keep the non-cloud based systems maintained and supported.

Security is what’s the track record and how much have I been influenced by the “disaster” stories the news has reported. With cloud access can’t someone steal my password and access my information? If their servers fail how long has it been since their last backup? With critical systems like email in the cloud can I afford to be down when gmail is attacked and aren’t the cloud systems more open to attacks? My answer is it depends. Who is your cloud service with? Is it a Tier 1 site, SAS 70 compliant and continually providing co-location of your data?

If you are considering cloud computing there are plenty to pick from put choosing wisely may be looking at the specific area of specialty. Here are a few I see the construction industry embracing:

MyAccountingCloud – offering the full slate of all Intuit Quickbooks Solutions including Quickbooks for Contractors, without sacrificing any features. What’s intriguing is that they host Intuit products better that Intuit does and are based here in Phoenix.

HighRise and Salesforce – customer relationship management has been in the cloud extensively and Salesforce has been a marketing engine. HighRise is also a contender from 37Signals as they promote software that’s easy. Both solutions have their advantages, offer many 3rd party add-ons and have smartphone apps to keep you connected at all times.

Corecon – provides estimating and project management for the construction industry. Corecon has lead tracking, estimating, invitation to bid collaboration, buy-out, scheduling, project documentation, detailed job costing, dashboards and tight integration to Quickbooks and SAP Business One, Corecon’s not only something to consider but a solution that my firm offers.

SmartBidNet – for the mid-sized to large general contractor this is a robust bid invitation and bid management system. With a prequalification module, and integration to on-line takeoff and estimating systems, its a great add-on to your existing technology solutions.

After you’ve looked at these solutions we’d like you to comment on your findings so the construction industry can stay informed and we can continue to provide free information. Please bookmark our site so you can post a comment later or if you already have experience with these, post a comment now. I appreciate it!

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