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Construction Operations: Field and Office Silos February 6, 2013

Posted by carolhagen in BIM, construction accounting software, Construction Industry - Software, Document Imaging.
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Construction Technology has managed to move faster in the last 5 years than in the past 100 with innovation in Operations, communications and collaboration leading the way. This pace will continue as construction project managers find the tools they learned about in college are replaced within 10 years of graduation. There’s something new everyday that makes us work smarter but in this process, silos have crept in. This is particularly noticeable between preconstruction to operations and finance, and from field to office.

Construction Silo Solution
In an article from Construction Business Owner, “Silos: Great for Grain, Not so Great for Business” the solution was stated articulately “…business silos are not simple structures – they are supported by technology and processes. So the way to break down the business silos would seem straightforward – combine the technologies and link the processes that are used in the office and field silos.” So what have you been doing to combine your BIM, project management, collaboration, document management, mobile communications and the construction finance department together?

Construction Technology Challenges
Perhaps your vendors aren’t thinking strategically enough as your contracting firm prepares for the economic surge created by the pent up demand of the recession. Your systems may work well separately but have you found the integrations to be cumbersome or even lacking? Every disconnect causes inefficiencies and added costs. Lack of communications and access to up-to-date information can have a significant impact to your bottom line.

Integration Approach
Third Party integrations seem to have been popular in the 90s as software developers worked diligently to share data. As technology progressed, smart firms offered Software Development Kits (SDK) and introduced Applications Programming Interfeces (API) to help seamlessly share data across systems. The XML standard started gaining traction as the Associated General Contractors of America and COBie made a push for better collaborative solutions. Specializing and doing one thing well is great as you remain focused and innovative. Those that ventured out in developing their own solutions in areas with little or no expertise have paid the price as valuable resources and talent were robbed from their core competencies to create mediocre solutions in the chase to fulfill the needs of field operations, preconstruction and collaboration.

Enterprise Resource Planning
Most ERP solutions today have grown up in a general business environment and added modules to address construction across department and divisions. So what’s a growning innovative construction firm to do when they have a mix of legacy or disconnected systems? I’ll admit I’m biased. As a Business Development Partner for Viewpoint Construction Software I’ve watch strategic acquisitions occur that not only bring teams of focused talent but leverage economies of scale. The approach has been when a critical mass of customers needs a solution that would take years to develop, find the best solution with the best talent and a culture match and either partner or acquire.

Document Management
Last year Viewpoint acquired Construction Imaging (CI) addressing the needs of document control, imaging, capture, workflow, and records retention. CI has integrations with many of the top construction accounting and project management software vendors and it is still providing solutions to contractors wanting to achieve a paperless office while leveraging existing in place systems.

Mobility and Partnerships
Recently Viewpoint acquired ACS Connect to address the needs of the Mobile Field Manager while also welcoming eSub to the Software Development Partners Program. They join a growing community of construction industry focused solutions including: AboutTime, BirdDog, ComData, Cosential, Eathwave Technologies, MJobTime, and SmartBidNet. Integrations are important for specialized solutions but sometime acquisitions can vault a firm into the lead.

Strategic Aquisition
Today, the big announcement at Viewpoint was another acquisition, 4Projects, which brings project controls, procurement, Construction design Management and BIM in a browser all in a SAAS model (cloud computing purity for scalable deployment for one project or many). In time, the integration of Viewpoint V6 and 4Projects will blend. Watch what 4Projects does now and come back to see what Viewpoint will do next.

If your construction system has silos and you’re tired of duplication of effort, Email Me Now!

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