Editor’s Note: This is part of a series highlighting real customer stories shared during our Digital Contractor Roadshow events.
Speaking From Experience: True Tales about Construction in the Cloud
Cloud-based software is changing the way construction companies operate. From allowing employees and managers alike to escape the trappings of the physical office to input and share data to expanding access to information and spurring collaboration across entire project teams, to eliminating unnecessary processes and driving up productivity, the cloud is proving its immediate benefits for contractors.
Despite the obvious benefits of using cloud-based software, many contractors have questions and concerns about the value of moving their construction companies to the cloud. How do cloud technologies actually transform construction companies? What are the benefits and drawbacks? What is the process of moving a construction company to the cloud?
We asked our customers these questions and more during our Digital Contractor Roadshow event in Philadelphia, Penn. a few weeks ago. During a special panel session with clients, Phil Weaver, Senior Director of IT at Warfel Construction, Dennis Sutton, CFO of C. Erickson and Sons and Conlan Swope, Vice President of Operations at Warfel Construction shared their answers directly with their peers in the industry about these relevant issues. Here are some highlights:
How well connected are your teams and processes today?
Weaver: Well technology plays a big part in helping keep our teams connected and really provides a collaborative framework or solution that arms our workforce. I think we’re in an amazing time right now for all the technology adoption for these types of solutions—leveraging cloud technology to implement quicker, integrate with more and manage with less. It’s a great time right now, from a technology perspective, so I think leveraging some of those opportunities and those technologies is certainly a step in the right direction and I feel that is what allows us to be a connected and synchronized project team.
Swope: I think Construction should be a highly-collaborative workspace. Oftentimes, we work in silos. But the use of technology forces us into more collaborative workflows, and it’s good to push that culture. But collaboration really is a culture you create or you avoid because we’re risk managers, really, and everyone’s looking to push away risk in the area, rather than embrace it.
What has been your experience with moving your company to the cloud?
Sutton: We actually completely do cloud on all of our services. About two and a half years ago, we went to a virtual desktop, just to collaborate with everything in one area. As everybody knows in the room, construction’s always been very siloed, so it’s like, “okay, I’m using this for time capture, I’m using this for accounting, I’m using this for payroll,” using all separate tools and processes for construction software. We are just trying to keep everything in one area.
With all the Millennials coming up, as you know, they like to work from home. So actually, our phone system is voiceover IP so we can work anywhere. I can be at my house in New Jersey or at a job site. As long as we have an Internet connection somewhere, we can get to our desktop. We are just trying to make it a little bit easier for all of our employees to connect without interrupting their workflow and their lifestyle, quite honestly, because we’re a company that doesn’t like to bother our employees at night or on the weekends. We value family life, and if we can make it easier for everyone involved, we try to go in that direction.
Swope: With technology and moving to the cloud or a more collaborative workspace, a lot of us really don’t want to embrace the risk that’s there. How do we embrace that risk as a team in order to best deliver our projects?
And so, technology, whether it be Vista, Spectrum, whatever it might be, is a space that puts us in a common work area, and that’s not something that existed before. So, I think there’s a lot of opportunities that exist there still because we should be more collaborative in the construction industry, and truthfully, we’re not there yet. We have a lot of growth to move forward through in the next couple of decades here, and technology really is going to be the platform that does that.
How is technology helping your company to transform?
Weaver: I feel like I’m very fortunate to be part of a company that really does understand the value that technology and innovation can really provide. So strictly from a technical perspective, we’ve successfully executed a lot of initiatives over the past several years, all the way from a complete data-center overhaul to standardization of devices to a lot of hardware and software solutions and services.
Swope: I would just say that a part of technology advancing forward in a company is that you have to go all in. So many people just kind of waddle on whether they should move forward or not. You need to be willing to fail at some decisions along the way and analyze very quickly. Have metrics of success to know whether that you need to pull the plug, you need to revamp or enhance. But I see so many that continue to sit on the fence—not sure whether they should jump over into a cloud-based platform or a new partner, or how they’re going to integrate with the existing technology if it’s there. And truthfully, you can put as many dollar signs and figures on a spreadsheet to figure out the cost-benefit analysis that you want, and you’re not really going to know until you step out into it. I know we’ve had a couple failed experiments that we were able to analyze and realize this is a failure. We need to step back and either revamp the process or we need to look at a different product to deliver a solution.
There are a lot of different tools out there to pull into a technology portfolio, and really, if you want to find what that real core set is for your organization, you have to be willing to try. The great thing with Viewpoint is having an open API to be able to bring in a lot of information, whether it be Spreadsheet Server, Keystyle or others. The beauty of Viewpoint is the customization that exists within the system to help with that, but also being able to pull in that other information to make you more mobile and agile in the field. That is really one of the benefits of having an ERP like this. So, I’ll say Vista was the core decision for us, but the ability to be able to add in technology as we saw fit there was a real benefit to us about eight years ago, when we stepped over from Maxwell.
To learn more about moving your construction company to the cloud and how Viewpoint can partner with you to transform your construction company by connecting your office, team and field, visit our website: www.viewpoint.com.