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.

Posted by Samantha Biever

Samantha grew up visiting her dad on job sites, which sparked her initial interest in construction. After graduating with honors from George Fox University, she pursued this interest by becoming the Marketing Specialist at Viewpoint where she enjoys being part of a team that is transforming the construction industry.

  • Andrew Karr

    Some customer are finding cloud alternatives much easier to manage than on-prem options due to the reduction is infrastructure needs

  • Ariel Davis

    I would agree that cloud based technology has made it easier for my employer to allow us to work in the field or from home. It’s something I truly appreciate!

  • Marc Muzzo

    Moving our Spectrum database to the cloud has eliminated a lot of maintenance work for our IT department, as well as eliminated the need for weekend upgrades of the Spectrum software.

    • Samantha Biever

      Hi there Marc! I’m so glad to hear that your company has experienced success moving to the cloud. That is our hope for all of our customers. Thanks for taking the time to share this!

  • Diana Vaughn

    I agree with Ariel Davis. We are able to work from the field and from home much easier since going to the cloud!

  • Holli Virgil

    Thank you – this was real inspirational.

    • Samantha Biever

      Thanks Holli, I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  • Cheryl

    We are still debating this issue. Great article!

  • Teresa

    I would love to shift to the cloud and take advantage of the technology available to the construction industry. I think it would eliminate some of the issues we keep having, but unfortunately we are not ready for that yet as a company. There is quite a bit of resistance.

    • Samantha Biever

      Hi Teresa, thanks for your feedback on the post! I completely understand, the resistance you’re experiencing organizationally is expected and tech adoption can be nerve-wracking. I’ll continue to share stories about the companies that are benefiting from these new methods to help make the case for construction technology! In the mean time, maybe you or someone from your company would like to attend one of our upcoming roadshows? These are great opportunities to ask the difficult questions. You can click this link to check them out: https://viewpoint.com/info-resources/events/roadshows. Thanks again!

  • Training Capstone

    There is a lot of advantage available for tech savvy companies in construction. I am also fortunate to be with a company that recognizes the value added opportunities afforded by being at the forefront of tech. Resistance is FUTILE 🙂

  • Shannon J

    There are a lot of pros and cons. I am not sure where our company completely stands but I can see a lot of benifits of going on the cloud.

  • Carrie Lawson

    This is my first experience with being in the cloud for accounting software and i think it’s great. Allows a lot of flexiablity for everyone to gain access and it free up time for someone else to back and support the software.

  • Sean Heaton

    Being able to access files from the office, home, or parked on the side of the highway between jobsites makes all the difference in the world

  • Bridgette W

    I would like to see discussion on the cloud with a perspective from a company that has less than 50 employees.

  • Tracy Scott Rasmussen

    Being able to access the software from my laptop or iPad is a plus!

  • Erin Wood

    Definitely being able to access the info anywhere without having to go through a terminal server is probably the best for us so far!

  • Michelle Jones

    It’s so much easier to get information now that we have better technology for the superintendents. They don’t have to come into the office as often which reduces down time and keeps them on billable activities instead.

    • Samantha Biever

      Hi Michelle! Isn’t it amazing how much time you save with construction tech? I am so glad to hear that your company is taking advantage of those benefits. Thanks for taking the time to share this!

  • janice

    It is wonderful to read of all the progress, however, difficult to handle when company staff/personnel are not familiar with software, Excel or simply others and totally distrustful of internet and cloud. For example, paystub communication via email is not open for discussion because of the lack of faith in internet, IT support company and risk of identity theft. Salesmen skills in this arena would be helpful ! Perhaps a visit from a company with similar size that has adopted technology, would be helpful.

    • Samantha Biever

      Hi there Janice! I completely understand the resistance you’re experiencing in your organization. It is to be expected as tech adoption is no doubt a big change to make. Our sales team is awesome and they have a great understanding of the risks and rewards associated with this sort of change. If you’d like, you can reach out to someone on our sales team here: https://viewpoint.com/about/request-information. Or you can email me at samantha.biever@viewpoint.com so I can connect you directly with someone who can help. Thanks for taking the time to give your feedback on the post!

  • Joey O’Connor

    Thank you – Very informational. We are considering changing and this was helpful.

    • Samantha Biever

      Hi there Joey. Thanks for the feedback on this post, I’m glad you enjoyed it! Something else that could be helpful as you and your colleagues consider moving to the cloud is attending one of our Digital Contractor Roadshows. Attendance is complimentary and most folks who attend say these events have helped them get answers to the difficult questions about tech adoption. Here’s where you can check them out: https://viewpoint.com/info-resources/events/roadshows. Thanks again for taking the time to share your feedback!

  • Caleb

    Really good information. Working on implementation is always a challenge.

  • Matthew Lacey

    Very informative. Looking forward to how far we can take technology in the future.

  • A.J. Patel

    It seems like Viewpoint is on the right path. Our company is finally accepting cloud based solutions (security concerns) so hopefully we can leverage these new technologies.