Integrated Cloud Computing

April 06, 2011

General contractors are turning to cloud computing to improve operations by integrating processes into a single solution, while minimizing IT investment and maximizing security. Since the speed and complexity of owning a construction company has not slowed down just because the economy has, an integrated workflow solution can mean the difference between surviving and thriving.

A number of technology providers are offering their solutions in the cloud in order to give construction companies flexibility and scalability. But what about optimizing the cloud in field-service organizations?

This morning, Trimble, www.trimble.com, Sunnyvale, Calif., announced a new cloud-based field service work management solution to manage fleet productivity, providing on-demand visibility into vehicle and mobile worker productivity.

Sumair Dutta, senior research analyst, Aberdeen Group, www.aberdeen.com, Boston, Mass., says research shows nearly 50% of field-service organizations look to establish better visibility into their field resources as a way to drive effective scheduling and boost overall service productivity.

Leveraging a cloud-based environment allows organizations of all sizes to easily deploy scheduling and dispatch solutions without the upfront costs, according to Trimble.

Another recent example comes from Viewpoint Construction Software, www.viewpointcs.com, Portland, Ore., which now offers a software package aimed at small-to-mid-sized GCs (general contractors) with annual revenues less than $25 million, who are looking for a subscription-based solution and a lower total cost of ownership.

Because integration with other solutions is also key, the company says its solution works with third-party products and systems for estimating, remote time entry, and equipment tracking, among others.

The new Viewpoint V6 Fast Track program is cloud-based, eliminating up-front investments such as licensing fees and the need to purchase server and desktop systems. The fully managed cloud solution offers construction-specific software that integrates accounting, payroll, job costing, and project management, to name a few.

The solution can improve cash flow by providing tools for accurate invoicing. Also, by providing visibility into projects GCs can address issues quickly and efficiently. When GCs have the ability to communicate job progress and complete projects on time, they can more effectively manage subcontractors and impress project owners.

One point to keep in mind in today’s industry is a technology solution’s ability to scale up or down based on industry fluctuations. Viewpoint markets scalability as one of its product’s strong points. Viewpoint V6 Fast Track also helps streamline reporting by offering nearly 600 predefined reports, database templates, a standard chart of accounts, and phase codes.

Today more than ever, it is important to look at dollars and cents. Cloud-based solutions not only appeal to construction professionals by requiring a reduced up-front investment, but also in the long run by minimizing IT costs for maintaining the solution. Plus, cloud-based workflow solutions that can streamline business processes cut back on time investments while increasing collaboration and accuracy.