While the federal government has not announced any guidelines on construction during the coronavirus pandemic, many state and local governments have issued their own regulations. However, despite the fact most states have implemented a “stay-at-home” order excluding construction workers, there’s no denying construction projects are slowing down, on standby mode, or completely shut down.
According to the Association for General Contractors of America, 27 percent of construction firms reported coronavirus-related layoffs. In addition, the firms responding to the Association survey that said they have been ordered to stop or completely cancel projects by their clients jumped to 55 percent.
The impact of the coronavirus has forced many companies to work remotely. Unfortunately, most project-based companies, also known as Project Businesses, are not equipped to do so. Of course, it is understood that construction work requires a hands-on approach; however, that’s not to say there isn’t a need be able to work and manage projects remotely.
The fact is, Project Businesses are not set up to take advantage of the cloud. Unlike traditional business industries where it’s much easier to apply technology to standardized processes and data in order to automate and accelerate production, it’s not so easy with Project Businesses with their unique products and non-standard business practices.
IDENTIFY THE ISSUES
Most Project Businesses operate within a host of disparate tools and applications to run their entire business (e.g., project management, time and expense, project accounting, ERP, and lots of spreadsheets). In addition, they spend a lot of time, money, and resources trying to manually translate, consolidate, and validate large amounts of project data from these multiple solutions. On top of that, many of these applications are not cloud-ready, meaning they may not be accessible remotely, or the applications and files could be sitting on someone’s desktop, inaccessible from the rest of the company.
And while this fragmented setup means these companies have no way to integrate, share, and present that data in these remote working conditions, it also means project managers and executives do not have real-time visibility into the status of their projects. This disparate landscape leads to mistakes and delays, which can cause important business decisions to be made based on outdated and unreliable information.
What should construction companies do now?
Where do you start and how should you move to the cloud? If you replicate your fragmented environment in the cloud, you’ll have the same problem, just in a different place. Construction companies need to rethink their cloud strategy. To benefit from the cloud, you need to consolidate your multiple point solutions into one, end-to-end cloud system. This approach maximizes the value of the cloud not only by reducing overhead costs to manage individual applications, but you can eliminate them altogether.
PROJECT BUSINESS AUTOMATION
Moving to the cloud represents an opportunity for construction companies to unify their organization by integrating all the project functionality normally managed in disparate applications into one, end-to-end Project Business system. This is a new concept called Project Business Automation (PBA).
PBA standardizes, integrates, and automates all Project Business processes and data. With this structure, PBA can produce time-phased operational and financial threshold data, giving construction companies the ability to run their projects with real-time visibility and control over processes, costs, and risks. This will allow project managers and executives to determine if any projects are running late or over budget and can mean the difference between low and high profitability. Let’s face it, being able to anticipate and respond to changing market conditions can make and save you a lot of money.
Implementing a project-based cloud solution not only creates the data structure necessary to operate like a well-oiled machine, but enables your employees to collect, share, and analyze the right data, at the right time. When your project plan is the central entity against which a host of other operational activities are planned and managed, you need to make it central to your business system strategy. With this approach, you will be able to make better business decisions faster and improve the overall productivity of your company.
By the time we get through this pandemic and on the other side, the way we do business will never be the same, and the reboot to normalcy will demand more than business as usual. Project Businesses need to prepare now. Take this time as an opportunity to restructure your organization and data processes in a way that allows you to efficiently and effectively work, collaborate, and manage your projects in times of crisis now and in the future.
The temporary pause forced upon us by COVID-19 presents a narrow, but unprecedented opportunity to make bold moves. In good times when business is humming along, making the move to an integrated cloud system might be seen as disruptive and put on the back burner. Now companies have the chance to make that move quickly and set themselves up for success on the other side of this.
Editor’s Note: What has your experience been using an integrated cloud-based system? If not currently using a software solution, do you have plans to update your operational technology? Email me at email@example.com.
Look for answers to this question and more in the next issue of MCS.
About the author
Daniel Bévort is the founder and CEO of Adeaca, a specialized Microsoft industry partner focused primarily on the development of new business processes and systems for project-based companies. For more, visit www.adeaca.com.
Modern Contractor Solutions, May 2020
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