• Kseniya Lukyanova

Current State of IT in Construction Business

The digital landscape is changing at an ever-increasing rate. The question for organizations is no longer whether they are going to digitize their workspace, but when they are going to keep up with and adapt to evolving technologies.

Information technologies of the organization serve the strategic goals of the business, are used to manage the activities of structures and objects, financial, information, material flows, jobs, and teams of people.

The demand for information and information services in the field of economics and management ensures the development, dissemination, and increasingly efficient use of information technology. The strategic goals of information technology are to ensure business development, its manageability and quality, competitiveness, and a reduction in the cost of performing business processes.

Unfortunately, there is no “one set” of solutions that meets the goals of every business; every industry has specific needs and requirements that must be met.

The use of IT in the construction industry is now beginning to expand rapidly. However, the construction industry appears to be making slow progress towards effective IT adoption.

The IT needs for the construction industry span a wide range of disciplines, from project management to procurement of building materials and computer drafting applications, to name just a few. There are several managed service providers that support this industry, but most midsize and small construction companies rely on in-house IT function as full-blown ERP systems like SAP are simply expensive and difficult to maintain. The existing ERP systems on the market are prohibitively high, just "implementation" in a particular company can cost them from 100 thousand euros and more. Technological solutions that can simplify administration and reduce the time load on day-to-day management tasks can pay off really quickly, but a growing company does not always have the resources to implement full-fledged ERP systems.

The use of IT in the construction industry in small and medium-sized businesses is still not as effective as in other industries. Often you have to use many different programs trying to create some kind of internal management and control system. One type of tooling software can solve one simple problem. They are not focused on project management in construction, so they cannot help in making decisions. Information communication remains weak and data exchange is not efficient enough.

Below is just a very incomplete list of a multitude of software titles mid-to-small Companies are employing for daily data processing. All of them are stand-alone systems that are not connected to each other. As the result, not only it occupies significant numbers of back-office staff forces double and triple data-entry but produces large quantities of error in documents that are being mislabeled and misplaced, and simply lost in myriads of directions on office file share. The primary tool is still Microsoft Excel, where no constraints can be enforced across multiple tracks of work within one particular project. It results in unhappy staff working on weekends to catch-up or fix something, lost revenues, and overall dissatisfaction. In other words, there is no end-to-end, cloud-based affordable solution to run a construction company.

Construction projects are clearly structured from the construction of a shopping center or a single-family house. They have a lot of moving parts and people that need to be precisely aligned and managed through the project lifecycle

Like any other project, construction project management consists of stages, from design to planning and scheduling to the construction itself. Each of these stages is quite difficult in itself, but together with the entire project, they become more complex exponentially.

If we look globally at the solutions that IT can provide for business in the construction industry, we can highlight the following areas:

  • Operational Efficiency - Nowadays, virtually every business is technology-dependent. Adequate IT support can ensure their reliability and prevent downtime and delays, which is a huge threat to the construction business.

  • Collaboration and Workflow - Modern IT solutions can bring your business to the cloud. All your programs and files will be accessible from anywhere and from any device, which is convenient for an extensive construction team. It also makes sharing and collaboration easier in real time.

  • Security - Every business should take cybersecurity seriously and the construction business is no exception. Data infection or leakage can destroy or steal all of your company's proprietary information. IT systems can keep you safe.

  • Data storage and management - construction firms produce and rely on large amounts of data. Project, client, and company files must be archived for decades; not to mention good organization and data leakage protection.

  • Communication - Swift communication has always ensured the success of any project, this is especially important in the construction industry, where one failure can be of great importance.

It is the abundance of various business processes that require automation that explains the lack of an acceptable software product for the construction industry on the ERP systems market and, accordingly, the overall low level of integrated automation among construction companies. It should be noted that for each individual business task, there are various solutions and automation options. Any construction company is gradually overgrown with computer programs that automate the work of various departments. The "double-entry problem" known in other industries here turns into a tenfold entry problem - the same data is entered into completely different programs that are not related to each other in any way. It is even difficult to estimate the labor costs and financial losses of the industry as a result of this state of affairs. Of course, as a way out of the situation, one could propose the integration of heterogeneous applications with each other.

With such an increased interest in the problem, both from the industry and from the manufacturers, there is every reason to believe that in the near future we can expect the emergence of fully functional monolithic and affordable solutions that will be able to satisfy the majority of construction companies.

Currently, Openix Solutions working on a project to create an end-to-end software solution to manage virtually all aspects of business related to construction, maintenance, workforce management, inventory, invoicing, and tracking everything else. We want to provide hard-working individuals with a simple and straightforward Mobile Application to capture all aspects of daily work and projects as Phase 1, transitioning to Enterprise-scale software Suite to cover all aspects of the Construction business in Phase 2.

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