The global construction industry is in a perpetual state of change. As the global market shifts and traditional practices change, firms too slow to adapt will inevitably be left behind. As technology develops, the industry is taking steps to improve its fragmented structure, inconsistent construction practices, and its lingering dependence on outdated paper-based communication processes. Historically, firms have been slow to make the change. That’s why it’s vital the modern construction firm stays up-to-date with the newest and most effective software and design tools. Google Apps is a cloud-based productivity suite that helps people connect and work efficiently anywhere in the world with an internet connection. The full potential of Google Apps for the global construction industry is still being explored, but the key aims of the system are:
- To enable growth through real-time collaborations.
- To streamline communication through the use of a single document shared between relevant parties.
- To enhance communication and enable firms to collaborate and communicate from multiple locations.
- To provide search capabilities for previous email correspondence.
Google Apps offers a range of advantages over the traditional software suite, allowing construction firms to focus on delivering exceptional projects whilst enabling them to keep pace in one of the most competitive sectors on earth.
Mobility is a vital attribute in any industry that requires successfully maintaining contact with clients and colleagues. This is particularly true in construction where people have to be onsite but want to continue interacting with people in the office. With the video function of Google Hangouts, you can raise construction issues and show video evidence in real time. This also means visualisations can be transferred quickly and efficiently, meaning issues can be resolved at the time they arise. Construction work can also entail significant travel time between site and office, or overseas. Google Hangouts and the collaborative capabilities of the other Google Apps makes communication and collaboration from anywhere in the world easier and more efficient.
Construction often requires team leaders and foremen to complete documents in the field. With traditional software, this means carrying excessive amounts of paperwork to the site to keep track of new developments. Google Apps stores all of this information on the Cloud, making it easily accessible to colleagues and relevant authorities. It also makes the transfer of large image files (a daily occurrence in the global construction industry) easier, safer and less time-consuming. Colleagues can place large files on the Drive, meaning there is only one copy and only the appropriate people have access. Because multiple users can edit documents at the same time, ideas can be shared, discussed and decided upon there and then. In this way, Google Apps ensures every stage of the design process is truly collaborative, from design to bid management, all on one integrated platform.
Because all files are shared via the Drive, any alterations, edits or additions to a file will happen in real time. The Drive also allows you to receive notifications whenever someone makes an edit. This allows you to keep up to date with all the latest news, opportunities and designs, no matter where you are in the world. If an alteration needs to be made to a floor-plan during the construction process, using Google Apps in conjunction with your design software means everyone with access to the design will see the update in real-time; preventing confusion, mistakes or discrepancies further down the line.
Google Apps works across a range of devices and browsers, allowing you to keep in contact with colleagues and clients even if your own device is down. Because Google Apps can function on mobile devices, tablets, laptops and PC’s, you can keep your projects on track even if you’re travelling light or don’t have access to traditional computing devices. This means even if your design team uses Apple software and your operations team use Windows-based software, both can access, edit and share the same documents through Google Apps.
Cost-saving in the global construction industry
Even with all the innovations Google Apps provides for the construction industry, Google Apps for business can still save, on average, 50% of IT costs compared to firms using Microsoft 365. Add this to the time and effort saved by using Google Apps in comparison to traditional proprietary software and the savings are even greater. Firms can make further savings by eliminating the need for call-outs for hardware engineering issues, with all data now stored in the Cloud and available 24-7. Google Apps is such an effective cost-saver, it can free up your IT team to focus on hardware issues and on developing your company’s technological capabilities further.
Unlimited Cloud storage
The very nature of the global construction industry means firms regularly share documents, tenders, images, renders and other communications. All of this sharing inevitably eats into a company’s internal storage system, forcing staff to prioritise information and delete potentially valuable communications. Google Apps comes with unlimited Cloud storage, freeing companies up to focus on finding new opportunities, maintaining regular client communication and ensuring every project is completed on time and on-budget. Because Gmail allows you to navigate all your documents and emails with intelligent filters, information can be found with minimum time and effort, further streamlining internal and external processes.
Security in the global construction industry
Security is a major issue for any firm. It’s vital every firm can be confident that all data and communications are protected. Features like the sync & sharing controls alert workers when they try to share a file with someone outside the registered company database, ensuring data can’t be leaked outside the company accidently. Likewise, Google’s encryption feature ensures all work is regularly backed up and encrypted, even whilst travelling.
With app and domain whitelisting, all communications, domains, emails and IP addresses associated with the company are visible and always allowed to the appropriate people. Because each email is registered to a range of devices, any suspicious activity (for instance signing in from a new device) will result in a company admin acquiring a suspicious login notification, further strengthening the systems security. In addition to these features, Google Apps also allows network administrators to delete data from lost or stolen devices, protecting data from falling into the wrong hands. Add in Google’s world-class security, dedicated to protecting all data on the cloud, and you have one of the most secure networks in the world.
Increased accountability and verifiable input
An often neglected but infinitely useful feature of the Google Apps, the sign-in system means all data input can be traced back to the individual user. In turn, this allows management to receive performance reports which can be immediately audited, as well as providing an extra level of accountability to tasks. The software logs what time people open files, what they’ve done and who was online at the time. It also keeps a record of all work previously kept on the file. This has the added benefit of allowing staff to recover previous work in the ‘Edit History’ section if necessary. Google Apps also gives IT managers increased control over the system, streamlining company operations and consolidating responsibility to a specific authority.
Google Apps isn’t just a viable alternative to traditional software suites like Microsoft, it’s the next logical step for the global construction industry as a whole. It’s only by adapting and keeping pace with the latest advances in technology that firms can hope to stay afloat in an ever evolving market.