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Using the Cloud’s Latest Technologies for Data Integrity, Security, and Scheduling

Training and digital safeguards are key for users’ success

Lauren Collier, Associate AIA

The architectural/engineering/construction (AEC) industry has an opportunity to catch up with other industries in adapting to technology. As companies within the industry look to move to cloud computing and storage, they need to adapt their view of cloud technology advantages and aim to optimize utilization. The cloud is simply the internet with all of the servers that can be accessed remotely instead of from a company’s computer hard drive storage.

Cloud tools
With the AEC industry just starting to use cloud-based technology, firm leaders are only just beginning to understand all the collaborative possibilities of cloud-based tools. 
SSOE

Begin fostering change through an A/E champion.  Theres a mountain of resources available advising people on how to change their personal behavior. But what inspires people to make a change?  One source of motivation is recognizing the value and benefit that would result from the change. This is critically true in adapting technology for employees in the workplace. 

To get buy-in to use new technology, it is the A/E leaders who are the best champions.  They have the ability to clearly articulate why the data computing and storage changes will be valuable for both short and long-term. And, as employees understand the value, buy-in naturally follows.  Designating an A/E leader to serve in the role of raising awareness of automation, the benefits of data, and technology can be far more convincing than the presentation by a tech person attempting to fulfill this role.

Even if employees are interested in adopting automation for compiling data, they may be unable to complete tasks, due to inexperience or lack of training. Many employees dont fully understand the technology they use or dont realize that a solution already exists and is available to them. When the leader/champion can convince employees to engage, even briefly, in one-on-one training about the applicable tech, the training pays significant dividends, especially in reducing inefficiency. 

Experts gain comfort through training and test piloting.  With the AEC industry just starting to use cloud-based technology, firm leaders are only just beginning to understand all the collaborative possibilities of cloud-based tools. One of the best ways to learn and gain comfort with technology is via training, followed by a champion encouraging experimentation and test piloting.              

One of the great benefits of the cloud for all industries is the facilitation of collaboration. For example, cloud-based Building Information Modeling (BIM) has collaboration tools, yet many AEC professionals are not clear about how to use or optimize them. Rather than experimenting with the technology to gain comfort, people often hold back because theyre afraid theyll do something wrong and create a security problem. To fully incorporate cloud-based technology such as BIM, firms need to create adequate governance and effective training programs, so employees feel comfortable experimenting with the technology.

At the same time, leaders can provide confidence to employees by enhancing their cybersecurity measures.  These days, every industry, including AEC, must be aware of cybersecurity and be hyper-vigilant to protect its data. With the significant amount of intellectual property in the AEC industry, if leaked to the internet, such a breach would have significant implications.  Training employees on effective cybersecurity measures will help them feel confident that the company’s digital assets will be safeguarded. Employees will understand they cannot unintentionally create a security problem. 

collaboration
One of the great benefits of the cloud for all industries is the facilitation of collaboration. 
SSOE

Maintaining data integrity.  Data, data, data: A/E professionals want data because they see it offers value.  To make data useful and to apply machine learning, AEC firms need to have sufficient data.         

So, data integrity is essential to gain the most value from data. In addition, data needs to be accurate and well-structured if a firm hopes to draw meaningful conclusions. Once again this comes back to employees buying in and taking the time to generate quality data that is useful for analysis. Although this may mean more work as processes are developed, the time spent will ultimately be beneficial and improve the process.        

One way to capture useful data from busy employees is to establish a business analyst presence. With the addition of this role, the analyst engages with the processes and watches people work, so employees can take less time away from their main duties. Instead, the analyst determines what currently works and what could become automated to generate useful data.

Improving scheduling with the latest technologies.  For projects requiring a high volume of work with high-velocity expectations, good communication, centralization, and organization of information are necessary to keep pace and meet such expectations.       

Imagine trying to meet these demands without one central scheduling component.  By utilizing a cloud-based centralized scheduling component, a team gains multiple benefits. Every team member can be clear on their responsibilities for each project(s) they are working on and when they must have their work completed. Having everything in one centralized location also helps make sequencing clearer since the information is clearly laid out. Cloud-based scheduling adds agility as it empowers firms to more easily adjust when necessary. 

cloud
For projects requiring a high volume of work with high-velocity expectations, good communication, centralization, and organization of information are necessary to keep pace and meet such expectations.
SSOE

A firm can also use centralized scheduling as a resource planning tool to estimate upcoming work. Because its all part of the same software package, the tool allows firms to easily transition estimations into actual plans that sync with their schedules. Submittals and requests for proposals can still be kept in the singular database to give a firm a snapshot view of all its current projects and concerns.

Cloud technology has much to offer the AEC industry. While firms need to invest in the technology, it will be beneficial only if frontline employee leaders recognize and champion the benefits and engage in the necessary processes for their employees’ success.

Lauren Collier, Associate AIA, is the Director, Project Technology and Senior Associate at SSOE Group, an internationally ranked architecture and engineering firm. Her creative passion lies in Lean, continuous improvements, and innovative model/data use solutions for design and construction operations. Lauren leads a diverse group of VDC technology leaders, software DevOps, and model managers whose focus is on implementing new and innovative technologies, processes, and best practices in design and construction. She can be reached in SSOE’s Toledo, OH office at 419-255-3830 or at lauren.collier@ssoe.com.