Cloud software is a remotely hosted platform accessible via the internet. Instead of running software on your computer, you may simply open an app to access data or run programs hosted by a third party. Using the cloud allows you to access your project management and accounting software from anywhere.
This ease of use and global availability has lead to the ubiquity of the cloud. According to a 2017 survey of nearly 1,300 companies, a staggering 85 percent of construction contractors are either currently using or plan to use cloud-based solutions. Meanwhile, the market for cloud software is expected to grow by $1 billion between now and 2020. Cloud-based platforms are more appealing than hosting project management software because they do not require users to rely on their own computing power. There are quite a few other benefits to consider if you're thinking of adopting a cloud solution for your AEC firm.
The cloud-based approach means you do not have to purchase a costly professional software license, pay IT professionals to manage the software and invest in hardware to run the software. Instead, a cloud provider charges a flat monthly fee for the services you need. This fee covers the project management platform, the hosting service, and tech support. This makes advanced project management platforms more accessible to small AEC firms or even professionals who work independently.
2. Safety and Data Loss Prevention
Did you know that even a small data mishap could cost you anywhere between $18,000 and $35,000? In addition to the intrinsic cost, you may also face the loss of important project data, setting you back weeks or months. Switching to the cloud is an excellent risk management strategy, since the vendor can automatically back up your data at a secure off-site location. And because these companies offer their services on a large scale, they invest in up-to-date security for your sensitive data.
3. Easy Installation and Maintenance
If you're accessing cloud software from a desktop or laptop, you merely have to access it through an internet browser in order to use it. There's no installation at all. If the software has a mobile app like BQE Core does, you just need to download it onto your smartphone. The vendor will automatically install updates on their own servers. Cloud software is also very easy to customize. You can, for instance, choose which information and options are displayed on your dashboard when you launch the app.
4. Remote Access
You are more than likely one of the 83 percent of contractors who use their smartphone, tablet or laptop on job sites. Switching to a cloud-based project management solution means you can access all the data relevant to a project from anywhere, share insights with a client and manage billing and accounting on the go. Switching to the cloud could also open up new opportunities for collaboration; a cloud-based platform makes it easy to share project management data with partners all around the world.
5. Streamlined Work
Cloud software for AEC firms is designed so that you can manage entire projects within a single interface. You can track your expenses, manage bills from vendors, send invoices, and check the progress of different aspects of a project with a single platform. You can even track the project submission process of a construction project. Some tasks, such as invoicing, can be automated to save time, and you can integrate your cloud-based solution with other solutions you already use, such as QuickBooks Online.
The average AEC firm's data grows by 10 to 20 percent each year, which means that scalability should be a priority when making IT decisions. Switching to the cloud eliminates the need to purchase additional hardware as your project management needs grow. You can keep using the same cloud-based solution as your business grows and simply use more server space to store your data.
7. Insights, Audits, and Compliance
Cloud software can automatically compile data for your projects and deliver actionable insights. You can get an idea of how your business is performing, use this data to identify new opportunities for growth and make more accurate bidding proposals for future projects. Having these insights available is a huge plus in case of an audit, and you can find cloud-based solutions with built-in features designed to help you meet compliance requirements.
Switching to cloud software will transform the way you work. You will have more time for other tasks and find that you can manage projects more efficiently. The transition can be daunting, but keep in mind that the cloud vendor you select will help you and even ensure that you get the most out of your new cloud platform.
BQE Core, for example, offers all of the benefits listed above in a platform that combines business intelligence, time and expense management, project management, billing, accounting, and reporting. It was designed specifically with the AEC industry in mind, and BQE Software is trusted by hundreds of thousands of architects and engineers.