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Featured in Bizcommunity: “Is the Cloud the right answer for construction in SA?”

Posted on November 4, 2015

The construction industry has been labeled as a late adopter, but with the advent of mobility and trends such as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), the industry has started using these devices in a manner adverse to the industry’s effective management. While these tools have been developed to make business easier and progress quicker, the very same tools have caused disarray for construction projects. Now, there are simply too many methods of communication and very little in place to manage any of it.

“At a time when the construction industry needs to consider a system to manage projects more effectively, the level of resistance remains high. The reality is that no one person or team within the currently adopted method of information creation and dissemination can effectively manage a construction project today. This places immense strain on projects and the teams behind them,” says John Haefele, managing director of Onsite Control Systems, providers of cloud collaboration solutions for construction in Africa.

Multiple communication channels creates challenges

In a¬†Capterra global survey¬†earlier this year just over half (52%) of respondents said they use construction management software. But a weighty 48% of respondents rely on standard forms of construction management. Haefele says Africa’s adoption figures are much worse and given the opportunities of the continent as an emerging market, an online solution really needs to be more fully embraced. “Doing business in Africa has enough infrastructural, governmental, and regulatory challenges, along with increasing skills shortages, that we need to use technology to assist in meeting the significant construction challenges in order to grow the continent and meet the economics demands placed on it.”

In the Capterra survey the dominant technology solution was a mix of Excel and email, while a minority of users rely on VPN file transfers. About a quarter report using “other” construction management techniques, which could range from text message communication, handwritten checklists, or forgoing a formal process altogether. This survey proves why construction management companies need to consider an online collaboration system. “There are simply too many ways for the project to go awry based on the multitude of communications tools used and the lack of central management and record keeping.”

Online collaboration could help the struggle.

He says that the multiple channels and methods of communication create so many challenges in the construction industry and are the reasons why the struggle will continue: “Slow adaption towards any change in the traditionally accepted method of information creation and flow, as well as the technology required, are significant challenges and definite stumbling blocks. These issues need to be addressed now if we are going to successfully move the construction industry forward.”
Haefele says: “There is a dire need to break away from traditional and old-school approaches to construction management. The answer lies in rethinking the information creation, dissemination and management methods across all channels and for all disciplines. We need to adopt a cooperative approach through a single online communication platform to replace the myriad of untraceable information routes and means used today.”