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Interoperability: A Whole New (Construction) World

A n interoperability report by McGraw-Hill Construction found that an average of about 3.1 percent of project costs were attributable to software non-interoperability.

How exactly did this time-sink break out? It was estimated by 69 percent to 75 percent of surveyed engineers that manual data entry was the main cost associated with non-interoperability, followed by duplicate entries at 56 percent of cost and a culture of document version checking at 46 percent. Increased time processing requests for information came in at 41 percent.

These various practices were all driven by one thing: the team members’ efforts to overcome barriers to data sharing. Software interoperability removes the need for these workarounds and makes a measurable difference in project delivery.

Building Bridges

When each of the functional areas has its own point solution, the benefits of holistic integration are absent because they are not seamlessly exchanging information. The goal of software interoperability is to take down the walls that naturally come between cross-disciplinary project teams and replace those walls with bridges. The budgeting software may be working like a charm for the estimator, the punch list tool has the contractor walking on air, and the accounting software is so beloved that finance won’t stop talking about it. But if there is no interoperability among these solutions, their individual efficiencies can’t be combined into a winning whole.

Relief from the Cloud

Cloud-based project management software has done a lot to increase the presence of interoperability in the industry. The cloud, and the Software as a Service (SaaS) model that delivers its services from the cloud, have made possible the complete integration of once-separated software solutions into a single shared platform. In fact, these cloud-based SaaS providers have interoperability as their central design theme.

SaaS is sort of one-stop shop where all of a construction firm’s point solutions can be found, from accounting to transmittals, as separate but seamlessly joined tools in a cloud-based software suite.

SaaS joins the functional areas and solutions together in a singular family of integrated, interoperable project management tools through which data flows in an unimpeded and collaborative stream. And when a SaaS client requests that a favorite or familiar point solution be added to the interoperable family, SaaS is all about accommodating the client’s wishes. Best of all, when the cloud-based software tools upgrade, they do so as one integrated service and all subscriber-clients enjoy the upgrades at once with no fuss.

Software Finds its Way Onto the Jobsite

Construction used to need (and later, actually wanted) a project management software solution to help streamline the controlled chaos of the project. The market responded with a flood of software products. Initially eyed with suspicion by a hardware-driven industry that felt it was doing just fine, software has finally found its home on the construction jobsite and in the back office. Now comes the final step in construction’s tech evolution: a little something called interoperability.

Workflow efficiencies, performance tracking, new ways to approach drawings, punch lists, field observations…thanks to the cloud’s natural fit with software integration, it’s a whole new world out there.

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