SCOTTSDALE, AZ — As the world adjusts to an unprecedented shift in work habits, an Arizona-based software company is using the cloud to smooth the transition.
Since most of North America went into self-isolation last week, construction project management software firm InEight has seen a substantial uptick in interest in its solutions, InEight chief production officer Brad Barth said.
“Attendance in webinars has gone way up in the last couple of weeks because people are being opportunistic and looking to improve tools and processes for when things go crazy again,” Barth said.
Similar behaviour occurred during other moments of uncertainty such as the 2008 financial crisis, he added.
“InEight has been around for 30 years and we’ve seen a couple of slowdowns. In 2008 work started to slow down and people started to get a better focus on their planning and schedules and owners became much more discerning on projects,” Barth said.
The current economic interruption brought on by the coronavirus will cause another pause for reflection followed by better thought out execution of plans, he said.
“Now owners will be much more selective for which projects they fund and having a focus on the risk and schedule is more important than ever,” Barth said.
Since InEight’s software is cloud-based, he added, it is well-suited for the quick adoption of work-from-home practices necessary to fight the spread of the coronavirus.
“Certainly, when we started building our current generation of projects that were built for the cloud we hadn’t foreseen what we’re experiencing now with everyone forced to work from home, but ultimately we do support that,” he said.
Using the cloud for project management offers a two-fold advantage, Barth said.
“For a vast number of small and medium-sized businesses, using the cloud makes it viable for companies without an IT department to take advantage of software like ours,” he said.
“Secondly, and we’re experiencing this now, people are working from home and not from a construction project, and people are almost always working in different places, be they the home, the office or a worksite. Multiply that by every stakeholder and what’s happening on the architect, engineering and owner side,” Barth added.
“Even small projects share dozens of people trying to collaborate and not standing next to each other,” he said.
The construction industry has long been lambasted for a lack of productivity and for projects falling behind schedule and going over budget, Barth said, but “some of that is due to the nature of the work.”
“But a lack of hitting budgets and schedules is more of a planning problem and less of an execution problem,” he said.
“Schedules are not properly prepared, and the craft of project management needs to evolve and take a more formal approach, particularly regarding risk,” he said.
One of the biggest impediments to productivity is the lack of knowledge transfer from project to project, Barth said, resulting in risks not being properly identified and accounted for.
“The finger is often pointed at people in the field and it’s largely a function of getting the budget and schedule right in the first place,” he said.
“In mid-sized businesses, decisions are made by a small group of people with knowledge in their heads, and our cloud-based solution allows firms to spread that knowledge,” he said. “Companies get smarter by leveraging all the information the company in has that knowledge library.”
Risk management means using InEight’s risk algorithm, Barth said, and the software also references a firm’s knowledge library “so as you build each project it stores deltas between what was the plan and what was the reality, which identifies risks you may not of thought of and can incorporate in the planning process.”