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building your software ecosystem in construction

Why It’s Not All in One vs. Best of Breed: Building a Software Ecosystem in Construction

Why Integrations Are Essential in Construction Tech

For any construction company, choosing software can feel like a never-ending process. The construction tech renaissance is just beginning, and while it’s an exciting time, the number of options cropping up can feel dizzying to administrators, and IT teams alike. At the core of it, how do you get the most out of your dollar and time?

If you’re looking to get the most ROI from construction software, it’s critical to think carefully about the following questions: Should you look to use the best construction software out there and start building a tech ecosystem for your company product by product? Or should you look for a general software solution that can handle a wide range of construction needs?

Below, we’ll walk you through on how to make the right decision for your growing construction needs.

The Big Debate: All in One vs. Specialized?

Most CIO’s or IT teams look at the debate in terms of black or white; all in one vs. best of breed software. On the one side is the fact that best of breed software is specialized. Sure, it does it well, but many construction companies have concerns if best of breed software can truly meet their growing needs. Proponents of very specialized software point out, however, that all in one software does do “everything,” but it doesn’t do any of it very well. It seems like an impossible choice.

Tech and software are investments for any construction company. If implemented correctly, the rewards will pay off over time. Therefore, like any good investment, it’s a good idea to diversify and look for a range of technology solutions that are best in class and can cover multiple bases.

Instead of thinking about one over the other, think about building a network solutions that integrate together. This involves building a technology ecosystem from the place where money is made and lost; the field.

What Is a Technology Ecosystem?

With so many technology solutions on the market, it’s impossible for one solution to address all of construction’s complex needs. Therefore, creating an ecosystem of integrated solutions is essential to getting the most out of technology. According to Dictionary.com, an ecosystem is defined as “any system or network of interconnecting and interacting parts.” Similarly, a technology ecosystem is a system of connected innovations that can communicate with one another.

As data and information have been typically fragmented and siloed in construction, a technology ecosystem allows for richer data and teams be more connected than ever. This is only possible with technology integrations.

Establishing Your Construction Ecosystem Starting from the Field

First and foremost, it’s critical to choose a primary software solution to best address the needs of construction, starting from the field. Changes from the field can add up fast, in both money and time. Therefore, providing full project visibility and allowing communication and markups within field technology is essential for keeping costs low.

Instead of choosing a solution that appears on the surface to handle all of your needs from accounting to project management, look for software that is deliberately expanding their offerings starting from the field. For instance, knowing the errors and omissions in submittals could lead to costly delays and mistakes in the field, PlanGrid grew its product offerings to include software for submittals. Furthermore, as the company understands that up to 70% of total rework experienced in construction and engineering products are a result of design-induced rework, the company will be releasing a Revit plugin later this year.

In addition to choosing software that is growing its product offerings, select an option that has an application programming interface (API) to integrate with the best of breed software. Here are a few of the benefits that come from choosing software that integrates with the best of the best in construction:

Controlled Pricing

If you want to keep IT costs under control, just using one all in one solution that promises low prices truly isn’t the way to go. Piecing together software might seem like the harder, more expensive option up front because you have to decide on and configure multiple platforms and you “lose” that all in one savings. However, the all in one promise usually ends up proving pretty empty when you discover its limitations and can’t integrate additional resources. Building your software ecosystem allows you to scale to meet your needs while keeping costs low because you’re never charged for features and support you don’t need.

Easier Implementation

Specialized software is niche, so it doesn’t involve a massive company-wide transition. While training for best of breed is necessary, it’s easier to train only the teams that need to use it–not everyone at once, as would be necessary for all in one software. Plus, software support is specialized and more helpful when there are questions or concerns.

Teams of Specialists

Building your technology ecosystem with field technology that integrates with best of breed solutions benefits the skillset of the entire construction team. On the one hand, best of breed software is designed for specific teams (e.g., field teams, accounting, project managers) who are better equipped to interface with such software, and in fact, need it to be highly specialized. On the other hand, all in one doesn’t always have deep knowledge of specific trades or roles. It may be broad and lag in certain areas. One company can’t have in-depth industry knowledge across all the products needed to meet all of construction’s needs.

Always Up to Date Features

Specialized software allows teams to push out relevant features, allowing companies to adjust for changes in the market or customer preferences.

Competitive Advantage

If there’s one facet of a software ecosystem of which you can be sure, it’s that it will allow you to innovate faster by trying new solutions and adapting to changes in your field more quickly. A technology ecosystem enables your company to have more freedom to try and test the many new options entering the market. Not only do you get cutting-edge benefits from best of breed, but you can adopt and standardize processes across all industries with field technology. Standardization in construction is a winner every time.

How Integrations Enable Field Software to Win

You wouldn’t use an all in one tool to physically build a structure. Why, then, are we so willing to believe that all in one software is possible? Why do we assume that a cookie-cutter option, which reduces your ability to customize and bring in other software platforms, is best?

Naturally, we’re not claiming every software claiming to be best of breed will really fit the bill. It does have to do its job well. More importantly, it must integrate with cutting-edge field software so that you can to provide the most ROI. Integrations allow teams to get the best of breed software solutions plus the convenience of connecting data and systems together.

For instance, at PlanGrid, field collaboration software for the construction industry has a wide partner ecosystem, so it can integrate applications directly to centralize project record. Here are a few of the latest integrations with best-in-class software.

Uplift Data Partners

Uplift Data Partners’ network of vetted and experienced pilots take drone images of jobsites so that you always know where you stand with a project. No longer do you have to count on verbal reports or pictures taken in the field, if they get taken at all.

Instead, you can trust Uplift to offer aerial insights by managing every aspect of the drone operation, from flying the drones and analyzing the data to compiling insights and delivering them to you. That enables you to stop worrying about what aerial photos are telling you, and make the best possible decisions for your company. PlanGrid’s customers can use Uplift Data Partner’s network of vetted and experienced pilots to take drone images of their jobsites.

SiteAware

SiteAware helps owners, developers, and GCs to make better informed execution decisions. With their construction asset monitoring platform and autonomous, situation-aware drones, SiteAware captures and extracts aerial data of jobsites and turns them into valuable insights to improve productivity, quality, and safety. These images can be uploaded and processed within SiteAware before being submitted to PlanGrid as project reference documents.

With such advanced digital tools, data, and analytic capabilities at your fingertips, you will get the right insights to allow your project to meet its schedule and budget with the highest quality.

RedTeam

RedTeam is your best of breed project management platform for detailed routing and tracking. They offer a centralized, cloud-based construction project management and cost control platform. Their system was built by contractors, people who actually know the business and its needs.

With the integration, contractors can easily send individual sheets or complete sets of drawings from RedTeam to PlanGrid, reducing risk by eliminating duplicate entry and organizing documents by scope of work.  

Now, with RedTeam at your side, you can create the best workflow for projects, manage finances, keep your team on track and create accountability from the smallest unit to the thousand-foot view.

Stamplay

One of the most common challenges for those in the construction industry is to stay up-to-date. Drawings and plans change regularly, either as stakeholders decide on a different approach or as workers in the field encounter a need for adjustment. When those drawings become outdated and go uncorrected, problems ensue.

Stamplay helps organizations to automate their processes and integrate data across all their applications. In this context, Stamplay helps you to push drawings and documents to PlanGrid from other supported platforms, such as Box. This enables your drawings to funnel effortlessly from one platform to another, without you even having to press a button.

To learn more about PlanGrid’s partners and integrations, you can view the integrations page on the website.

The Takeaway: Building Your Technology Ecosystem Is Best

The truth is, construction is an industry rampant with wasted time, money and other resources. Even slightly inefficient processes stack up over time, combining to represent massive shortfalls. Failures to communicate, transmit information, oversee a site under construction up to the minute might seem like little drawbacks at the moment, but they can lead to huge problems down the road.

And simply put, using just one all in one construction software that’s trying to be all things to all departments is going to let issues slide. You will miss documents, overlook important communications, live with inaccuracies in your modeling and so much more.

At the end of the day, the successful construction companies are those who use the best processes from start to finish, and that means using establishing a software ecosystem that integrates field technology with best of breed.

Further Reading:  How Mobile Construction Apps Are Building the Future [Infographic]

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