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Tips & Advice

Supporting and Encouraging Women in Construction

In 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women made up 10% of construction industry workers. Up until now, the industry has done a poor job of reaching out to women and minorities and encouraging them to pursue a career in construction. And with a severe labor shortage in the industry, now is the time to act.

In 2021, Levelset, a mechanics lien processing company, surveyed 1,001 women in the construction industry about their experiences. One of the biggest frustrations for women is the lack of opportunity for advancement. “The glass ceiling is very real for smart women in technical positions,” said a manager for a California general contractor.

Women also feel that they aren’t respected as much as their male counterparts, especially in the field. “I am very good at my job and I do it well,” said one office administrator who works for a general contractor in Minnesota, “but in this industry, I am spoken to like a child a lot of the time. It’s assumed I don’t know what I’m doing and that is very frustrating. I love this industry and I see potential for so much growth and I really want to be a part of that, but it’s going to take a long time to shift the thinking that this is just a man’s industry.”

According to the survey, 59% said fewer than 1 in 20 women are in leadership roles where they work. That translates to less than 5% of leaders in the construction industry being women. “At all the jobs I have held in construction the opportunity to advance has been limited because the CFO has always been married to or has been somehow related to the owner of the company,” said an administrative assistant for a subcontractor in South Carolina. “It limits growth in the traditionally women-held jobs in construction.”

The events of the past year and a half brought the subject of inclusion and diversity to the forefront for the nation. Looking at the statistics above, it’s clear we still have a long way to go before we can claim to have a diverse workforce. The good news is, there are concrete steps that we can take today to encourage women to become a part of the industry.

Encourage diversity in contracts

In federal and state-funded projects, minority and women-owned businesses are given preference over other contractors and suppliers. Contractors are encouraged to reach out to minority-owned businesses to solicit bids. Some projects even have quotas that have to be met when it comes to contracting with minority companies. Some companies, like McDonald’s, are asking contractors to report their use of minority-owned companies on construction projects.

Expanding these requirements to use minority contractors and suppliers for private projects would encourage contractors to hire more minority companies. Some project owners, like the City of Portland, also track the gender and ethnicity of workers on site, encouraging diversity in field crews as well.

Support professional development

To encourage women to advance in their positions, companies should offer professional development opportunities to expand their skill sets. These opportunities could include workshops, classes, or on-the-job training. There are many organizations that provide professional development for women, like the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC). With chapters across the nation, women can participate in local, regional, and national conferences to learn more about the industry and the latest trends.

Mortenson’s Business Development Manager – Community Engagement, Alejandra Spray says, “We start identifying those people who show potential and want to keep growing. We identify people not based on their present title, but how hard they are working, how they rally the troops, how they inspire others, and if they have the desire to be more.” By identifying good workers early, they can be encouraged and taught the skills they need to continue moving up to positions with more responsibility.

Support networking opportunities

Meeting other women in the industry is beneficial for women at all levels. Networking allows them to learn more about the possibilities in their field and about how other companies handle issues and their processes. The key to getting the most out of these groups is to participate. When workers get involved in events, fundraisers, and other activities, they learn new skills, such as public speaking and leadership. They also benefit from getting involved in their community.

There are many professional organizations for workers in different skill sets, like engineers and architects, construction financial managers, women in trades, and unions. Other networking groups include local marketing groups, chambers of commerce, charity boards, and other volunteer opportunities.

Support mentoring programs

Mentorship is key for women who wish to advance their careers. It offers the opportunity for support and someone to challenge them to meet their career goals. “Mentorship is really a key part of the success of women in the industry,” said Anne Pfleger, President of the National Association of Women in Construction. “[Mentoring] can rejuvenate your career at any stage, it improves your personal productivity, it strengthens leadership skills, and it also increases career satisfaction.”

If women are unable to find suitable mentors within their company, management should help them locate groups or individuals that could help them along their career path. Companies should support regular mentor meetings and provide professional opportunities to help them meet their career goals.

Keep making progress

Above all, construction companies need to continue moving the needle when it comes to encouraging a diverse workforce. We need to continue to look for ways to attract and engage women in the industry.

“We are all human and we all want to succeed,” says Mortensen’s Spray. “I hope we can get to that place because I just love this industry. I love driving downtown and telling my kids I was part of that project, or when one of my mentees gets a promotion. There are so many rewards in the industry, and I’m going to keep fighting for more people to be given the opportunity to see the benefits of those rewards.”

Author Biography:

Dawn Killough is a construction writer with over 20 years of experience with construction payments, from the perspectives of subcontractors and general contractors. Dawn has held roles such as a staff accountant, green building advisor, project assistant, and contract administrator.  Her work for general contractors, design firms, and subcontractors has even led to the publication of blogs on several construction tech websites and her book, Green Building Design 101.

Categories
Tips & Advice

How Investing in Construction Software Will Save You More Money in the Long-Run

Once upon a time, construction projects were managed by hand with pen and paper. The construction industry has since evolved to be heavily centered around and contingent upon the use of technology, and it continues to evolve as technological advances make it possible to manage and complete projects more efficiently, saving businesses money in terms of both time and resources.

Every construction project consists of a number of different processes, with a team of project members and stakeholders responsible for various aspects. Even a small project can have hundreds of moving parts, as well as numerous construction documents that need to be managed, stored, and shared. Without the right organizational tools, clear communication, and close oversight, things can get out of hand pretty quickly and result in budget overruns and schedule delays.

Construction management software provides the tools and structure to help you more effectively manage all phases of a construction project, from initial planning to closeout—but not all construction management software offers the same benefits. In a recent blog, we outlined the key differences between a cloud-based vs. on-premise solution. In this blog, we’ll dive deeper into how a cloud-based, SaaS solution will save you more money in the long-run.

No Extra Costs

One of the biggest advantages of a cloud-based solution is the immediate cost savings, which ultimately translates into long-term cost savings. On-premise systems require a large initial investment because of the server hardware, software licensing, deployment, and IT support staff. In addition to the large upfront investments, on-premise solutions require ongoing maintenance to the physical infrastructure, in addition to the time required to perform routine software maintenance, back-ups, and updates. With a cloud-based, “pay as you go” model, all of those costs are eliminated. Everything is saved on the cloud, updates and maintenance are handled by the service provider, and all you have to do is pay a subscription fee.

Efficient Resource Management

One of the most fundamental aspects of successful project management is understanding how much time and resources are required to complete various tasks. This information is not only important for monitoring current projects but also provides critical insight that helps project managers more accurately forecast future projects. Construction management software offers time tracking capabilities that give project managers the ability to constantly monitor progress, and to see exactly how much time and resources are being spent on each individual task to ensure resource management is optimized.

Streamlined AR Billing

The construction industry utilizes several different types of billing methods, and sometimes there may be multiple payment methods required for one project. Because of this, knowing how much to bill clients, and when to bill clients, can be tedious to track—especially considering most companies have multiple projects occurring simultaneously. Construction management software can take the guesswork out of your AR billing by streamlining the entire process, saving you valuable time, while also providing a higher level of accuracy than manual entry.

Automate your cost-plus billing process using Premier Contstruction Software

Less Paperwork

Paperwork can be a huge pain—and a huge cost—in the construction industry. Construction documents can be hundreds of pages long, making it a cumbersome job to manage manually, especially when you consider the number of changes and revisions that are made throughout the entire process. Construction management software not only saves money on paper and ink by providing one centralized location to store all construction documents digitally—which also means you’ll never have to worry about losing a document again—it also saves a huge amount of time by updating documents in real-time to ensure everyone has the most recent version at their fingertips. And with a cloud-based solution, you’ll have the added benefit of unlimited storage.

Organizational Performance Improvement

Construction management software can help you improve organizational performance by providing detailed reports with the information you need to make better, faster, and more informed decisions. With a number of different reporting options and a customizable dashboard, project managers can easily view high-level KPIs, pending items, approvals, as well as cost and revenue summaries, each with full drill-down capability.

Conclusion

Running a construction company and ensuring its ongoing profitability is no easy feat, but investing in construction management software is well worth the cost in the long-run given its ability to save you time and money in so many different ways.

To learn how Premier Construction Software can meet your company’s specific needs, click here to schedule a personalized product tour.

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Industry Insight Trends & Technology

What’s the difference between a cloud-solution vs on-premise solution?

The use of construction management software on the rise, and there’s no shortage of service providers eager to tell you why their solution is the best fit for your business. 

So how do you decide which is right for you?  

When choosing which construction management software best meets your business needs, one of the biggest factors you’ll need to consider is whether to deploy an on-premise or cloud-based solution. 

Deciding between the two is a complex process with a number of variables to consider, but in this blog, we’ll explore some of the key differences in order to help you make a more informed decision about which is best suited for your construction company.

Cloud vs On-Premise Construction Software

By definition, the most fundamental difference between a cloud-based and on-premise solution is where it’s located. With an on-premise solution, the software is installed locally on computers and supported by a server that’s also located on-premise (thus, the name). A cloud-based solution utilizes external servers managed by a service provider. 

cloud-based construction solution providing convenience to users

Key Areas of Consideration

When deciding between a cloud-based or on-premise construction software solution, here are four key areas to consider: 

Cost

  • On-premise: Building a system from the ground up comes at a high cost. On-premise systems cost significantly more upfront because of the server hardware, software licensing, deployment and IT support staff. In addition to the initial investments, companies will also incur ongoing maintenance and operating costs.
  • Cloud: A cloud-based, SaaS solution costs much less upfront than an on-premise solution. The subscription cost and payment structure vary by provider, but payments are typically handled on a monthly or annual basis.  The set up and run times for a cloud solution are much quicker than an on-premise system because once the subscription fees are paid, you can start using the service right away and don’t have to wait for an in-house infrastructure to be built and deployed.

Accessibility

  • On-premise: Remote or limited access is available with some on-premise systems through VPN services; however, limited access is not ideal when critical, up-to-date project information needs to be accessed quickly. 
  • Cloud: With more and more employees working remotely, and project members needing to access information quickly while on the jobsite, a cloud-based solution is the superior choice for accessibility and one of the biggest selling points for a SaaS solution. Many cloud providers also offer custom apps for smartphones, which makes accessibility and collaboration even easier.

Security

  • On-premise: Many companies simply feel safer hosting confidential documents on-site within their own firewalls, though it’s important to note it’s not always actually safer. What it tends to really boil down to is the desire to feel in control. With an on-premise system, you control the system and the backup and privacy policies.
  • Cloud: Most SaaS solutions offer comprehensive security features, and may even have independent security certifications that are more stringent than many in-house IT policies. Cloud service providers routinely employ up-to-date security features so you can feel confident your data is always secure and protected.  

Maintenance

  • On-premise: With an on-premise system, you’re responsible for maintaining the hardware and software, as well as backups, storage and recovery. This typically requires an IT staff, which can be difficult for smaller companies to manage with a limited budget.
  • Cloud: Using a cloud-based solution means you don’t have to worry about updating or maintaining hardware or software, because your service provider will handle that for you. Spending less time and money on maintenance and updates means you can allocate those resources elsewhere.

So, which one is better?

In the end, the “better” solution for you will depend on your unique business needs—but more and more businesses are shifting to cloud-based software because of the upfront cost savings, accessibility, reliability and convenience it offers. The construction industry is fast-paced, and the ability to access up-to-date project information quickly and easily—from anywhere and at any time—is critical to minimizing miscommunication and costly mistakes, as well as keeping projects on-track. 

Laptop displaying a dashboard for a construction job

To learn more about Premier Construction Software and why our comprehensive, cloud-based SaaS solution may just be the perfect fit for your project management needs, click here to schedule a personalized product tour. 

 

Author Biography:

Kathryn Dressler is a content strategist with more than 10 years of experience across the spectrum of marketing services, including blogging, social media, public relations, copywriting and editorial services.

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Industry Insight Resources

Best Practices For Software Implementation

Beginnings are always messy and this is often true in the Construction Industry. Especially at the start of a new project, which can make the entire project messy from day one. Through proper planning, possible pitfalls can most definitely be avoided.

The same can be said for implementing new construction software. Contractors often hesitate investing in a more efficient system – typically not due to the cost, but rather the anticipated stress associated with change management.

By applying your skills and know-how of running a successful and profitable construction project, you can avoid these common missteps when implementing a new construction software. Below are some of the most common roadblocks and related best practices to curb them.

1. Begin with a Plan

When you purchase a new construction software package, approach the implementation process the same way you would approach a new job – with a solid plan. Tap into the resources of your software provider in order to develop a logical and effective implementation strategy in order to be successful. They have helped thousands of clients before you, so with an open mind, allow them to be your trusted partner throughout the process.

2.  Define Success

Success is more than simply having the system up and running. Look deeper into defining what success is. What procedures have you found that haven’t worked with your current software and how can those procedures be improved? Identify these measurements of success at the onset of implementing new software.

3.  Assign a Project Manager Lead

Typically, you wouldn’t begin a new job without a Project Manager, so do not start a software transition without one. Ensure you have a dedicated Project Manager on board from your company and ensure they play a substantial role during the implementation process. Ultimately, the Project Manager will be one of the champions during start to finish of implementation and further on.

4.  Review Old Procedures

The main reason for changing software packages is to increase productivity and profitability. In order to increase this, it is important to review old procedures in order to make the necessary adjustments. Spend the time up front to establish a more standardized structure for all of your jobs and overall operations within your company.

5.  Review Outdated Information

Before switching over to your new software provider, review all of your records. By eliminating duplicate vendors, evaluating outstanding items and updating employee information – you can start with a clean set of data, which will help you when developing new procedures or tweaking existing ones.

6.  Approach Implementation in Phases

Transitioning over to a new software package should be approached in phases, just like a job. Map out each phase along with your software provider and share this with your team leads. By approaching this in phases, it will keep your staff from feeling overwhelmed as you move throughout implementation because you are giving them time to learn the basics before adding more complex functionality.

7.  Stay Positive and take Advantage!

Implementing new software can come with a bag of changing emotions – excitement, dread, frustration and impatience. Change can be difficult but remaining positive and taking advantage of the support your software provider is arming you with, will make all the difference! Keep an open line of communication between yourself and your team, as well as the software provider. Increase your knowledge base and overall efficiency by taking advantage of any additional resources, webinars and much more. Most importantly, take a hands on approach to training in order to utilize the software to is maximum ability.

Change is necessary for growth. Set expectations early on and approach the brand new implementation process with a solid strategy!

Categories
Trends & Technology

The Truth About True Cloud

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What is the difference between cloud and a hosted environment?

With typical hosting, you’re offloading your servers to a third party hosting company who then looks after server management on your behalf. While at first glance this seems like a positive step in the right direction to reducing your overall IT costs, you’re still limited by the capacity of these servers and the network capacity of the provider. If you need more capacity, the hosting provider may not be able to provide it. If you need a faster server – get ready for a ‘planned migration’ that can potentially leave you and your customers with either heavily degraded service, or worse, no service at all. Requiring more capacity is known in the industry as ‘Scaling’, and with traditional hosting this remains difficult and costly. In addition to issues with Scalability, you’re also putting your full confidence in your hosting provider to take complete backups, ensure that both your backups and live environment are secure, and that the software you are hosting remains available, even during catastrophic failures.

With Cloud Technology, servers typically operate in a virtualized cluster of many machines, all working together to provide you with the resources and capacity you need. Scaling up, then, is simply a quick configuration change. No downtime. No servers to order. No issues with parts being on back-order. Virtually no downtime. With Cloud technology, companies can scale on-demand to the requirements of the business to ensure that the resources you need are available when you need it. And backups are not an afterthought – they’re typically baked into the core of the service. In the case of a hosting provider such as Microsoft Azure, backups are constantly being taken, allowing you access to to-the-minute point-in-time backups from any time in the last 14 days. And catastrophic failures need not be a concern – with a 99.95% guaranteed uptime and failover zones that are provisioned on the opposite location of the main data centre, you can be sure your data remains safe and your software remains available.

What do you mean by ‘true cloud’, then?

 Many software companies, in an attempt to appear modern and up-to-date dedicate their budgets to masquerading the underlying server dependency with Hosting Environment solutions, rather than investing in their customers and the future of their product. Those that approach the problem in this way are looking at the problem from a short term gain perspective, meaning, long term pains. Jonas Premier, on the other hand, was engineered from the ground up using modern technology, leveraging Microsoft Azure, the #1 global provider for cloud hosting. With more than 66% of Fortune 500 companies relying on Microsoft Azure as their cloud service provider, combined with their 99.95% enterprise grade SLA on services, support, and monitoring, you can be sure that your data remains safe, available, and that Premier can scale to even the most demanding businesses.

So, not all Software Solutions that claim to be ‘cloud’ are ‘true cloud’ based solutions?!

Unfortunately, not. Many companies practice deceptive marketing strategies as a short term solution solely to prop up their financials and appear to position themselves in the market in a way that isn’t reflective of their true solution. They spend their resources on this deception, rather than investing in their infrastructure, and thus, their customers.

That can’t be right. I just got a trial, and was able to run the software without installing it!

Most hosted software solutions require you to operate the software using Remote Desktop Technology such as RDP or Citrix. Sometimes, in addition to this, they also require you establish a VPN connection to their network! Typically, all of these solutions are costly, slow and inconvenient. In these situations, they are effectively having you connect to a workstation which already has the software installed, whether that be to run your day to day business, or to provide you with a demo or trial. In today’s world, people demand the convenience of access, speed, high availability, and a low cost. With a true cloud solution such as Jonas Premier, you don’t need to worry about how you will connect to the software, you don’t need to worry about whether it can scale to meet the demands of your growing business, and you don’t need to worry about maintaining servers, backups, or any of the associated IT overhead.

 Where is my data and who does it belong to?

This is a great question. You want to ensure that you are teaming up with a reputable hosting provider as they are responsible for the security and safety of your data. With Jonas Premier, your data always remains your data. You always have access to real-time data on demand which can be queried through the software, or externally from the software. You can even extract your data using your favorite tools such as Microsoft Excel! Backed by Constellation Software Inc (CSU.TO) and hosted on the Microsoft Azure Cloud, you can be confident that your data is safe and secure. In addition, we have escrow agreements in place to ensure that you have access to your data no matter what the future has in store.

 Why are businesses moving to cloud?

The answer is simple. Lower Total-Cost-of-Ownership (TCO), higher convenience, reduced overall risk, high availability, and access to real-time information from anywhere at any time. Information and reporting are the heart of any organization, and with cloud, it makes it easy for employees to get information from the field into the software to improve cash flow and enhance decision-making capabilities. With over 80% of companies saving money since implementing cloud, it is no surprise that so many companies are making the choice to move to the cloud.

What are the risks with cloud?

Life is fraught with risk, and in this case, the main risk associated with Cloud solutions is internet connectivity and availability. As more and more of the world is looking to the Internet as the universal-backbone-of-things, we’ve seen significant investments in communication technologies, such as fibre to the door, higher speeds, increased cell tower coverage, etc. Today, those internet challenges are quickly becoming a non-issue.

But my server is working great. Why would I want to change?

While traditional servers are still an option, servers have to be maintained and upgraded regularly, which is not only time consuming, but also costly as well. Your business requires IT personnel to manage this and you will incur the costs for backing up your data and storing information. For example, the typical cost to back up data is approximately $80/month for businesses, and most companies’ ultimately back-up to tape, larger in scale and more advanced, but fundamentally the same technology used back in the day of the 8-track tape or audio tapes you might have had in your car to listen to music. Over time, these tapes become unreliable and can be easily damaged. Also, businesses are storing more documents and trying to share them with customers and vendors, which include photos, drawings, and videos. Businesses end up leveraging public online services such as Dropbox. Dropbox is good when you want to share files with your friends, but do you want to make it the information sharing cornerstone of your business? These types of solutions make it increasingly difficult for employees to collaborate and access real-time information.

What about Security? Surely a server solution is more secure than a Cloud Solution.

Most companies have a tendency to believe their servers are safe. And then, something actually happens. Only at this point, with their data lost or stolen and their whole business now at risk, do they quickly realize they lacked the proper infrastructure to protect their most valuable assets. Businesses have had their servers stolen, suffered data corruption, and sometimes lose their data entirely due to natural disasters. Also, many businesses simply do not have the funding to hire and maintain the IT personnel, nor the infrastructure, and when corners get cut you increase the risk of viruses, corruption, or worse. If you partner with a reputable cloud provider such as Microsoft Azure, your data is being protected by one of the top software companies in the world. With Jonas Premier, we have a 14-day point-in-time backup recovery, redundant backups on top of the point-in-time backups, and we leverage multiple data centres within Azure which ensure we have disaster recovery, failover and redundancy capabilities in place. To put it simply, without a proper IT infrastructure in place and a large budget, choosing a server solution is like keeping your money under your mattress. With Jonas Premier, you get to keep your money in the bank, and you can rest easy at night knowing your money is safe.

 

“As a company, we’re not typically in the office all day, every day. Having a cloud-based construction software like Jonas Premier allows us to perform our jobs wherever we may be and fits in well with our business model.”

-Bill Knauss, Land Development & Construction[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]