In the early days of desktop computing, businesses eagerly embraced this newly accessible technology to help run their companies, starting with tasks like accounting. As the construction industry adopted computers, they added estimating and project management to the mix. The result? Three distinct silos of data. This marked the beginning of a persistent challenge for contractors: data integrations.
Data Integrations, initially bespoke endeavors, required the services of professional agencies. Maintenance was a constant concern, as software upgrades and version changes could disrupt workflows. In some cases, specialized apps were developed to run alongside existing software. Another hurdle was posed by software residing on individual computers rather than in the cloud. Some systems even lacked internet connectivity, leading to reliance on local area networks for integrations.
The term ‘integrations’ encompassed a wide spectrum, from basic Microsoft Excel file transfers to live connections. As the integration landscape evolved, more companies sought to connect their software systems. However, with the proliferation of construction-specific applications, the problem began to outpace the solution.
Peer-to-peer integrations presented their own set of challenges. Connecting an estimating system to an accounting system, for example, required a direct link. As more applications entered the ecosystem, the complexity increased exponentially—most construction projects employ as many as nine apps to manage from cradle to grave, meaning there are 81 potential integrations between all these systems.
The concept of ‘hub and spoke’ emerged as a potential solution. Project management software often assumed the role of a hub, but this approach had limitations. Not all projects used the same project management software, and some projects lacked it altogether. Accounting systems typically closed out projects at their conclusion, rendering project data inaccessible.
To illustrate the optimal solution, envision a cotton candy machine. On one side, pink sugar; on another, yellow; on yet another, blue. The machine’s sole purpose is to swirl the sugars together to create cotton candy. This analogy underscores the necessity of a purpose-built hub capable of managing information exchange across all applications—bringing the colors together is the hub’s only job, and ensuring each is distributed correctly and in the right mix to produce the final product.
A dedicated hub and spoke approach offers two key advantages. Firstly, it requires only one integration per application and is highly scalable, with the number of integrations directly proportional to the number of apps. Secondly, it consolidates data, enabling comprehensive business overviews through analytics and forecasting.
I always like to remind contractors that they should not have to be software engineers to run their construction company. Nobody should have to enter the same data more than once in this age of computers.
The latest iteration of Contractor’s Command Post, version 4.0, addresses this integration issue head-on. By connecting existing technologies and empowering contractors to choose the right tools for their projects, this cloud-based solution revolutionizes business management for the industry. Now, contractors can focus on building their business, not their computer network, and enjoy the same sophisticated systems that large enterprises at one time had to build for themselves.
In the end, it’s a pivotal moment for the construction industry. Software can finally be of service to construction business owners, adapting to their business operations rather than the other way around. With the integration dilemma solved, contractors can confidently navigate the digital landscape, streamlining their operations and propelling their businesses to new heights.
About the Author
Peter Lasensky, a pioneer in construction software, is CEO, Command Technologies Inc. He can be reached at email@example.com.