Tag: <span>Cloud Storage</span>

Being smart about Smartphones

By Tom Whitaker, RT3 Board Member.

Software companies like Harness can provide contractors with incredible value but there’s one important element that is often overlooked that can derail any software implementation.

Field personnel not using adequate or properly managed mobile devices.

After all, if the device that they carry is not up to the task if it gets lost or damaged, it’s going to be pretty hard for the foreman to submit that safety report.

In this article, we’re going to identify some of the common problems when it comes to mobile devices and point out some best practices to solve them.

Should You Provide Devices or Let Employees Use Their Own?

Employee Owned Devices

Since most workers these days are already carrying a smartphone it may appear easier to let them use their own devices to access company applications. It’s what’s known as Bring Your Device or BYOD. Some companies have gone this route and provided a small reimbursement to employees to cover data usage costs. While this could be a very cost-effective approach, be aware that there are numerous complications that may befall companies choosing this strategy. Those would include:

Lack of adequate device capabilities.

Is the employee cheapest smartphone available or top of the line iPhone? Does it have a 3 inch screen that makes it hard to see the application you want them to use? Since you have no control over what the employee purchases, you need to be prepared for all possibilities.

Lack of device protection and/or replacement options

The mobile device is going to be used on or near the job site. What is it’s dropped off the roof, damaged, and the employee doesn’t have the ability to replace it right away. Will they still be able to perform their work? Likely not.

Lack of data security

We often entrust our workers with sensitive information such as job lists, estimates, customer contact information, and more. If their personal device is used to access this information, how will we ensure that it’s kept secure? Will we have the ability to remotely wipe lost or stolen devices?

If you’re going the BYOD route here are some things you can do to protect yourself:

Create a Mobile Device Policy For Employees that they must sign off on. It should cover:

  • Minimum device standards (screen size, memory, Operating systems, etc..)
  • Required accessories. For example, a protective case
  • Guidelines for handling sensitive company information

Invest in Mobile Device Management Software and require it be installed on employee-owned devices. We’ll talk more about that below.

Deploying Company-Owned Devices

While admittedly a larger expense than BYOD, especially at the outset, the level of control that deploying your own fleet of mobile devices cannot be understated. You may well find the benefits far outweigh the costs. With your own fleet of devices you’ll be able to:

  • Ensure a consistent and likely improved experience for everyone in your organization
  • Keep tighter controls on sensitive company information
  • Better protect the physical devices themselves and replace them easier when needed
  • Prevent employee misuse. For example, viewing/downloading porn

Best practices for companies that deploy their own fleet of mobile devices

Everyone should use the same type of device.

Keeping things consistent makes managing the fleet smoother. Applications will function the same on every device and you won’t need multiple sets of instructions for end users.

iOS vs. Android

I could write another entire article on the differences between these two operating systems. Your choice should depend on a mixture of compatibility and price. For example, if the apps that your team are going to be using function better on iOS, then you’ll likely want to go that way. I will say since Android is open source, it can be found on a far greater range of devices with various price points. If you’re particularly budget conscience, you should strongly consider Android rather than iOS.

Tablet or Phone?

Once again this decision should factor in the application(s) that will be used. Some types of apps work better on larger screen devices like tablets. Others can be used with simple smartphones. Engage your app provider to seek advice on what devices types would be best. The unique needs of your users shouldn’t be overlooked either. Is your team made up of extremely large fingered lads that wouldn’t appreciate a dainty device? Get them a tablet. Or perhaps you have a lot of older, farsighted foreman. Get input from your group before making a decision.


Every device should be given to its user in a ruggedized case of some type. Otterbox makes them for most models. Screen protectors are also good idea considering these devices are going to be used on construction sites and the likelihood of them being dropped or damaged is very real. Which brings me to…

This rugged new phone from CAT has a built in FLIR camera, laser distance finder, and more to help construction workers get things done.

Keep A Few Extras

Having 1-2 extra devices laying around for when someone new is hired or a device is lost is a lot easier than waiting for an ordered replacement and the extra cost should be negligible.

Invest In Mobile Device Management (MDM)

Mobile device management software allows company administrators to enforce security measures on all devices such as passwords, encryption, etc. They can also restrict which types of apps can be installed and web pages that can be visited, thus preventing employee misuse. Devices that are lost or stolen can be remotely wiped of all data at the push of a button. There are MDM options to fit a range of budgets. Some options include Airwatch, Meraki, and Google Apps For Work. More on that last one in a future article.

What About Connectivity?

Once you’ve decided on which device is best for your company, you’ll need to determine the best options for data plans and calling from carriers in your area. This process deserves its own article and we’ll be publishing one in the near future as part of our “Ultimate Guide” series.


Making smart decisions about the mobile devices your company is using is a good idea. They are going to become more and more important as you seek to solve urgent business problems that require data capture from your field staff. Hopefully, now you understand how to best manage your mobile device fleet.

Source: Harness

4 Ways Software Can Give Roofers a Better Work Life Balance

By Molly Stein, AccuLynx.

For roofers, it can be challenging to balance your busy work life and personal home life. When you’re busy at the job site all day or on the road, your evenings can be dominated by playing catch-up with your office work or reporting, instead of with your family at home.

Mental Health America encourages workers to develop a healthy balance between work and downtime, stating,

“While we all need a certain amount of stress to spur us on and help us perform at our best, the key to managing stress lies in that one magic word: balance. Not only is achieving a healthy work/life balance an attainable goal but workers and businesses alike see the rewards. When workers are balanced and happy, they are more productive, take fewer sick days, and are more likely to stay in their jobs.”

Luckily, advancements in cloud-based technology like those in AccuLynx roofing software can help contractors re-establish that balance by giving them access to the information they need, while providing time savings that they can invest back into their personal life.

Emails, Texts, Phone Calls – All in One Place

Maintaining communication with your office is a crucial part of running a roofing business. But when that communication is spread out over emails from your accounting department, texts from your foreman, and phone calls from your project manager it can all get a little distracting.

Activity feeds and production dashboards can bring together all of the correspondence and data that you need to run your business and collate it into one simplified location with everything you need to know and see in one place.

Eliminate Extra Trips to the Office

When you’re in the field all day, it can be difficult to find the time to stop and check on the status of your other projects, file your paperwork and catch up on your emails – which often means a trip back to the office after an already long day.

When your office is cloud-based, software platforms give roofers comprehensive access to their important files, including estimates, signed contracts, warranties, and more. When roofers can access, edit, and submit their paperwork digitally, they can avoid that extra trip to the office.

Something on Your Mind?

Have you ever felt completely monopolized by work even at the oddest hours of the night or even on vacation? As a business owner or manager, it’s probably hard to focus when you’ve got a nagging question or just want to check one more thing…

Mobile apps let you check in on your job progress or stay up to date with your communication. Skim the Activity Feed, do a quick review of your job statuses and get the peace of mind you need quickly without letting it stop your day.

Get Things Done Right the First Time

Roofers often need to fill out a lot of paperwork on the job site. When you’re collecting contact information, insurance details, measurements and photos of the damages over and over, it can be easy to miss a form field, misspell a name, or even submit the wrong material order for a job.

Smart templates can pre-populate job information for you so that you save time creating estimates and contracts. When you create all of your paperwork within a job file, paperwork isn’t misfiled or misplaced, and all of your information is the same across your documentation, ensuring you won’t have mistakes that need correcting later.

Having a healthy balance between a home life and work is a crucial part of your business. Remember,

“Your work-life balance will determine your career and life successes, so make sure you take the time to focus on each role and balance them accordingly.”

Source: AccuLynx

Cloud Technology and the Construction Industry

By Cotney Construction Law.

A critical component of the construction industry is the flow of information. On a daily basis, blueprints, daily reports, change reports, and punch lists are passed among contractors, architects, and subcontractors. That’s just a small list of the information that’s being dispersed. If that’s not enough, the construction environment is fast moving and not all parties are in the same location. In years pass, these details made communication slow and hitting project deadlines a matter of chance. Enter cloud technology.

The “cloud” refers to a remote server that stores data and software. From a technological standpoint, the cloud allows construction companies to keep massive amounts of information in a place that is accessible from anywhere that you can establish a wifi or cellular connection. In terms of day to day operation, the cloud is making an impact in a number of areas. That’s why 59 percent of construction companies surveyed by the Associated General Contractors of America and Sage say that they are either using a cloud solution or planning to use one.

The cloud presents a number of benefits to construction companies. Here are a few:

Access to information anywhere. There was a time where plans had to be carried from job site to job site in big tubes. Construction sites are dirty places and items are easily lost. With the cloud, information can be accessed from anywhere with a mobile device. Oftentimes, information is housed in an office, while work is done in the field. Now, information is more easily attained and more accurate.

Real-time collaboration. Similarly, the parties that are involved in a construction project, developers, designers, contractors, and subcontractors are typically in different places. Sometimes different cities. Meeting in person takes time and effort. Phone calls alone leave gaps in information. A cloud solution allows all parties to see construction plans in real time, collaborate on them, and make decisions. It’s a more seamless way of reaching consensus and reduces the types of conflicts that would require the help of a construction law attorney to settle.

Secure data. It may seem counterintuitive that a platform that exists remotely can be more secure than saving files on your own desktop, but the advances in cloud technology make that the case. With many cloud solutions, data is backed up nightly. More importantly, many cloud solution providers use more sophisticated security and antivirus tools than the average user employs on their desktop. Additionally, computers can be stolen or compromised.

Cost-effective solution. Let’s face it, you are going to need a data storage solution at some point. If your company is even moderately successful, you will accumulate a great deal of data. Physical servers are one solution, but they are expensive to purchase and maintain. A cloud solution is much more affordable and is scalable. As your need for data storage grows, so too can your space in the cloud.

As our construction lawyers have noted in previous articles, the construction site is a fast-paced environment. Skilled tradesmen are busy working on various aspects of the project. Materials move back and forth on the job site. Subcontractors work to complete critical components of a structure. All of this is done under strict timelines. However, for the pace at which construction moves, a fundamental part of the process has always hampered it– paperwork. From contracts to change orders, paperwork is a major part of our industry. Collaboration has always been difficult because all parties have to be in the same place. Now with cloud technology, this is no longer the case.

Note: This first published as a two-part article on Cotney Construction Law’s website and can be viewed here.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

Advantages of Cloud-Based CRM Software for Contractors

By FollowUp CRM.

Being cloud-based means contractors can readily access customer information from anywhere at any time.

Working in sales can often be spontaneous, as you never know what your client may want next. To be a part of a good sales team, you must be ready at a moment’s notice for whatever your customer wants. Cloud-based CRM software for contractors allows sales team members the ability to access their sales data from anywhere and at any time.

Cloud-based computing is beginning to take over all aspects of the Internet industry as downloadable proprietary software falls out-of-date. Liberating sales team members from the confines of the office allows them to become more mobile and better suited to fulfill customer needs. Concurrently, this allows for sales representatives to make more in-person sale pitches to prospective clients. Despite all advances in technology, nothing can beat the human touch of a personalized sales pitch.

Business and technology are constantly changing, but, unfortunately, many construction contractors still remain in the past with their customer relations and sales techniques. Be sure to choose a software that has been specifically tailored to bring construction contractors into the modern age of cloud-based computing and has been designed by construction workers for the construction industry.

Note: This article first appeared on FollowUp CRM’s blog and can be viewed here.

Top Roofing Technology Trends for 2018

By: Brad Foster, AccuLynx.

As companies continue to expand within their local markets, the demand for roofing technology to support advances in business management, sustainability, and material trends has increased alongside that growth.

Companies that take advantage of new, cutting-edge roofing technology will be at an advantage as they continue to increase efficiency on the job site, as well as within their organizations through better business management processes.

Drone Technology for Roofers

Drones have taken the world by storm and have become a popular toy for all ages. Their role as a tool for roofing businesses, however, is just starting to emerge. Drones with 4K cameras allow sales teams to take detailed pictures of problem spots and identify safety hazards without having an inspector climb onto the roof, immediately reducing risk before a job begins. These images can be shown to customers to help them visually understand where repairs are needed, as well as to your crew before a job begins to make work more efficient. As drones become more advanced, their potential to be a useful tool increases, and it may be time to evaluate their usefulness to your own company.

 Roofing Safety Innovations

Safety is always a top concern for onsite crews, and steps can and should always be taken to reduce risk on a job. While protocols and careful management can reduce the potential for mistakes, accidents do happen.

Roofing technology trends that have a direct impact on the safety of your field teams can dramatically reduce common risk factors:

  • Companies like Redpoint Positioning are integrating GPS into safety equipment so that they can mark hazards by proximity and warn crew members when they may be approaching a dangerous area.
  • Other companies are putting sensors into safety vests that can detect body temperature and heart rate to tell workers when they’re starting to overheat.
  • Research is also being done to put airbags into the neck of safety vests that expand when a sensor detects a sudden vertical drop. Using computers and sensors built into equipment has the potential to significantly reduce the risk on a jobsite.

Applying Environmental Efficiency to Roofing Materials

The demand by homeowners for environmental efficiency is becoming increasingly important and its effects on the roofing industry are apparent, especially for material manufacturers. Many shingle manufacturers are creating new eco-friendly products that may appeal to homeowners financially as well as the added home benefit of reducing their carbon footprint. Reflective granules allow for shingles to reflect more of the sun’s heat, lowering air conditioning costs in the summer.

Solar panels can be inserted into roofs, but usually do not offer enough weather protection to be used as a significant building material. Building applied photovoltaics are solar panels built for roofing. They are tough enough to withstand severe weather, are tileable for easy application, and come in different types and colors for both commercial and residential uses. Work still needs to be done before photovoltaic systems will be able to completely replace conventional roofing systems, but as time goes on their potential as a green and financially viable alternative to regular shingles only rises.

Offering homeowners eco-friendly options during roof replacement or repair can help businesses increase market potential compared to other companies who do not offer specialty services.

Marketing Tools for Roofers

Companies are constantly bringing in new leads and completing different jobs, often making it a headache to keep track of the necessary information for each customer. Software for roofing companies with Customer Relationship Management (CRM) capabilities streamline this process. Newer programs are capable of tracking traditional information such as address and contact information, but also allow for searchable tags like geographical location, job timeline, or communication history.

Integration with programs such as Smart Documents and supplier pricing tools allows you to bring your office with you when meeting a customer. All of your necessary paperwork is always with you, and estimates can be constructed and altered for customers in just minutes. The ability to store customer information in a customized database greatly increases organization and ensures the customer is well taken care of.

Managing a roofing company is difficult; you have to keep track of leads and salesmen, scheduling crews, ordering materials, collecting payment, and countless other important details. Using an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software to combine all of these systems into a single dashboard will make this process substantially more efficient. Advanced ERP’s will allow you to track a job from lead to completion while offering tools to aid every step along the way. From cloud-based documentation to online ordering tools to Quickbooks integration, ERP’s offer limitless utility to streamline the entire job process.

New roofing technologies are constantly being invented and are changing the industry all the time. Keep an eye out for new innovative products, tools, and software that can be used to help your company grow.

Note: This article first appeared on the AccuLynx blog and can be viewed here.

Benefits of Digital Documents – Part 2

On jobsites across this country, construction professionals are drowning in paperwork.

This industry requires a great deal of documentation from contracts to site plans to change orders and for many years, this documentation was put in print. Needless to say, print documentation comes with a myriad of issues. Documentation gets misplaced or is not available when you need it. Also, for many years, construction professionals dealt with the time and money lost by using paper documents.

One best practice that is emerging to alleviate time lost is the use of digital documentation. Digital documentation is allowing teams to collaborate better and is making documents available at any time and in any place.

In the first part of this series, we discussed a number of benefits digital documents are bringing to construction companies. The cost and time savings can’t be ignored. That’s why we have created a second part to discuss additional benefits.

The benefits of digital documentation include:

Preventing lost documents

The construction industry is a fast-moving one. Most contractors have to move frequently from jobsite to office. It’s only natural that items may get lost along the way. When they do, the outcome is costly. Rather than carrying important files everywhere, use the digital documents in the cloud to access your files from any location. Not having to search through paper files for important information can save you a great deal of time.

Continuous updates and collaboration

A document that’s printed out can only be changed if the file is adjusted and the document is printed out again. Digital documents can change as information or data is gathered. It can also be changed by multiple parties. Documents can exist among contractors, subcontractors, and architects to ensure that there’s always a clear picture of what’s happening on a jobsite. It also helps avoid the disputes that require the help of a Lakeland construction lawyer.

It’s good for the environment

It’s important to remember the impact printing has on our environment. Using digital documentation allows your company to consume less paper, toner, and ink, which can also save you money.

This blog first appeared on Cotney Construction Law’s website and can be viewed here.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.

Benefits of a Digital Document Control System – Part 1

For an industry that is as physical as the construction industry, there is a ton of paperwork.

Historically, paperwork has been a part of doing business. Whether it’s a contract, design plans, change orders, or bank draws, it’s not official unless it’s in writing. This can create a myriad of issues. Items get lost. It takes a long time to correct documents. Collaboration is cumbersome. To generate the efficiency needed to keep projects moving, new solutions were needed.

Document control systems are not a new concept; however, digitizing documents and the system as a whole is relatively new. Much of the paper world is going digital and paperwork-heavy industries such as construction are being transformed. Contracts, financial documents, daily reports, and a host of other work-related documents are going digital.

If you are still on a paper system, consider the following benefits of going to a digital document control system:

Speed up approval by speeding up access

Digital document control systems allow for collaboration on design documents, project plans, and contracts, among other items. Since the documents can be accessed in real time, discussion and changes can happen at a much faster pace. Also, you are now able to see who accessed documents at any given time, which holds members of a group accountable for any changes. This can come in handy if a dispute arises and you need the help of a construction lawyer.

Reduce storage space

Let’s face it, paperwork takes up a lot of space. As a company grows, this paper has to go somewhere. It’s not uncommon for companies to rent storage facilities to maintain archival paperwork. However, years of information can be housed digitally at a fraction of the cost. All of this information can be accessed using keywords, which makes the search for documents faster as well.

Save money on printing

In tandem with reducing storage space, a digital document control system can save money on printing. Contracts are extensive and require a great deal of printing. Project plans are also long. When you are printing these and other documents over and over, the price begins to add up. Digital documents completely eliminate this cost. Also, it’s easier to employ a system for organizing documents because they exist on cloud or hard drive storage and can be accessed via the device of your choice.

This blog first appeared on Cotney Construction Law’s website and can be viewed here.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.