The right technology and a solid crisis plan can make all the difference when disaster strikes
Like so many before it, Hurricane Dorian left a swath of destruction across low-lying Caribbean nations and the east coast of the United States. Hurricanes, fires, floods or other disasters can significantly impact communities and in their wake, construction companies are relied on to quickly get things moving in a positive direction. To ensure your construction firm can immediately get to the business of helping its community it’s vital to have a meticulous crisis plan — and the right technology — in place.
Contractors rely on heaps of data to facilitate complex construction projects, using multiple applications and with hundreds, if not thousands, of workers tracking data. As contractors already (hopefully) know, protecting this information against cyber-attacks and other daily threats, is paramount to maintaining business continuity. If your data is compromised, so are your business workflows. We don’t often think about how our operations would be affected should a natural disaster occur — but we should be. And, the same strategies we apply to cybersecurity can be used to protect a construction company against loss of data in the case of a disaster.
Building a Better Crisis Plan
An effective disaster plan includes but isn’t limited to data. Foundational crisis plans include steps to protect all areas of your business. Will your employees and customers be safe? Do employees know your disaster plan and what to do in the event of one? Will physical assets be protected and are they properly insured? Here are just a few things to consider for your crisis checklist:
- Do employees have an area where they can “shelter in place” if needed?
- Are emergency contacts current for all employees?
- Does an easy to understand and enact chain of command exist, with sets of responsibilities for when disasters occur?
- Is sensitive personal information like employee and customer records securely backed up?
- Is project data backed up to ensure limited business disruption?
- Are your company’s physical buildings and/or projects underway up to all safety codes?
- Is there a reliable inventory of equipment/assets and is documentation like insurance, contracts, etc. up to date and backed up?
- Do you maintain a list of vendor and subcontractors contacts so that information can be shared collaboratively on timely basis?
A solid disaster plan should include answers to all of the above and more. The best plans can get quite detailed and they should be consistently reviewed, practiced and updated to net the best results should an incident occur.
Securing the Data
Regardless of a crisis plan, contractors should be backing up files and data — in multiple places at all times. Having continual access to your data is essential should local devices or servers go down. By ensuring critical data files are routinely backed up in more than one location is a vital part of any crisis plan and means that work can continue as planned.
Traditionally that has meant having both an on-site backup and a backup at a remote location. Not only do on-premise and remote physical backups prove costly to maintain, they require consistent time and attention to ensure backups are happening and data is being updated.
And should these physical servers fail, backups are not consistently done, or a disaster is large enough to compromise backup locations as well, then your organization could be in trouble.
With cloud-based, integrated construction management software, however, you can put the onus on maintaining servers and backing up data on the software provider. Project and business data backups happen automatically, providing daily protection, with costs often included or rolled into users’ subscription costs. That eliminates expensive capital assets for servers or IT strain and overhead to consistently maintain the hardware.
New software features and security functionality are also rolled out automatically. By coupling the backups with cybersecurity protections, cloud vendors use the latest technologies to thwart cybercriminals, providing an extra level of protection not otherwise achieved through in-house backups, but also giving contractors the needed backups of data throughout the company’s information.
Check out this informative blog on 12 reasons contractors are moving to cloud-based software.
A Real-World Case Study
Hindsight is often 20/20, and in some cases, the need for a solid disaster strategy is better realized after an incident occurs. That was true for Beyer Group Ltd., when Hurricane Harvey’s floodwaters drowned outdated software systems at the Texas-based company.
When the 2017 storm hit, Beyer’s key role of maintaining emergency infrastructure, levees and drainage took a step back as the company’s web-facing server setup on-premise lost access to vital data that was needed to ensure it could still effectively operate and help the rest of the community. As the Beyer website went down, teams were locked out of access to email, company directories and data that included emergency contacts, job costing, job numbers and codes, customer contacts, equipment start codes and operator names. Getting Beyer Group mobilized to help the city of Houston was met with unneeded challenges and delays.
The difficulty in supplying needed support to the city — the backbone of the business — was enough to prompt change.
“It was an easy move after the hurricane,” says Gene Krejci, Beyer, the company’s chief financial officer. “We decided to go to the cloud with as much as we could. It took less than a week for us to come to the decision to move.”
The transition to the cloud-based version of its construction management software, Spectrum, took less than a day and with no downtime. Beyer’s efficiency improved dramatically with access to real-time data and functionality, and the entire company has become more collaborative and interconnected, while becoming more mobile with improved off-site connectivity.
“With these technology changes, I can move quicker than (other companies) can,” Krejci says. “There are going to be some bigger changes in construction technology soon, so, if they’re not already in the cloud, they’re already behind.”
To learn more about how cloud-based construction software can give your organization the data security and business continuity it needs to weather any disaster, contact Viewpoint today!