Once your investigations to find the ideal estimating software solution begin, you’ll likely have a list of criteria. High on the list should be choosing which platform the software will run on. That is, will the software need to be installed locally and managed in-house or will you instead choose cloud software?
Below we’ll outline the key differences between the two but the important thing to understand from the outset is that the two options are significantly different. By making the right choice early on, your company, your bank statements and your staff will be reaping the benefits for years to come.
Let’s jump straight in and take a look at the two formats, and why cloud software is likely going to be the best choice for your construction or trade business.
We’ll start with the basics and cover off what we mean by these two terms.
First of all, what is Cloud Software?
Cloud software is hosted on a remote server, managed by the software vendor. You can access it from any computer as long as you have a web browser and an internet connection. (A web browser may be for example Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Apple Safari or another).
The cloud software provider takes care of the maintenance of the software including additions of new features and security updates.
The subscription is normally paid for on a monthly or yearly basis. In other words, the software, the maintenance, and everything are rolled into one manageable cost.
What is On-Premise Software?
On-premise software is located on your local server or on your desktop computer. The program is purchased outright and installed on a local machine. It’s up to you to download and install the required updates when necessary.
On-premise software relies less on a consistently reliable internet connection but nowadays as a business, reliable internet is a must and no longer a nice-to-have.
The Key Benefits of Cloud Software
The geographic nature of a construction business is to be spread from the office to the warehouse to the field.
From electrical estimating software to project management tools, the ability to access your data at any time and from anywhere immediately puts you ahead of the competition.
Cloud software allows you and your employees to be mobile, and connected. Instant information availability is the key to successful work coordination. That’s exactly what you get when the software is located in the cloud rather than an office computer.
Below is a summary of why you may want to choose cloud apps over on-premise software.
1. Instant Setup
Purchasing on-premise software means it’s likely you’ll also need to upgrade your hardware. The cost of the software itself is often just the beginning.
With cloud software, you don’t need to worry about deployment. Simply sign up using your existing device and start using the program instantly. In most cases, a free trial is available to ensure the software suits your purpose.
2. Manageable Costs
On-premise software usually requires a significant upfront investment. That is, once you’re confident you’ve made the right choice.
With cloud software, you aren’t responsible for maintenance, updates, resources, and hardware upkeep. You pay a monthly or yearly fee, which can be adjusted depending on the collection of features you use.
3. Integrate a complete solution
Groundplan was built as a cloud-based application for a world of reasons but possibly the biggest advantage is that it allows us to integrate with other complimentary applications to enable our client’s businesses to grow.
Apps such as simPRO or Aroflo enable trade and construction business to manage production and profitability. Xero and Quickbooks manage accounting. Each of these apps can be seamlessly integrated into the trade business workflow to offer a complete end-to-end solution.
4. Accessed from anywhere
This is a huge advantage. With cloud estimating software, no matter where you are in the world, at home, at the office or on the road, where and whenever you need to, log in and continue work.
Logging in from anywhere also means you can log in from any computer. If your laptop or desktop runs into issues, just log in on another system and continue where you left off.
5. Zero maintenance
Software maintenance is time-consuming and can be a real headache to keep localised software up to date.
Using cloud software gives you nothing to maintain. All security and maintenance is left to the software vendor. The same people who develop the software, maintain the software and its infrastructure. No software updates required. Everything is taken care of in the background with no interruption to your productivity.
Why so many contractors choose cloud software
Besides the general benefits of using cloud software, construction companies can enjoy the following advantages:
- Improved productivity and flexibility — the ability to access the program at any time and from anywhere allows all employees to stay up to date with the latest data. A seamless flow of information can help contractors speed up their work while improving its efficiency.
- Disaster protection — a natural disaster or on-premise server failure could cause serious downtime for a construction company. When working with cloud software, you can be sure that data is in a secure environment. It’s being protected by top backup and security protocols.
- Latest updates — cloud software allows you to work with the latest features and functionality designed for the construction industry, helping you stay ahead of the competition.
- Mitigating risk — access to real-time information allows you to solve errors as they occur, thus dealing with project issues before they turn into major problems.
- Seamless collaboration — with all team members having access to real-time information, you can ensure efficient collaboration 24/7.
Using the latest technologies in your construction business doesn’t just simplify work, it keeps customers happy and attracts top talent.
Cloud vs On-Premise: The Takeaway
Small and medium-sized construction companies often choose cloud software because of low upfront investments. With time, they tend to understand the overwhelming advantage cloud apps have over their on-premise counterparts and continue using them for many years.
Cloud software offers what construction businesses need the most — flexibility. By eliminating the strings tying your team to a physical location, you are boosting its efficiency and improving the company’s bottom line.