For architects, digital technologies have long been part of everyday business life. From 3D printers to scanning via drones to 3D visualization of objects using virtual reality, they open up many new possibilities. However, the foundation of any successful project lies in a successful collaboration within the team as well as with other project stakeholders such as customers, builders, technicians or craftsmen. Digitization also has an impact on communication and cooperation in the construction sector.
Flexibility and mobile work are already firmly rooted in the reality of the industry, which has only further enhanced digitalisation. In recent years, multichannel digital communication has been added, that is, communication via different channels such as voice, text and image or video, to which employees are now accustomed since their private lives, so that they can expect these technical possibilities at their workplace.
However, small and medium-sized enterprises, in particular, are still reluctant to implement internal digitization projects due to lack of human resources and IT skills or the fear of high costs. But especially in the construction industry, heavily influenced by competition and technology trends, it is cost-effective for medium-sized planning and architecture firms to think about cloud-based communication and collaboration solutions .
For example, a cloud-based PBX with built-in collaboration capabilities such as live chat or videoconferencing can enhance collaboration across all stakeholders at multiple levels and is also attractive in terms of human and financial resources. For architectural and planning offices, it can therefore be an important tool to position yourself well for the 4.0 work environment.
Multi-channel communication: the optimal communication channel for every situation
With the help of a collaboration and cloud-based solution, architects and planners can collaborate on any device, colleagues, technicians, subcontractors or subcontractors. whether via landline phones, smartphones, computer applications or video conferencing. In this way, the benefits of the communication channels can be fully exploited and, depending on the situation, the medium that best supports the current task can be chosen.
For simple queries, a typical desktop call may be enough. The chat allows you to quickly share files such as permits or sketches and to clarify simple problems in a spontaneous and immediate manner. If digital plans or plans need to be discussed, a member of the team simply shares his or her own screen with the interlocutors. And if a question arises during a visit to a construction site, it may prove more effective to answer it directly on site via a video call or a conference call. With time constraints and tight deadlines in the context of offers, this can be a real benefit.
Mobile and always accessible
With cloud-based communication solutions, architects and planners can be contacted at any time and have access to working documents and information from anywhere. Not only does the cloud support its mobility, but it also transforms the perceived disadvantages into benefits: faster response, increased productivity and efficiency.
In addition, the general accessibility of architectural and planning offices can be further increased by using multiple telephone lines. For example, if an employee is currently communicating, additional callers can be automatically routed to other freelancers through intelligent call routing. It is also possible to pre-qualify the caller by voice dialogue (for example, "Press 1 if you want to be put in contact with your contact, press 2 for a new request"). In intelligent call routing, you can even integrate different branch offices, home offices or even external participants.
Collaboration in the virtual meeting room
A good cloud-based collaboration tool, optimally integrated with the cloud PBX, also functions as a virtual meeting room that can be accessed from any location, device, and anytime. This virtual space allows employees to share important information, sketches, plans, images or contracts. Similarly, the tool should allow the team to create projects, assign tasks with reminders and deadlines, assign them to specific people and mark them as completed. This makes it easy to keep track of project progress and all team members are always up to date.
The associated application also allows architects to view and modify their tasks during site visits. And thanks to the application, his clients can always reach the project manager under his office number, even when he is on the job site.
Ideally, the administrator can assign different permissions. In this way, for example, external participants such as customers or craftsmen can be integrated effectively, but their access to the files may be limited by a lower authorization status.
Little effort, great flexibility
Barriers to digitization often lack operational resources and computer skills. However, unlike locally installed telephony systems, cloud solutions require no installation, low administration and maintenance and, thanks to automatic updates, are always at the cutting edge of technology and are therefore also suitable for planning offices. few architecture. professional resources. All employees can focus on their main tasks without having to worry about IT.
In addition, since telephony and collaboration services are hosted in the cloud, there are no hardware acquisition costs. However, good cloud solutions are compatible with existing modern hardware, such as desktop IP phones, so they can be easily integrated and reused.
Another advantage of cloud solutions is their flexibility and scalability. Especially in the construction sector, where it is competitive, it is important that companies can adapt their technology solutions flexibly to their own needs and not be tied to expensive and complex systems. Cloud-based telephony and collaboration solutions can be tailored to individual needs. For example, the required functions can be grouped individually for each employee and the solutions expanded or reduced flexibly as needed. In this way, costs can be kept to a minimum.
Cloud and security are not mutually exclusive
Of course, cost reduction efforts should not be at the expense of data security. This aspect still worries many companies concerned by the introduction of cloud solutions. However, a lot has happened here in recent years. Of course, cloud communication solutions must comply with the European Data Protection Regulation. In addition, it is advantageous that the servers hosting the solution are located in Germany, thus meeting very strict security standards and all national requirements of the Telecommunications Act.
Simple, seamless communication and efficient collaboration via cloud solutions can not only reduce operating costs, but also have a positive impact on employee and partner satisfaction. In the end, they also contribute to a positive image – which is very valuable for the construction sector – architects and planners know it only too well.
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Specialized article by Roberto Schmidl, Vice President of International Sales and Managing Director of GSMB, Avaya GmbH & Co. KG