How Architects Can Get The Most Out Of The Cloud
You’ve probably heard about “the cloud” already, but maybe you don’t really know what exactly the cloud is or how it could even help you. The good news is that you don’t need to spend time learning about how it works – all you need to know is that the cloud will save you time and help you become a more efficient architect.
“The cloud” is basically a collective term for online services that are run on servers managed by someone else, rather than on your own computer. Cloud software is accessible from any device connected to the internet and takes the hassle out of administrative tasks so you can get on with what you’re best at: architecture.
Still not sure? Let’s look at some of the ways this technology could save your company hours of time every single week.
No Installation or Maintenance
Cloud software is run over the internet and you often don’t need to install anything on your computer. Most cloud software can be up and running in just a couple of minutes and you won’t need to worry about time-consuming updates or maintenance – just log into your online account and off you go.
For an example, take a look at Sefaira: software for architects / designers who aspire to design high performance buildings. You can sign up directly from the website and be using the program within 15 minutes.
Grow as Fast as You Can
A booming architecture business will be limited by hardware and software that is insufficient for its needs. Cloud software is extremely scalable and will follow your needs – you just pay for what you need at the time.
For example, project management software Basecamp costs $20 per month for a small company. As your business grows, you can easily update to the next plan with a mouse click – no need to worry about buying new servers or hiring additional IT staff.
Accessible Anywhere, Always
Cloud software is accessible anywhere, any time, so there’s no need to worry about emailing files between personal and business accounts or bringing home all the files you need from the office over the weekend.
Take cloud accounting and invoicing software, Freshbooks, for example: You’ll always have access to your invoices and have an overview of your accounts, wherever you are. Check out how architect Jonathon Zilka uses Freshbooks to make his life as an architect easier.
Backups, Always, Everywhere
Ever had a hard disk crash? Or lost your iPad? Someone broke in and stole your laptop? Then you know that backups are a necessity for your business. If you are not backing up your crucial data, sooner or later you will run into serious problems. Backups are not optional.
Cloud software manages the whole backup process for you, saving your data and your time. Cloud providers make it their problem to safely back up your data so you can forget about it. Maintaining servers, software and backups is their core business.
Take Highrise, a simple CRM application, for example. Since all your data is “in the cloud” and not on your own computer, a stolen laptop doesn’t mean you just lost all of your customer data. Everything is always safely backed up.
For the rest of your data (like all your local PDF blueprints), there are cloud backup solutions that will back up your entire computer automatically every night. Blackblaze and Crashplan are just two examples of cloud backup services that you could use and are priced very affordably.
Easy Online Collaboration and Communication
Cloud services run over the internet, making instant and direct collaboration easy. Forget about emailing files back and forward to your colleagues – the cloud allows you to work together remotely on the same projects and files.
You’re probably familiar with Dropbox, which allows you to easily share files with anyone in the world. Google Drive offers a (cheaper) alternative and also gives you access to editing tools from within the application. Edits are shown in real time, allowing you and a colleague to work together on the same file from different locations.
Google Calendar is another super-efficient way to manage your office agenda. It includes shared calendars, invitations, reminders and so much more – all for free.
Remote Working and Outsourcing
Outsourcing repetitive and easy tasks that take up all your time but don’t really add true value to your business is another way that cloud services can help save you time and money. Odesk.com lets you find and hire virtual assistants from anywhere in the world, easily outsource tasks, and lets you follow up everything your VA (virtual assistant) is doing via regular screenshots of their screen during their working hours.
Mobile and Tablet Friendly
Mobile compatibility is important for architects that are traveling a lot back and forward to different construction sites, their office and clients. While you probably won’t check your invoices on the construction site, you might want to use your mobile or tablet to gather field report data.
Our software for creating field reports and punch lists, ArchiSnapper, offers an extremely powerful combination of mobile application and cloud storage. Architects and construction professionals use it to capture notes, photos and sketches on site, sync seamlessly to the cloud and generate a PDF field report in seconds.
CAD, BIM and more…
Here are some other cloud software examples you might want to check out:
- http://www.bqe.com/ – project management software
The Future is Cloud-Shaped
The apps I’ve covered here just scratch the surface of the potential of cloud computing for architects. With software getting more powerful and internet connections getting faster all the time, it’s pretty clear that we’re moving more towards a cloud-based way of working.
If you’re still tied to your office computer and wasting time sending files over email, try signing up for a few of these cloud applications and seeing how much time you save every week – the results may just surprise and delight you.