Now more than ever, CMT pros need technology that not only solves the immediate issues of today but also continues to pay dividends down the line. In this blog, we discuss four major features that make certain your technology is future proof.
Technology changes fast. While some industries lead the charge, the construction industry has lagged behind the rest of the digitized world. But as demands for heightened productivity, accuracy and transparency pile up, and as COVID-19 continues to force everyone to the cloud, more construction firms are exploring ways to catch up.
This doesn’t mean you can just search for a band-aid solution that will solve the short-term needs of social distancing and remote work. For technology to really pay off, you need something that will ground your CMT workflow in the modern world. Something future proof.
Building blocks of a future proof CMT solution
#1. Cloud-based Platform
Generally speaking, the cloud is a major enabler of future proof technology. This is because on-premise or stand-alone solutions age out, and cloud-based software can be continuously and remotely updated without interruptions.
It’s important to note – a cloud-based platform is not cloud-based storage. Cloud-based storage is defined as flat files shared on a server that are manually organized into a folder structure. An integrated cloud-based platform is relational and defined by free-flowing data that can be synced to other software programs. You have many options if you want to move to the cloud, but this difference between a platform and storage is key.
A cloud-based platform provides structure to a lab’s testing, analytics, data access and security needs. Putting this at the center of your workflow will help your people, processes and other associated technology work together better.
The cloud also makes it easy to control access to test data. Permitted users can each have their own login – no need to share raw, read-only files or editable spreadsheets. Lastly, the cloud makes remote work possible for project managers, administrators, accountants and other stakeholders. This functionality has never been more important than right now.
An integrated cloud platform makes CMT workflows more productive, accurate and transparent. And by nature of the cloud, these processes are much more future proof, so if other systems change, this one can keep up.
#2. Integration Capabilities
The above benefits of a cloud-based platform are only possible if you can integrate the CMT components involved. Integrations allow results to sync and move freely between multiple systems such as the cloud database, testing machine, LIMS, accounting system and more.
Whenever you buy equipment or software, you must evaluate its capability to integrate with other systems. It should be able to adapt to any new systems or changes down the line. Ask yourself the following questions to determine if your software of choice is future proof:
- Does the inherent design allow for integration (flat files don’t integrate)?
- What is the current range and depth of integrations available in the software provider’s portfolio?
- Does the provider offer integrations with other products and software your firm already uses?
- Does the solution provider have an open API? Is it behind a paywall, or is it readily available to customers and partners?
- Does the provider offer setup or rollout support for the integration?
- What is the solution provider’s roadmap for future integrations?
These questions should be painless. If the solution cannot be easily integrated into your existing process and systems, it’s not going to help you. The roadmap for future integrations is especially important. If things change, will this software be able to adapt?
At the end of the day, you want to look for a solution that doesn’t need to change every time other dynamics in your company change. For example, if you decide to move to a different LIMS down the road, you shouldn’t have to deconstruct your entire workflow to make that possible. The integrated, cloud-based platform should sit at the center and enable an easy pivot for your organization.
#3. Short Learning Curve
Technology is only as good as it is usable. When you introduce new software into your testing environment, it should transform your process. It shouldn’t make it more difficult to get the work done (another reason why integrating into your existing equipment and systems is so important).
Learning curves are inevitable, but they shouldn’t be a roadblock in the adoption and training process. Can long-term employees easily replace their old way of doing things with this platform? Can new employees quickly pick up on the process? The answer should be yes to all of these questions.
This short learning curve also applies to the platform’s integration capabilities. You might have tools that you are used to using and want to continue using, but you know that the cloud-based platform can enhance the overall workflow. How easy is it for you to connect the systems?
For example, maybe you are really familiar with using Microsoft’s Power BI tool, but it takes you hours to add the data you need to generate these reports. Well, a cloud-based platform with an open API should easily be able to connect your CMT results to Power BI – taking seconds to accumulate data and report on it instead of hours. With a short learning curve, you can configure your systems exactly the way you’re comfortable using them. Again, the platform enhances and transforms your workflow, but you’re empowered to continue using the tools you need in lockstep.
#4. Quick Technical Support
Lastly, technology is only as future proof as the company that supports it.
Once you buy a cloud-based solution, you want to know that there’s an experienced, dedicated team that knows the unique issues of construction materials testing – so they know how to tailor solutions to your exact needs. There should be a quick startup and turnaround for firms that really need the immediate support.
To ensure that this is the level of support you get with your technology, ask for references. That’s the best way to ensure that the company you’re about to invest in is future proof.
CMT workflows must evolve. Before COVID-19, firms could get by on paper-based testing and data management protocols. But once it’s over, the world will have moved beyond them. And it will be much more difficult to catch up. There is simply no better time than right now to invest in a cloud-based platform that is relatively simple to integrate and adopt, and backed by a team of CMT experts.
Want to future proof your CMT workflow with a cloud-based platform? ForneyVault can help. Book a demo with us today to see how it works.