Data Synchronization for Construction

Trade Contractors today are living in a constant state of jumping from one cloud provider to another to find project documents losing hours in the process of tracking down information. 

In fact, the average construction worker wastes 23 hours every month just looking for project information across cloud platforms.

Fortunately, there are plugins and integrations that can offer your business an advantage. Keep reading to learn more about how they work, and how to start reaping the rewards.


Understanding the Current Cost of Managing Documents Manually

Talk with your teams about where they're spending time and their challenges when accessing project information and managing documents. How you ask this will impact what you hear, so we've recommended specific questions to ask. As you do, stress that this is not the fault of the individual but a symptom of the construction industry and how information is shared.

  • How much time do you spend going across platforms to find project information?
  • How much time do you spend moving documents from one platform to another?
  • Has that ever caused documents to be out of date or delayed to get to the team? 

Based on our research, you aren't the only company having issues when navigating documents. We found:

  • 85% of trade contractors will have to log into 3 or more document storage solutions just to get their work done each month.
  • 94% of trade contractors have had difficulty finding the correct project information, due to complex folder structures and naming conventions across multiple systems. 

These statistics are the main reason we launched DADO Sync right from the beginning of DADO, and why we have continued to invest in expanding the platforms we integrate with and improvements that reduce admin time.


What is a Sync Integration?

Sync integrations are software applications (either embedded in software or that you download and install) that enable data synchronization.

What do we mean by “data synchronization”? It’s the ongoing process of synchronizing data between two or more devices, updating changes automatically between them to maintain consistency within systems. 

Let me break that down - when you use a sync integration, you can synchronize data across two or more platforms (such as Procore and DADO) so that you automatically keep the information consistent across the two platforms. This gives you accurate, up-to-date project information across the document platforms, without needing to move between different platforms, with different logins (a personal pet peeve!), or dig through different folder structures to find what you need. 

You'll go from wasting hours moving project information from one platform to another every day, to just minutes spent on the setup at the start of a new project. 

For the purposes of this blog post, we’re going to focus on sync integrations between document management platforms (like Egnyte or Sharepoint) and construction project management platforms (like Procore). 


Understanding Sync Integration Options

There isn’t just one way to sync documents and data, so it’s important to understand what the options are, and which meet your needs. Here are the main options we think you should consider:

One- or Two-Way Syncing

A data syncing integration can either pass data from one platform to another (one-way sync) or back and forth between platforms (two-way sync). 

  • One-way sync works when you just want to pull information from one source and deposit it into another platform. It’s great if you want to pull information from multiple platforms into a single information hub.
  • Two-way sync work when you have shared documents that both parties will add to or collaborate in from their own system.

Sync that passes OCR

Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is a process done to documents that are images where the text is recognized and extracted from the document. Some general guidelines on passing OCR data:

  • If you sync from a construction platform like Procore, the platform will OCR the information and will likely include the document OCR automatically in the sync. 
  • If you sync from a cloud document platform like Egnyte, you’ll only get OCR included in the sync if it had been imported from a platform that ran OCR on it in the past. 

Here is an example of OCR data from DADO’s system - all of the handwritten information has been converted to text (blue overlay text) and in our platform easily found with a search. 

Syncing administered data

Construction-specific integrations may pass the administered information on the document in the form of metadata. This is a big productivity win for your team, as you won’t need to key in the information that had already been administered.

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Where to Find Sync Integrations for Construction

There are two main hubs for construction sync integrations - the Procore Marketplace and the Autodesk App Store. Each of these hubs have multiple integration options for cloud storage platforms that you may be using today.

One note on reviewing the integration options - the listing on the search results often doesn’t necessarily explain what it does, so it will take some digging into the app listing or reviewing further materials provided in the app listing. 

In a follow-up blog post, we'll review which integration options are available, and when they might be a good fit for your business, helping to cut down the hunt and peck of what does what in these app hubs.

Navigating the Procore Marketplace 

There's not a specific “sync” category in the marketplace, because integrations cut across multiple categories. But the Search function in the marketplace will allow you to find most (if not all) sync integrations. 

If you don’t see what you're specifically looking for and you're a Procore customer, every Procore account rep gets trained on the different apps in the marketplace, and they can help you with what might be useful.  

For example, the DADO team works closely with the Procore team on where DADO is valuable in the Procore ecosystem, and when our integration may solve a customer problem such as customers who want to easily search all of the text in their Procore documents.


Navigating the Autodesk App Store

Similarly, there is not a sync category in the Autodesk App Store so a search for “sync” is your best bet to find all of the integration options. You can further filter down on product line - and for document syncing you can also filter on “Powered by Autodesk Forge”. All of the data you would want to access exists within Forge and will not be deprecated (turned off) as Autodesk continues to develop and expand its platform offerings. 


How to Assess Integration Options

Now that you have a sense of what kinds of information can be passed, here below are some general guidelines on what to look for. These criteria won’t tell you whether to use the sync, but they'll give you insight into what limitations or benefits there are, and what gaps might remain to consider and make sure you can work around them. 

  • What types of documents are supported - there are separate connectors for each Tool in Procore and Modules in Autodesk. Make sure to check which tools are supported in the integration and that it gives you the data synchronization you need.
  • What data is passed - just documents, OCR data, and administered project information (metadata).
  • What the frequency is - all sync integrations should work automatically, but some are instant and others happen on a schedule. A daily sync should work in most cases, but if you're dealing with daily revisions, you might need instant or push-button updates.
  • What permissions are required - there can be different permission requirements to download the integration app, and to sync the information. Make sure you have the access required or plan to work with the respective admins to explain what support you need. 

Pilot or Trial Data Syncing

When we bring on new customers, we start with a small group and a defined use case and focus on getting it right before a wider rollout. If it's a good fit, we may tune a few things up before we roll it out to more people. If for some reason it isn’t a fit, at least it had minimal impact on your business, and hopefully, we address the gaps or issues in the product with time. 

This practice can help with rolling out any new software, or integration, that changes how your teams will work. 

  • Select a single project or group - it can be hard to do this once a project is underway, so pick a small project or one about to spin up when there aren't thousands of documents to work through. 
  • Narrow in further to specific documents - plans are the top priority based on our experience since this will give you the ability to organize and collaborate on the drawings within your teams.
  • Gather feedback directly from the team - did it work? What are the improvements to be made? Be sure to share that information with your integration partner: the more customers who share common feedback, the more likely it will get on a product roadmap as a future improvement.

Making Integrations Part of your Document Management Process

Once you have set up your data syncing within your organization, the ideal state is to ensure for every project that your teams have access to all of the latest information, in a single platform, that can be accessed all from an easy-to-carry mobile device, from a computer in the trailer, or back at the office. 

At DADO we call that the "information hub" where all of the information about a project can be accessed from anywhere, ideally with as little administrative upkeep as possible. 

Learn more about how DADO's document platform works and if it might be the right fit for your business.