Construction company streamlines operations with Dropbox

Built rolls out online file sharing service

When Australian construction company Built adopted Dropbox to enable the sharing of large files between its offices, construction sites and partners the wide usage of the file sharing software by individuals helped accelerate uptake.  

Built, one of Australia’s largest privately owned construction companies, is active on some 60 project sites and was finding its system for sharing files – over VPN – was holding up progress.  

“Stakeholders, partners, contractors needed to share blueprints, project schedules, design changes, updated architectural drawings,” Built head of IT Wai-Lum Tang told Computerworld. “There was a need to easily share between those users.”  

The company looked at Microsoft OneDrive and Citrix ShareFile but in the end chose Dropbox.

“Dropbox was easy to adopt, easy for anyone to use because a lot of our people were already using it at a personal level, so it was quite natural for us to select Dropbox,” Tang said.  

He added: “It did not matter what devices they were on, it was the same interface. That was one of the main reason user adoption was so easy. We did not have to train users on different endpoints.”  

Dropbox is now part of the company’s mobility strategy centred around a standard operating environment for its remote sites, Airwatch for mobile device management and Okta, which integrates with Dropbox, for single sign on and identity management.  

“Over the last 12 months we have renovated our IT infrastructure,” Tang said. “For most sites we have a standard operating environment that we test and check on a regular basis. It is all connected to a new core via 4G or a fixed network.”  

To support these remote sites, Built relies heavily on its suppliers. “We have good partner networks with our vendors.” Tang said, “BigAir manages our infrastructure as a service and our network and provides on-site support.”  

Dropbox’s ability to integrate with other applications via APIs has also proved valuable. “Integration with the third party ecosystem was easy,” Tang said. “We did not have to learn a new language. The API connectivity between our onsite apps and Dropbox was quite simple to get working.”  

In particular Dropbox is providing integration between two construction industry applications, Fieldwire and Aconex. Fieldwire provides plan viewing, construction management and scheduling and Aconex document management.  

“Fieldwire does not integrate Aconex but by putting Dropbox in the middle we can get them to talk to each other,” Tang said. “We are working on that at the moment and I am sure there will be others down the track.”  

He added: “We also use Dropbox to connect to other productivity tools in our office. We use Trello, we use Slack and they both connect to Dropbox so they are both using a single source of information. Our enterprise service desk system also integrates with Dropbox, so when we are referencing documentation it is all the same.”  

Dropbox’s live comment feature has also proved valuable. “We will adopt that a lot more, particularly the marketing team,” Tang said.   

“They generally need to get approval for documents from key stakeholders. The old process was to email a pdf to everyone or print it out and leave it on their desk to mark up. With the comment feature on Dropbox everybody can make their comments in real time. It has improved the productivity of our marketing team.”  

One integration Dropbox does not have that Tang would like to see is with Outlook. “When you send an email with a large attachment I wish it would automatically take that attachment, put it into Dropbox and send the link,” he said. “It works in the cloud version of Outlook but has not been integrated into the Desktop version. They have said it is coming.”

 

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