How do you store your information?

abstract image for story about to store information
Image: Funtap P | Dreamstime.com

With changes in the legislative landscape, professional indemnity (PI) requirements, the introduction of the Building Safety Act (BSA) and a focus on the golden thread of information, how you store your project information is now of fundamental importance, explains Atvero’s Marcus Roberts.

Securing where you store your information is also critical, as the present-day choice between local physical and cloud-based storage will impact your firm 30 years from now.

The implementation of the BSA has shifted the way construction firms need to think about their project information, with the golden thread’s main principles prioritising accurate, trusted and accessible information to manage building safety, supporting resident assurances, and ensuring a firm’s accountability. Serving as a single source of truth, its aim is to promote consistency, record document changes, and maintain the longevity of project information.

A crucial factor of the golden thread to consider is the manner and duration of storing project information, as it’s mandated not only by the BSA, but also by PI insurance providers.

“A crucial factor of the golden thread to consider is the manner and duration of storing project information, as it’s mandated not only by the BSA, but also by PI insurance providers.”

Marcus Roberts

PI insurance may now require firms to demonstrate their understanding of and compliance with the BSA, as the change in legislation exposes firms to higher risks of litigation. The maintenance of project information over long periods is a key part of the BSA and a potential red flag for PI insurers, as many firms still rely on potentially risky physical mediums, such as paper files or local servers.

By addressing project information storage methods correctly, construction firms and professionals can streamline their workflows and reduce admin time and non-compliance panic.

Local physical servers vs cloud-based systems

Local physical servers initially provided firms with the necessary digital upgrade from paper filing that was desperately needed in the industry. However, with the introduction of the cloud and myriad cloud-based systems, onsite physical servers have become an outdated storage method.

Hazards that could threaten information stored in such physical servers include flooding, power surges and hardware malfunctions. There are also no parameters in place to monitor how information is being stored, which can lead to a chaotic, unorganised system.

If a firm is currently maintaining project information on local physical servers, or is planning to, it’s imperative that they write into their contract that:

  • they will always be granted access to their information, without any extra or added cost; and
  • the server provider will guarantee that the information will be held for the next 30 years or more to stay compliant with the BSA.

With a physical storage system, it’s also recommended that annual data checks are carried out to ensure there are no data breaches, issues or loss of information within the system, as these also extend to software, security and ownership, which falls under the data owner’s responsibility to monitor.

Aside from these initial physical risks, there is also the issue of storage and the servers themselves, as they are often bulky and require specialised maintenance. With technology developing at the same – if not faster – rate, server hardware is guaranteed to become antiquated. In fact, server providers could charge clients to reboot old systems that are no longer in circulation, or run the risk of them becoming extinct.

“Have you set up a reliable digital storage system that will keep your information safe, accessible and secure for the next 30 years?”

Marcus Roberts

With these rising risks associated with physical, onsite, server-based storage of project information, construction firms need an all-encompassing alternative.

Enter the cloud

The cloud has enabled a new level of information storage, aiding compliance with the BSA, with cloud-based systems structured to give firms document, drawing and email management services on a durable, encrypted platform.

The cloud adds an extra layer of dependability for construction firms, as security features and data encryption can prevent data breaches and loss of information, while maintaining the original ownership of the stored information. This guarantee that the data will not be lost due to external factors means that firms don’t need to carry out the annual checks recommended for physical servers as it is available there and then.

Having access to your data storage system instantaneously is favorable for construction firms in dealing with claims efficiently. Document, drawing and email management systems built on the cloud amplify this accessibility: having a searchable, organised system specified for the construction industry streamlines workflows and enables information to be found quickly, reducing the risk of litigation.

‍Question time

How effectively are you managing your project information? If you find yourself struggling to answer any of the following questions, you may need to consider implementing a cloud-based system:

  • Have you set up a reliable digital storage system that will keep your information safe, accessible and secure for the next 30 years?
  • Are you regularly checking and updating your storage technology to keep up with changes and ensuring your data stays secure?
  • Are you actively checking and assessing the long-term viability of your storage solutions, considering factors such as technological obsolescence, data format compatibility and regulatory compliance?
  • Do you have a robust data back-up and disaster recovery plan to mitigate the risk of data loss or corruption over the long term?
  • Have you organised your data so it is easy to find and use in the future?

Marcus Roberts is head of Atvero.

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