6 Best Practices for Creating an RFP

Writing an RFP or request for proposal can be a daunting task. At its core, it seems simple enough- you have a problem and you want vendors to offer their solution. Giving prospective vendors a good look into your company, how you work, and what you need from them isn’t easy, however. Bringing clarity must be balanced with seeking knowledge. This fine line has to be walked after scouring the internet for a list of vendors who you think will suit your needs.

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This process can take a long time for a first timer and that might be time your company does not have to spare. A well-executed RFP can save time and money in the long run. If you think through what you would want to know as a vendor while creating your RFP, you will have much more success. These best practices are easy to follow and will get you well on your way to an excellent RFP.

  1. Focus on Format

Be clear and concise. Vendors expect RFPs to be easy to evaluate and clear to read. The organization can also make a difference. Add cover pages and tables of contents for ease. Being organized with your format will also help you include all of the information you need to, and not leave anything out.

  1. What’s the Problem?

Go into detail. This problem you are trying to fix could be quite complicated. The solution or service proposed could be different if the problem is not given detail. The vendors need to know where gaps exist so they can offer solutions. Make sure you stick to the formatting best practice and balance being as concise as possible.

  1. How can vendors Return Information?

Include when and where to return the proposal along with the desired format. A standard format will make it easier on you as you look through multiple proposals. You can include this information in your introduction. Make sure to also include the date in which you want the proposals returned and how you will evaluate them.

  1. Give Vendors a Point of Contact

Give vendors an internal contact to come to with questions. No matter how clear you are, they will likely have questions. Don’t view this as a bad thing, however, because you may find a vendor who is exceptionally easy to communicate with or one who is impossible to communicate with. When it comes down to making a decision, this could be something to keep in mind. Answering their questions will also ensure the proposal you receive doesn’t miss the mark.

  1. Give Background Information

Adding context gives vendors so much more clarity. You will have far fewer back and forth communications while they compile the proposal when background information is provided. This also allows vendors to be specific on how their service or solution meets the needs of your project and company to a tee.

  1. Offer a Project Scope and Desired Timeline

You may find this steps will weed out some companies who cannot meet a deadline or do not have a large enough staff to take on the scope of your project. This will help save time for you and the vendors. Serious vendors are the only ones you need to have return on your RFP. It is important to be clear and realistic about your scope and timeline. Don’t downplay the size of a huge project and don’t try to get a huge project done in no time flat.  

Construction Tools for the Industry to Embrace

The construction industry has been slower than other industries to embrace technology in all areas of business. The construction industry, however, has at its fingertips, an incredible number of tools that can make daily tasks easier. Some of these tools are automation tools and others can help you track and stay connected. We have assembled 10 tools for the construction industry to embrace now.

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  1. Project Management Software

The use of project management software is an integral part to utilizing technology in the construction industry. PM software can track job productivity, profitability, relationships with other organizations. Take advantage of a software solution and see efficiency and job-visibility drastically increase.

  1. Mobility/Remote Connectivity

Most time lost is due to the inability to properly connect employees from the job site to the company head-quarters. Take steps to maintain connectivity to the field. Mobile time capture, file sharing, and project management will greatly impact accuracy and efficiency.

  1. Document Management

Having a document management solution in place does wonders for keeping projects organized. Use this to manage submittals, RFIs, punch lists and more. Some document management solutions can be purposed for a print management program as well.

  1. Video Conferencing

Meet with job sites remotely, hold team collaboration sessions, and engage with sub-contractors and owners with ease through video conferencing.

  1. Mobile Device Management 

Effectively and securely manage mobile devices from a central location; Remote wipe, quick updating, immediate deployment of apps, and security management all through a single software application.

  1. Acceptable Use Policies

These policies govern and protect your organization from your biggest liability: your employees.  This should address internet use, email, mobile, BYOD, etc. Acceptable use policies ensure your organization uses technology safely and responsibly.

  1. Device Encryption

Disk encryption is a technology which protects your team’s laptops and mobile devices by converting it into unreadable code that cannot be deciphered easily by unauthorized people. This technology is very important in an environment with many off-site team members.

  1. Reporting and Analytics

Your project management and accounting software are capable of providing incredible analytics and insights into the profitability, effort and efficiency of your business.  Are you taking advantage of the custom reporting functionality?

  1. Application Integration

Time tracking, billing, accounting, project management, take-off, document management, payroll: ensuring integration between your software is paramount to eliminating duplicate entry, managing your productivity, and minimizing wasted manual entry between disparate software platforms. 10. End User Support Having a reliable support system in place for the end-users of a construction company can be a great differentiator in a competitive industry. Keeping hardware and software systems current and working seamlessly is important in an environment where downtime and inefficiency can be the difference in being on time, winning on bid day, and protecting your data. These tools will help modernize any construction firm. Creating efficiency in your firm will take initial upfront work, but it will pay off in dividends.

Do you need a Chief Security Officer?

Cyber security is an increasingly important topic. Whether you are in the construction, financial, legal, healthcare, education or many other industries, your data needs to be both accessible and secure. Internal and external security threats can affect your operations, earnings, and level of trust your clients have with your organization. With the growth of cloud-computing and mobile technology the demand to keep sensitive information and data secure will only increase.

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Few companies can afford the disruption to operations caused by a security breach. Enter a Chief Security Office. This C-level professional will lead the charge for security measure of data within your company. CSOs usually possess a master’s degree. They will make the procedures, guidelines and direction for information security policies within your company. These guidelines should be set in place to protect information and data from internal and external threats. The CSO will be responsible for the planning, coordinating, developing, and implementing of all cyber security measures.  They can also educate other employees on data security measures and best practices. Not every company is able to add another C-level position to their organization just yet. With or without a Chief Security Officer, all organizations should have a data recovery plan so they do not lose their data and information. If a CSO is not currently in your scope, consider doing outsourced IT. This alternative will fit you data security needs and other tech needs your company may have. They will be able to assist you in doing a technology-based risk assessment annually, which is a best practice when it comes to data security. This can give a baseline of the measure that need to be taken to keep your sensitive information and data safe. An outsourced tech provider can assist you in creating a data classification policy and verse you in cyber liability insurance. Deciding if you need a CSO can take a good deal of internal auditing and planning. This tech-focused executive can be replaced by outsourced IT. Take your time in researching the benefits and costs of each option.

Modern Day Matchmaking in the iPaaS economy

Finding your perfect match means more than just a feeling when we talk about the iPaaS economy. Ultimately your perfect match needs to help you accomplish one task- outsell your competitors. Customers demand all of the workflows be accessible from one interface, they want to use one dashboard, and they want to access it from anywhere. Here’s how to outsell your competition: Focus on the Technology itself Ask your software provider what you are really getting. The technology needs to be:

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Reliable- First are foremost your technology needs to do what it is supposed to do all of the time. No one has the patience to deal with spotty technology or an application that is unreliable when you need to use it. The technology we have available at our fingertips is expected to perform.

Usable- Can the end user open this up and figure it out? Sure there could be a little bit of a learning curve, but too much of one and interest in your tool will be lost- no matter how much easier it could make their lives. The technology should be intuitive.

Portable – Having a mobile-friendly tool is necessary to compete today. Many professionals work from multiple devices including laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Make sure it’s all going to be mobile friendly and powerful even in the palm of their hands.

Accessible- Today, everything must be easily accessible. This goes hand in hand with the tool being usable and portable, but it takes it one step further. Can the end user open the tool and go? What steps stand in the way of that happening? These steps should be eliminated to create ease of accessibility.

Performing – The tool has to meet all of the needs of the client. They need to be able to be able to have that all-in-one experience. Streamlined tools perform well for professionals today. Having technology that meets all of these requirements- reliable, usable, portable, accessible and performing is step one in outselling your competition because it leads to happy customers. Make sure your customers know your technology solution in and out to help manage their expectations. If they have new requirements for your tool, be responsive. This will help them understand that you are doing everything in your power to get them what they need and will keep your from gaining any unhappy customers who could damage your reputation. Find a software partner who can deliver to you a superior product and your clients will be happy.

More bang for your buck: Cloud vs On-Site backup

The debate between cloud backup and on-site hard drive backup has been ongoing. There are pros and cons to consider for each including speed and reliability. Each of the solutions has its own vulnerabilities and risks associated with putting your company data on them. However, if we set all of those aside and only look at the bang for your buck, which one would win? For the hard drive option, when it comes right down to it, the larger storage space you want on your hard drive, the more you will pay.

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According to PC World, it breaks down to about 10-50 cents per gigabyte. This cost covers the vast majority of hard drives, but there are always going to be a few that lay outside of this average on each side. Although this is a range, it is a pretty small range in comparison. A hard drive should be guaranteed to last at least three years. The overall cost of a cloud service is determined in a completed different way. There are many options for cloud backup that have different features and benefits. Paying top dollar in the cloud space will often get you the benefit of quality file encryption, and customer service, and multiple restore points meaning if your data is lost you can revert to your data settings a few hours ago, a few days ago or a few months ago. At the lower end of the spectrum, you will get you basic needs covered- your data will be backed up on the cloud. With this wide of a range in perks, the price per gigabyte varies widely too; the price per gigabyte for cloud backup can range from a fraction of a penny to $10 or more; meaning for the same size of storage, you could pay a very different price depending on what perks you want and need. As you can see, this isn’t comparing apples to apples. There is no true price comparison that lays it out precisely per gigabyte and tells us the most cost effective solution. If we take a look at the range in sizes of storage and look at the average, we can start to make some comparisons. Smaller storage, under 20GB, doesn’t store much, but sometimes that’s all you need. If you are just wanted to back up a few pictures and documents, this is all the more storage that is needed. Cloud-based solutions in this category include Dropbox, which is widely used, and for the basic package, free. When looking at storage that is still pretty small, but larger than 20GB, it is still cheap, but up charges may apply. When your Dropbox is full and they ask you if you want to upgrade, it will cost you. These solutions can be anywhere from $1-$4 per gigabyte. Cheaper solutions such as OpenBox Home come in at a lower price tag, however. This small category still falls under the 10-50 cents per gigabyte for hard drive backup solutions. Moving up in storage size to 100-500GB, a standard size meeting many needs, hard drives are more competitive per gigabyte. They are practically dead even at 41 and 42 cents respectively on average. If we look at large storage, 500GB- 1T, it is also a very close race. Per gigabyte, the external hard drive is about 10 cents cheaper on average. This, of course, depends on the features you select for you cloud-based backup. When your storage needs exceed 1T cloud-based solutions are cheaper at a mere 4 cents per gigabyte. When dealing with this much data, an external hard drive lasting only three years is also something to consider. Cloud-based solutions take the cake for the bang for your buck category even though it isn’t an apples to apples comparison. You get comparable storage size or more for the same money when you choose the cloud across the board. Online backup services are also becoming cheaper each year as more and more providers enter the market. As cloud-based solutions continue to gain popularity for good reason. These solutions are reliable and open up many opportunities when it comes to integrations and business intelligence.

Project Collaboration: The Basics

When working for most organizations, projects can take up a big portion of what you do. Collaboration is essential whether it’s with an established team or across departments. Your team needs to have a certain level of competency and ability. There are tons of tools out there to help you make your team organized and more efficient. These tools range in price and features so you can choose the tool that will be the best fit, but don't forget some of these basics for successful projects:

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1. Forgetting what it’s all about Yes, implementing tools can really help your teams collaborate better. But don’t forget that project collaboration is really all about the people. Make a team that has the right people and this will get you further than any tool.

2. Only using email Meeting in person is great when everyone can get together and they are all in the same office. For many collaborations, this simply isn’t possible all the time. Being able to meet online is essential and email can’t take care of all of the needs a group will have for collaboration. Not to mention, lots of us get hundreds of emails a day and project collaborations can get lost in the shuffle.

3. Getting a tool, but not seeing it through You can research and find the best tool out there, but if your team doesn’t know how to put it into play, it’s all for nothing. A lot of project collaboration tools have a learning curve. Allow your teams to learn these tools before they are expected to jump right in.

4. Non-adoption If your team learns the new tool or method but does not adopt it into their daily use, this can be a problem. You made this business decision and now you need to make sure your team is behind you and understands the importance of this tool and why they need to use it. Non-adoption can also apply to other areas of collaboration, not just a new tool or method.

5. Focusing on the negative When you are working on a project you might be solving one problem and while trying to do so, you may come across other problems. Don’t focus on the negative. This kills productivity in your collaboration. It can be easy to let your team get dragged down by the negative but instead, face these challenges with solutions.

6. Failing to communicate This can be an issue for many different areas of an organization and it hold true for project collaboration. Open lines of communication have to be established to have a free flow of thoughts and ideas. Communicating deadlines just isn’t enough, more conversation needs to go into collaboration. This starts with a clear mission. If this isn’t clear, the team will be set up for failure.

7. Overlapping tasks Sometimes, when the communication isn’t strong, multiple people could be working on the same task and have no idea someone else is too. This is just one example of how poor communication can lead to wasted time and efforts.

8. Resistance to change Many people are afraid of change. This could stem from a fear of surprises and the unknown, a certain level of mistrust, or maybe just bad timing. The creative ideas a project collaboration could come up with might require a certain level of change, however. Don’t be resistant to the good ideas that come from collaboration.

9. No established skills and best practices Your team should know what you expect out of them for project collaboration. Setting standards and best practices is a good first step. You need to make sure employees learn and understand the best practices you have in play when they are onboarding. You also want to make sure they know what basic skills will be required for the projects they join.

10. Failing to plan When it comes to collaboration, planning can be your best friend. Make sure giving each participant a voice is part of this plan. What methods will you use to brainstorm? How can you get to the end goal? These are a few of the details that need to be planned well in advance.

Technology’s Impact on Safety in Construction

Working on a construction site can be hazardous. According to OSHA, construction fatalities account for 19.5% of the total fatalities across all industries in the U.S. It has been a long-standing factor of the construction industry for contractors to have to balance trying to meet their safety goals with the knowledge that devastating consequences are possible. Safety policies and procedures exist to keep workers as safe as possible, such as OSHA standards for a workplace to be free of known dangers. Even with these policies and standards, hazards still exist, but that doesn’t mean a worksite has to be unsafe. Technology has stepped up to create safety measures that didn't exist before.

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Futuristic Advances in technology are making construction sites safer and more efficient. There are many different types of technology that contribute to this enhanced site safety, with more emerging every day. Drones and robots are among the most futuristic technologies. The robots and drones can do dangerous tasks and collect data that increase safety. Drones and robots can be sent to places that workers can’t or shouldn’t venture to. Detailed observations go a long way in safety measures for construction sites and drones give this ability. They are also able to collect data and send it back to the main office. Communication Timely communication is a luxury we have all experienced from technological advances. We know the benefits well, and when applied to construction, it can make a difference in safety. It’s now more than just walkie talkies and cell phones, other communication systems allow for increased communication and record keeping throughout the jobsite and from the jobsite to the office.  Wearable technologies have the capability to send an alert if the person wearing it has fallen or is otherwise injured. Data Sharing collected data may not seem like a safety precaution but it is becoming increasingly important. It isn’t something that is done right there on the jobsite like a robot doing underwater welding, but it enhances safety none the less. Just like all other industries, big data is becoming part of construction. Real-time reports with current data can be automated for stakeholders, management, and employees to stay updated. These reports give feedback on hazards and unsafe jobsites. Having up-to-date data means fixes can be made quickly to keep all workers safe. Having applications that are integrated will only enhance the ability to have accurate and intelligent data for safety in construction. Big data gives executives the ability to gain insights on safety and ways to improve their efficiency. Technology is doing its part to keep construction workers safe and the future will only bring more innovative ways to keep them safe.

The Difference Between iPaaS, aPaaS and SaaS

Integrations are taking more than just the software industry by storm. Companies in every industry are demanding data be able to flow across different software and different applications. Integrations can heavily increase efficiency and gain a competitive edge through streamlined operations. Companies need to stay away from deploying integrations that will stand alone in a silo in order to reap as many benefits as possible. This means integrations need to be intelligent. The main integration types today are iPaaS, aPaaS, and SaaS.

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Before we dive into how iPaaS, aPaaS, and SaaS are all different, let's break down what each means. iPaaS stands for integration platform as a service. aPaaS stands for application platform and a service. SaaS stands for software as a service. Each of these serves a different purpose.

aPaaS allows for rapid application development and delivery. This form has high productivity and high control. The coding process for platforms as a service can slow down delivery, but aPaaS brings automation for the application lifecycle. aPaaS offers a faster way to build apps.

SaaS has a main difference of being hosted by a vendor where iPaaS is cloud-based. Applications that are on-premise hosted can be integrated and allow for free flow of data. The application or service is made available to customers over a network, usually the internet.

iPaaS is a cloud-based integration solution, unlike SaaS which is hosted by a vendor on-premise. It iPaaS allows applications that reside on the cloud or on-premise to integrate and have data flow freely between them. It does not need any download, it is simply deployed. This is the most balanced offering because it can bring differently hosted software solutions or applications together.

iPaaS+™ is a cloud-based integration solution, but it also offers business intelligence and reporting. iPaaS+™ has an ecosystem available that allows applications built to integrate with all other application in the ecosystem. Partners are able to leverage the power of multiple business essential applications through this ecosystem.

Choose the integration type that will best serve your company in the long run. Find the right vendor can be difficult, but read this for help.

To experience the iPaaS+™ difference and learn more, contact Ryvit.

The Importance of iPaaS

Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) is a platform for building and deploying integrations within the cloud and from the cloud to enterprise. These cloud integrations can add a greater depth of capability for an organization while simultaneously reducing cost. iPaaS use could eventually expand to buying, selling, and exchange of integration flow. Secure and reliable platforms for integrating any number of solutions in any industry are increasing in popularity. A recent Garter Report predicts that by 2016 35% of all large organizations worldwide will use iPaaS in some way.

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B2B Integrations iPaaS is becoming a major player in B2B integrations because it provides a quick way for simple solutions to connect. iPaaS gives the ability to connect partner applications and cloud services, which in turn creates efficiency and effectiveness across the business. iPaaS can easily integrate an organization's’ on-premise applications with external solutions. The diverse B2B community demands a flexible platform for integrations and iPaaS delivers that. iPaaS is a match for  B2B because if it’s ability to integrate on the cloud and the enterprise without added hassle. Hybrid Architecture Hybrid cloud architecture can be the best of both worlds. They can be more budget friendly, with storing and sharing some data and applications internally and they can also develop new applications. That is why many companies are moving to these architecture structures. To begin long-term strategies around integrations, these hybrid cloud architectures and their needs should be taken into account. iPaaS allows for flexibility with connecting solutions between cloud and enterprise. This means the increasing hybrid architecture won’t slow iPaaS down or vice versa. If your data is moving to the cloud, your integration platform should also be moving to the cloud. Business Intelligence Business intelligence and better decision-making can be another great benefit on an iPaaS platform when you are working with Ryvit. Because we run mirrored databases on integration objects and have the native capabilities to push and pull data from multiple applications, we can provide partners with insights across the enterprise. This opens up the opportunities for your business to provide meaningful metrics to executive teams, sales and marketing personnel, and even customers.

The iPaaS+™ Difference

iPaaS Businesses can no longer survive with software operating in a silo. They need their business systems to communicate across the enterprise and deliver meaningful insights to a variety of stakeholders. Doing this in a consistent and cost-effective way is the trick. The scope of developing, monitoring and supporting a single integration can be out of reach for most organizations. This is where iPaaS vendors come in. The services they provide are now more valuable than ever. Businesses are able to leverage iPaaS to enable subscribers to implement integration projects involving any combination of cloud and on-premise endpoints- data sources, applications, web services, APIs and processes. Some iPaaS benefits include:

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  • Eliminate costs and resource requirements of endpoint-to-endpoint integrations
  • Support for a variety of connectivity protocols and data delivery methods allow businesses to rapidly expand integrations offerings and increase market opportunity
  • Enhance security and stability with 24/7 advanced monitoring and support
  • Reduce time-to-value with reusable integration templates

 

iPaaS+™ With Ryvit, you can integrate your software or services into our ecosystem. This ecosystem of applications and integrations allows you to quickly integrate with all other applications within our ecosystem. You are able to do this without having to build, monitor or maintain individual endpoint-to-endpoint integrations. With iPaaS+™ by Ryvit, you get all of the benefits on an iPaaS provider plus a whole lot more. You are able to leverage our business intelligence component for better analytics because of our ability to natively push and pull data from multiple applications. The meaningful metrics gained from our BI can be shared with the executive team, sales and marketing teams and even customers. Your integrations will be easier, faster and smarter.

Easier. We build software integrations for your company. Behind every Ryvit integration is a team of integration specialists working directly with you to do the heavy lifting. We design and develop value-adding functionality to meet the needs of your customers. You can integrate your software application to ERP, CRM, eCommerce, Social apps and specialty industry-specific solutions without exhausting your development resources….the work is being done for you.

Faster. Once you have us build an application integration, you can re-use that development investment to connect the correlating database objects with additional applications available on the Ryvit Platform; Or you can choose for us to create a new application Ryvit for another vendor’s solution if it isn’t already available. You accelerate getting new solutions to market and quickly create value.

Smarter. Whether your requirements include complex data mappings, data transformation, document generation, real-time synchronization or cross-integration analytics we have you covered. Leverage our resources and capability to deliver a fully-managed, enterprise-level solution to your customers for a fraction of the cost to build and maintain a single point-to-point integration.

UAVs and Constructions

UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), more commonly referred to as drones, have taken off in recent years. When we hear about drones we usually hear about them in the context of the government using them in warfare or surveillance or individuals flying them as a hobby. However, much more practical applications exist. The construction industry could gain a huge value by using UAVs in a few different ways. Uses and Benefits UAVs in construction can be used for photogrammetry. Equipped with cameras and programmed for a flight pattern over a construction site allows UAVs to get a detailed lay of the land, where in the past a crew would be sent.

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Photos that include a look into the topography and structures will be ascertained.  The photos and videos can also be used to increase the level and quality of communication from the field and prove real-time updates. These images can then be used to increase the strategic plan to increase efficiency. Monitoring the progress of a site is another valuable use of UAVs. The use of GPS coordinates, sensors, and high definition cameras give detailed information about a job site. UAVs are now able to do inspections and documentation without an inspector being sent to the site. This is especially useful when the site is difficult to navigate or access. Both of these photogrammetry uses can also increase the safety of a site because any job site hazard or violation can be quickly discovered and addressed. Consider the Legal Side The laws around UAVs are changing frequently. The laws we see today likely will not stand by this time next year. Updates are constantly being made due to the nature of this technology. For instance, at one point drones could not fly below 500 feet and that has changed to 400 feet. Fines for not complying with these laws can be in the tens of thousands. To stay up to date on what the current laws are visit: https://www.faa.gov/uas You will have to get a Petition for Exemption under Section 333 from the federal government to start using drones over worksites, or for any other nongovernmental purpose. Commercial uses do not fall under the hobby category, either. There are different regulations. This sounds complicated, but it serves an important purpose. Drones can be used for less than honorable intentions and this step is to ensure the guidelines and rules are followed. For a detailed report on the steps, please visit: https://www.faa.gov/uas/resources/uas_regulations_policy/ After the 333 Petition has been granted, obtaining a COA for each site is the next step. You have to get Certificate of Authorization (COA) to alert the FAA air traffic controllers in the area of your status and allows them to them consider any airspace issues. To learn more please visit: https://oeaaa.faa.gov/oeaaa/external/uas/portal.jsp There is a lot to learn about the use of UAVs in construction. The applications and laws can both get confusing. Coordinating your efforts with a firm that specializes in aviation law could save you a lot of headaches and get your UAVs off the ground quicker. You can also join the AUVSI (Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International) to stay up to date on the latest information. For UAVs in construction, they sky’s the limit, so to speak. The use of UAVs will open up opportunities for improvement, efficiency, and creativity for the construction industry. Job sites are being modernized in many ways, and drones are on that list.