Top 5 IT Struggles for Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Firms
Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) firms face unique IT challenges. As opposed to many industries, the AEC field relies heavily on a variety of field personnel that rarely have stable internet access or persistent device usage. These circumstances can lead to lacking support options, security gaps, and even job delays.
The goal of IT for any organization is to provide the resources necessary for the business unit to perform it’s core functions. IT is the conduit through which all initiatives kickoff, all bids are completed, and all projects finish. Just as importantly, IT security provides the critical protections needed to reduce the risk associated with the rapidly rising threat environment. IT and cybersecurity are both critical aspects of an organization that generally receive a significant portion of the overall budget.
Unfortunately, things do not always run smoothly within the IT ecosystem. System outages, security breaches, and even simple user issues can drastically affect business operations. Outlined below are five of some of the biggest struggles faced by construction firms of all sizes.
- “Failing” Cyber Liability Insurance Compliance - Multi-Factor Authentication and Single-Sign-On (MFA + SSO)
- Cyber Liability insurance requirements have drastically increased in the past few years. In order to properly comply with these new standards, all corporate system access must generally be covered by multi-factor authentication.
- This implies that all server access, core corporate apps, email, and administrative access must have 2 separate authentication methods to authorize access. Newer requirements also sometimes require full MFA on all devices in addition to corporate systems.
- MFA and Single-Sign-On (SSO) are now the standards of account security. All users flow through a single login experience validated by multiple authentication factors and have their identity shared amongst apps so that they only need to login once. Deploying these systems can be complex and costly, requiring specialized teams to properly manage.
- Improper Monitoring and Management of Devices
- Tracking systems, compliance statuses, threats, and patches can be a complex and time-consuming undertaking.
- Without proper management, IT and device costs can drastically increase as an organization grows. For example, tracking the warranties of a device can help determine whether repairs will be covered or are a significant investment.
- Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM) tools serve to provide all these functions. An organization can patch, monitor, control, and track devices with an RMM. This the capability to remotely monitor assets helps reduce long-term costs and simplify IT administrative overhead.
- Unstable and Unsecured Remote Site Work
- Securing remote workers is difficult. Properly security remote workers in a highly isolated environment (deep woods, job-site, etc) can prove to be an even greater undertaking. Without extensive preparation, these workers can face service outages and security risks.
- Secure firewalls, routers, and access points alongside a dedicated internet connection at remote locations can significantly speed-up projects and minimize security and service disruptions.
- Secure VPN access into the corporate system can also provide a protected channel through which remote workers can access the corporate environment and access core project data.
- Delayed Helpdesk Support and Cybersecurity Staffing Issues
- Currently the biggest struggle in IT, remote workers and office workers alike face a severe shortage of proper helpdesk support due to labor and skill shortages across the industry.
- In this same vein, cybersecurity analysts and professionals are in drastically short supply and the margins by which many AEC organizations operate prevents them from obtaining a professionally staffed cybersecurity team.
- The solution: Outsourced IT and Cybersecurity. Managed Service Provides and Managed Security Service Providers are rapidly growing due to the support they can provide organizations for a fraction of the cost of a dedicated staff.
- Lack of Consultation, Roadmap, and Guidance
- IT and Cybersecurity capabilities are likely to degrade without regular planning, updates, and challenges to existing practices. These fields are constantly evolving and simply reacting and stagnating can lead to systemic issues that grow in severity over time.
- IT leadership is also in short supply, leading to a disproportionate number of technical resources being forced into business or executive positions for which they are not qualified.
- Virtual CIO and CISO consultation are the most effective counters to this struggle. By hiring a part-time executive staff, your organization can properly plan for the future. Roadmapping changes and tackling existing issues can all be tackled in a budget-appropriate manner while keeping stakeholders satisfied.