By KERRY SMITH, EDITOR, ST. LOUIS CONSTRUCTION NEWS AND REVIEW MAGAZINE
Three St. Louis-based companies with clients in the construction industry shared their expertise on how to prepare and equip a firm’s IT systems in the wake of a scenario like COVD-19.
St. Louis-based Mueller Prost CPAs + Business Advisors, Chameleon Integrated Services and Western Specialty Contractors hosted a webinar May 19 about the steps that companies need to take to minimize the impact of unanticipated events such as the current pandemic.
“We really didn’t have to prepare for COVID-19 because more than two years ago we put a plan in place to position ourselves for a global, remote workforce,” said Shawn Nichoalds, operations IT director for Western Specialty Contractors, an exterior building restoration contractor. “So, when COVID hit, we were ready.”
Gaining executive management buy-in, standardizing and streamlining organizational processes and migrating relevant services to the cloud rather than on-premise are all components of a strategy for building a global, remote workforce, Nichoalds said. Reducing cybersecurity risks, minimizing down time and reducing a firm’s dependence on a few virtual employees for company information that can leave a firm vulnerable.
Chameleon Integrated Services President Drew Acree said the IT consulting firm’s longstanding resume of defense industry clients – including the Dept. of Defense and Scott Air Force Base – shape the company’s holistic perspective on analyzing and designing IT systems for construction companies and others that stand the test of cyber-attacks. “Our defense experience has really ingrained in us the sense for following a strict set of policies and procedures to protect the organization’s information from falling into the hands of an unintended audience,” Acree said during the webinar. “Chameleon strongly recommends having a cybersecurity assessment done now to determine the steps necessary for protecting your company’s ability to preserve and contain a risk that no organization can control.”
Mueller Prost is performing such risk assessments for construction industry firms in St. Louis and beyond. Tim Grace, director of technology risk advisory services at Mueller Prost, said risk remediation strategies typically include a risk assessment followed by a phased approach where Mueller Prost analyzes the data obtained from the company’s key stakeholders and others to determine gaps, issues or opportunities so the client can then implement any necessary corrective actions.
“As we have all discovered through COVID-19, business continuity is critical,” Grace said. “Minimizing the impact to organizations during times like these is essential.”
Teri Samples, partner and director of real estate and construction services at Mueller Prost, said firms’ IT plans and infrastructures are a crucial facet leading to their overall health and prosperity, particularly when times are uncertain.
“An integrated IT plan and infrastructure is an important part of your overall business plan,” said Samples. “It is crucial to be able to serve your customers with as much ‘up time’ as possible. While everyone is especially concerned with expenditures during these times, keeping your company operating seamlessly will help to maintain your revenue and business growth.”