Quick Start Guide


Introduction

Construction Clouds is a web-based piece of software to help building and maintenance companies manage their clients, staff, jobs, vehicles, time and more. It is specifically designed and built to meet the needs of the industry and as such is a powerful asset to all who use it. The system comprises a simplistic user interface which is very much similar to many websites in use today. It is reasonably easy to 'get the hang of' if you are used to the business rules and processes that contribute to a successful and well managed construction organisation.

This guide is indented as a quick reference to the basic features and capabilities of the system and is designed to get you started. We have found that once users have a basic understanding and a feel for the system and its interface they can continue to learn the more advanced  features and functionality on a self teaching basis.

If further guidance is needed after reading this guide then you will find help and support through our community forum which can be found at forum.constructionclouds.co.uk

or

Take a look at our video tutorials

or

You can contact support to purchase a support ticket or ask about bespoke one on one or group training.

This guide will walk you through logging in to the system and navigating the system. It will give an explanation of the main business objects stored within the software, how to access them and how to edit them ( 'business object' is a term used to describe  various pieces of business data such as a property, agent, supplier, staff member, sales invoice, quote, job record and so on).

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How to Login on a Desktop or Laptop

construction clouds login screen for desktop pc or mac
Fig. 0

Construction Clouds is only accessible through a web browser such as Google Chrome, Microsoft Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox or Safari.  We would strongly recommend the use of Google Chrome as a secure, fast and free to use browser.

As the software is interfaced via a browser, Construction Clouds can be accessed from any internet enabled computer from anywhere in the world, that is to say that you do not need to be sited in the office to be able to connect to the system.

To be able to access Construction Clouds you will need a URL (web address),  a username and a password.  These are created by an administrator already logged into the system. If you are the first to be using the system then your credentials would have been provided to you by Construction Clouds support.

We will create a customised login page for you when you register with us and we will provide you with a link to that page which will look similar to the following:

login.constructionclouds.com/yourcompanyname.html

If you use the link above to access Construction Clouds, you will only need to enter your username and password. 

The link above should be used to login when you are using a desktop PC, Mac or laptop. If you wish to log in to the system on a mobile phone such as an iPhone or Blackberry or if you wish to login using a tablet such as an iPad then you must use a special URL as described in the next sections.

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Mobile Phone Login

Construction Clouds has a specially adapted "Mobile Version" to use on any iPhone, Android, Blackberry or Windows Phone. This version is especially useful for your engineers and field based operatives who wish to receive jobs, alerts and such whilst on site. You will need to use the phones inbuilt browser to visit a link similar to the following:

secureserver.constructionclouds.com/gabbisoft/logonOp.aw?mobile=true&domain=YourCompany&mobile_platform=Phone

(replace YourCompany with the actual Business Space Name of your company. Your business space name can be found in the bottom left corner of the screen when you are logged in to the desktop version of your Construction Cloud)

Once you have visited this link you will need to provide your username and password created by the System Administrator.  When you enter this address into the phones browser it would be a good idea to either bookmark the page or add an icon to the phones home screen. This will provide quick access to the mobile version although you will need to enter your username and password each time you open the application.

It is also possible to fully parameterise the link so that login can take place directly from the homescreen without the need to enter a username or password each time you open Construction Clouds.  If you add the following two pieces of information to the end of the above URL you will be logged into the system without being prompted for any credentials:

&userName=Username&password=Password

(replace Username with the actual username and Password with the actual password)

So the full automated login URL would look like;

secureserver.constructionclouds.com/gabbisoft/logonOp.aw?mobile=true&domain=YourCompany&mobile_platform=Phone&userName=Username&password=Password

You must be very careful not to change any of the text or characters inside these links other than YourCompany, Username and Password. If you change anything else then you will get errors. All parts of the link are case sensitive so you must ensure that your credentials are entered exactly as they are stored on the system!

If you decide to use the fully parameterised URL for the mobile devices within your organisation then we would strongly recommend that the phones have a passcode enabled to prevent unwanted access to your cloud.

Using the mobile version on tablets:

If you would like to use the mobile version on a tablet then you will need to add an additional parameter to the end of the mobile login URL. This will override the default behaviour of being directed to the tablet version of Constructions Clouds. The parameter is as follows:

&mobile_platform=Phone

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iPad or Other Tablet Login

Construction Clouds has a specially adapted "Tablet Version" to use on any iPad, Android Tablet, Windows Tablet and Others. This version is especially useful for your engineers and field based operatives who wish to receive jobs, alerts and such whilst on site and even for staff in the office who wish to complete most of the same tasks as on the desktop version. You will need to use the tablets inbuilt browser to visit a link similar to the following:

secureserver.constructionclouds.com/gabbisoft/logonOp.aw?&domain=YourCompany&mobile_platform=Tablet

(replace YourCompany with the actual Business Space Name of your company. Your business space name can be found in the bottom left corner of the screen when you are logged in to the desktop version of your Construction Cloud)

Once you have visited this link you will need to provide your username and password created by the System Administrator.  When you enter this address into the tablets browser it would be a good idea to either bookmark the page or add an icon to the tablets home screen. This will provide quick access to the tablet version although you will need to enter your username and password each time you open the application.

It is also possible to fully parameterise the link so that login can take place directly from the homescreen without the need to enter a username or password each time you open Construction Clouds.  If you add the following two pieces of information to the end of the above URL you will be logged into the system without being prompted for any credentials:

&userName=Username&password=Password

(replace Username with the actual username and Password with the actual password)

So the full automated login URL would look like;

secureserver.constructionclouds.com/gabbisoft/logonOp.aw?domain=YourCompany&mobile_platform=Tablet&userName=Username&password=Password

You must be very careful not to change any of the text or characters inside these links other than YourCompany, Username and Password. If you change anything else then you will get errors. All parts of the link are case sensitive so you must ensure that your credentials are entered exactly as they are stored on the system!

If you decide to use the fully parameterised URL for the tablets within your organisation then we would strongly recommend that they have a passcode enabled to prevent unwanted access to your cloud.

Using the "Mobile Version" on tablets:

If you would like to use the "mobile version" on a tablet then you will need to change one of the parameters to override the default behavior of being directed to the tablet version of Constructions Clouds. The parameter change is as follows:

You must change this: &mobile_platform=Tablet   To this: &mobile_platform=Phone

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Navigation and Screen Layout

Once you log into the desktop system you will be presented with a screen similar to that shown in fig 1. The exact screen will vary dependant on your particular access level and also the current theme that is use. We refer to these differing screens as a visual perspective.

construction cloud main screen that is shown for a project manager when first logging in
Fig. 1

 

There are a few main areas of the screen to take note on:

1) Title bar, clock and cloking options

Title bar that contains company name, time, date and clocking options
Fig. 2

This area will contain your company name along with the current date and time. There is also a dropdown menu with options to clock in and clock out.

construction clouds main navigation menu
Fig. 3

2) Left Navigation Menu

 

This area of the screen shows links to all areas of the system and is the most common way to navigate the software.

As you can see, there are links or buttons to each of the main business objects handled by the system. When clicked each button will expand and provide further links and options to related objects and tasks.

Pressing the refresh button at the top of the menu will cause the system to reload and reset the entire visual perspective to a cleanly loaded state.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 


3) Main Work Area and Navigation Tabs - Fig. 4 (Below)

This is the main work area of the visual perspective. The most important thing to note here are the tabs that run horizontally across the screen at the top of the work area. When you log in, the system will load a few un-closable tabs that will include 'Home', 'Company Planner', 'Properties', 'Jobs' etc. You will also notice that as you navigate the system and open various business objects the system will display new tabs to hold those objects. When you are finished working with a particular object you can close the tab by clicking on the x in the corner or leave the tab open for quick navigation back. When you log out or press the reload button, the system will close all open tabs and return you to the home dashboard.

construction software main work area and navigation tabs
Fig 4.

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Company Preferences

If you are the administrator and accessing the system for the first time one of the first things to do is access the company preferences and enter your company details as required, the company preferences can be found using the navigation menu on the left hand side. Navigate through the various tabs at the left of the company preferences form. It is important to enter as much of the company information into these screens as possible as this will make creation of staff members and other objects quicker and easier as well as ensuring that all company information appears on documentation correctly.  

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Staff Member

Depending on your access level, you can create new staff members by clicking on ‘new staff member’ which is accessible from the navigation menu on the left hand side of the screen. When you create a new staff member there are various pieces of information that are required and these will be marked with a ‘*’.  A couple of important pieces of information to note are the username, password and access level.  These details are what will enable the staff member to log into the system, there are various access levels which are suited to the various types of system user.  Select the access level that best suits the staff member you are creating.

Once the staff member has been created you should set up usual working hours, hourly rate, paid leave entitlement and other employment details. These settings can be found by navigating to the staff member record (Fig. 5) and looking on the timesheets tab. Please note that you may need a director or accounts manager to set up these attributes if you don't have a high enough ranking access level yourself.

You should also define email settings on the email settings tab. If the staff member requires email or text appointment reminders then you could also define some default reminders*

construction cloud staff member record form
Fig. 5

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Agents and Agent Groups

Agents represent the councils, estate agents, property management companies or other companies that look after or own the properties that you work on. When you create an agent you can then assign properties to them and they provide a way of grouping properties together. To create an agent just follow the links on the left navigation menu. You can assign properties to agents when you create properties as detailed below.

Agent groups provide a second, higher level, way to group your properties. Agent groups are as the name suggests - a group of agents who each in turn have a collection of properties that they look after. For example an agent group may be the head office of some estate agent group which has various branches spread over a few towns. The head office would become the Agent Group and its branches would become the Agents linked to that group or head office. Each of the Agents will have its own set of properties that it manages.

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Properties

Properties are the places that you carry out jobs. A property could be a house, school, public building or commercial property - if it has an address and you complete work there then it is a property.

You can create new properties by clicking on ‘new property’ which is accessible from the navigation menu on the left hand side of the screen. When you create a new property there are various pieces of information that are required and these will be marked with a ‘*’.  You must create a property before you can create any jobs.

Appliance

You can create and store details about the gas appliances installed at a property such as a gas boiler, cooker or fire. Once appliances have been created it is then possible to create and maintain inspection histories (gas safety certificates) for each.

Call Logs / Communication

Call logs are created within a property. They are used to build a record of phone communication between your company and the occupier of that property. You can also log incoming and outgoing email, outgoing text messages, incoming and outgoing letters.

Enquiry Source

An enquiry source is used to track where and how leads are generated and this information is stored against a property.

For example, if your company runs an ad in a newspaper you could ask all new clients how they heard of your company. If they said as a result of a newspaper ad you could then record that and the  information gathered over time would give an indication to the effectiveness of a particular type of marketing or even a specific ad.

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Jobs / Projects

Jobs are specific to properties, you must have a property in place before you can create a job.  If you want to create a job, you need to navigate to the relevant property using the navigation menu on the left hand side of the screen.  Once you have navigated to the relevant property you can click on the jobs tab to see a list of jobs, click the ‘New Job’ button above the list.

You will be prompted to enter a job type, department and project manager. In essence there are two types of job - ‘Service Calls’ and ‘Building Projects’. The main difference between service calls and building projects is in the way that the workforce is allocated and the way that they are invoiced. Service Calls are allocated to only one or two members of the workforce and are completed in one visit. Building Projects are allocated to many members of the workforce over multiple days. Service calls will only have a single invoice where as a building project might have many invoices or stage payments

The project manager is the person who will be responsible for overseeing the work ensuring the smooth flow of the job life cycle.

The department provides a way of tracking jobs and their associated attributes within a certain division of your organisation. See departments below for more information.

Another difference between service calls and building projects is that you may add extra costs (variations) to a building project and raise an extras sheet which will adjust the invoice and contract amount accordingly.

Once a job has been created it is then possible to fill in all details about that job and allocate the job to a member of the workforce. Once allocated the job will appear in the company planner, staff planners and also on the mobile device to whom it has been allocated.

Some jobs will need to be quoted before you are given the go ahead or before they are allocated to the workforce. If this is the case then select the checkbox marked ‘Quote Required’. If a job is to be quoted it is often necessary to visit the property to look at the work in order to price and provide a quotation. In this case select the checkbox marked ‘Survey Required’ and then you will be able to allocate a survey appointment to a member of the workforce.

construction-clouds job or project details form
Fig. 6

Extras

Extras, or variations as they are sometimes known, are created within a building project. They are used to make a record of any deviation in the agreed specification of a particular job. When extras are created they will automatically increase or decrease the total project cost and stage payments etc.

You can print an extras sheet to present to your clients from the document options menu at the top of the job form.

Job Documents

You can upload documents (of any file format) against a job. This might include drawings, specifications, videos or other types.

Job Notes

Create job notes and set staff as responsible for completing actions before a due date. If responsible staff are set then the system will automatically create alerts to remind those staff members of their responsibilities. When a job note has been actioned it can be marked as resolved. Job note reminders can also be automatically emailed out by the system if they have not been completed by the specified date.

Job Pictures

Upload pictures against a job to create a visual record of work before, during and after. Pictures can be viewed in a gallery style from within the job form.

Job Costing

Job costings are used to price the various parts of a job. You create job costings from within a job or building project. When you create a job costing you would enter all of the pricing information within that costing as well as notes to appear on the quote.

Generally you would create one job costing for each 'option' or area of work that is to be quoted. For example, you may be quoting for a single storey side extension (1st Costing) and replacement windows and doors (2nd Costing). The client may wish to proceed with one or both areas of work so a separate price for each is required.

-or-

You might be quoting for a replacement front door. The first option might be a timber door whereas the second option might be a uPVC front door. The client would choose one or the other. Again, a separate price and details would be required for each.

Sales Invoice

Sales invoices are created against jobs and issued to clients. Some jobs will have a single invoice which is created on completion of all work. Other jobs such as building projects will have many invoices or stage payments.

The system will do most of the work for you when creating sales invoices and you will normally only need to enter a description and cost.

Invoices, similar to other client facing documents, may need to be sent to either the tenant, landlord / agent or group agent. This is controlled by selecting the [correspondence to] dropdown on the main tab of the job form.

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Appointments

Appointments are automatically created for job and survey allocation from within the job screen. It is also possible to create other types of appointments for the workforce such as for meetings, phone calls and others. To create other appointments just go to the company planner tab from the home screen and either click on new appointment or drag a new appointment against the relevant member of the workforce.

appointment form as displayed when editing appointments in construction clouds
Fig. 7

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Suppliers

You can create and manage your suppliers by following the links on the left navigation menu. You can store details for various types of suppliers including normal suppliers such as builder merchants or subcontractors that you use. When you create subcontractors if they are marked as ‘In Use’ they will appear alongside staff members on the workforce lists. This makes it possible to allocate jobs, surveys and other appointments to your subcontractors.

Supplier Invoices

Supplier invoices can be entered onto the system and are used to allocate costs to jobs in order to calculate profit or loss.

Supplier Quotes

It is possible to create and store details of supplier quotes. Supplier quotes and thier financial data can then be included into job costings.

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Alerts

Create alerts for your colleagues which act as reminders to complete tasks and activities. The system will also create automatic alerts for staff members such as when insurance or MOT’s are due on the vehicle’s they drive and other automatic alerts for such as when reminders need to be sent to occupiers for gas safety certification etc.

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Instant Messaging

It is possible to send instant messages to members of staff that are registered within the system. Just go to communication > instant messages to create and send your message. The recipient will see the message appear in the bottom corner of their screen.

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Assets

It is possible to create records for the purpose of tracking assets. One specific type of asset you may want to track are the vehicles owned by your organisation. You can create a record for each vehicle and nominate a driver as well as someone who is responsible for ensuring the vehicle is taxed, MOT’d and insured on time. When a responsible staff member has been set the system will automatically create alerts to remind them of due dates etc.

You can create and manage assets from the navigation menu at the left of the screen. You can also create asset histories for each of your assets such as for recording when, where and what work was carried out to one of your vehicle’s the last time it went to the garage.

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Quote Templates

Quote templates are a way of customising how a quote's 'generic' wording is presented. The 'generic' wording includes the opening text, closing text and generic notes.

For example, you might want to create a template called "Extension Template" that starts with the opening line "Thank you for the opportunity to look at your proposed extension. We have pleasure in presenting our quotation based on the specification provided with your drawings......"

- and -

You could create another template called "Redecoration Template" that starts with the opening line "Further to our representatives visit to look at redecoration works we now enclose our detailed quotation below:" 

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