Illustration for blog post on Dropbox partnerships in construction
Illustration by Justin Tran

Work Culture

Expanded partnerships give construction teams more ways to collaborate


Published on March 20, 2018

Over the past decade, we’ve evolved from simple file storage to a more unified home for work.

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With the introduction of products like Dropbox Paper, we expanded from keeping files in sync to keeping teams in sync. We want to provide one central place where your team can easily access everything they need to take projects from start to finish.

Throughout our evolution, we’ve seen a growing number of industries adopt our collaboration platform. More and more construction companies, in particular, rely on Dropbox Business to support end-to-end collaboration with architecture and engineering companies.

So what’s driving their adoption of Dropbox Business? Let’s look at recent data and insights to put this momentum in context.

The costs of slow adoption

Earlier this year, we posted about the challenges facing the construction industry due to their slow adoption of new technologies. Considered one of “least-digitized industries in the world,” the construction industry has an enormous opportunity to add value to their sector by adding technologies that improve productivity.

The question is, how can companies like Dropbox help teams and professionals make the transition from traditional paper-based processes to more streamlined digital alternatives?


Construction image from Built customer story

The modern content lifecycle

Within Dropbox mobile, desktop, and web clients, thousands of files are opened, edited, and shared each day by construction users and teams collaborating with architecture and engineering companies.

Each build and lifecycle is unique, but we see broad patterns of content collaboration. Files often begin with architecture and engineering companies, teams, and users providing source documents, such as contracts (PDFs), RFP bid responses (PDFs), blueprints (CAD), and rendering drafts (DWG). Construction design, sales, and planning teams review these files. They share feedback with their architecture and engineering counterparts, who apply the feedback and distribute back final content such as RFP awards (PDFs), and engineering construction requirements (Excel).

The teams then distribute these files to partner construction companies, subcontractors, real estate firms, regulatory bodies, and community partners.

Meanwhile, that same content is shared with on-site construction workers who, in the process of building, also record, save, and share site photos (JPEG, PNG), blueprint updates (DWG, CAD), project updates (Excel, PDF) back to managers, surveyors, engineers, and subcontractors.

This pattern and file movement continues throughout the building process. Managers continue sharing photos (JPEG, PNG), and updates (Excel, PDF) to clients and regulatory partners until the project is complete. No matter which file type they’re sharing, a consistent pattern emerges, showing three stages in the modern content lifecycle: content creation, feedback, and distribution.

Unfortunately, the modern content lifecycle isn’t always seamless. Content silos can emerge, limiting effective collaboration across internal and external stakeholders. Teams and users can lose time and energy searching for their content across different tools, platforms, and devices. For teams in the construction industry, this can limit digital collaboration efforts, on-site field execution, and back-office competitive advantage. It also can create vulnerabilities and increase the threat of data breaches when disparate content, tools, and devices are not secured.

Manage projects from start to finish with Dropbox Business

An open, connective platform

These days, no one wants to be locked into a single ecosystem. Our users expect to use a range of smart technologies.

That’s why the DBX Platform is designed to give users freedom to use the tools and platforms they prefer. As an open, connective platform for today’s leading productivity tools and devices, Dropbox is in a unique position to connect all of these technologies.

We do this by bridging content silos among productivity tools, users, and teams. For example, last November we announced a Dropbox integration with the AutoCAD desktop application, and native .DWG previews of files in Dropbox that will be released later this year.

To support construction professionals even further, we’re announcing expanded partnerships with Aconex, BulldozAIR, Fieldwire, and PlanGrid. Aconex: This partnership provides integrated cloud-based collaboration solutions to the construction and engineering industry.

  • Manage draft versions of drawings on Dropbox before distributing the final versions to the construction teams via Aconex
  • Upload Dropbox drawings to the Aconex document registration before distributing the information according to specific project processes
“We’re excited to partner with Dropbox to help teams better coordinate on large projects by leveraging data across platforms. Our goal is to continue driving accountability and insights to teams, with a growing ecosystem of integrations that helps our users build even more amazing things.” —Tim Olshansky, Chief Technology Officer of Aconex

BulldozAIR: A 2-way sync with documents stored in Dropbox folders planned this year will give construction professionals a more streamlined process for project management.

  • Upload, save and update plans, docs and reports directly from Dropbox to BulldozAIR
  • Automatically save BulldozAIR site reports to Dropbox, keeping everything up to date and available to your teams, on site and in the office
“The Dropbox integration is a major achievement in the BulldozAIR product roadmap. Dropbox is extremely robust and reliable. With the addition of the two-way sync (with documents stored in Dropbox folders) planned this year, construction professionals will be empowered with a more streamlined process for project management.”—Ali El Hariri and Maxence Lerigner, Co-Founders of BulldozAIR

Fieldwire: Dropbox partnered with Fieldwire, a centralized, mobile-first platform for construction crews to access and manage project documentation and communications.

  • Upload, access, and modify the latest documents in Fieldwire through a two-way integration with Dropbox to ensure all team members and external collaborators are working off the same set of documents.
  • Use Fieldwire’s markup tools and task management capabilities to track on-site changes and assign work to team members. The set of plans—with red-lines and progress photos—is then synced with Dropbox to share progress with the wider project team in real-time.
“Our integration with the Dropbox global collaboration platform brings real-time updates to the content that construction teams and professionals rely upon. Fieldwire users need to know when changes to projects and plans happen, which is why our two-way sync with Dropbox was developed to seamlessly centralize work, whether in the office, on the road, or at the construction site.” —Yves Frinault, Founder and CEO of Fieldwire

PlanGrid: The integration with Dropbox lets you upload your plans directly to PlanGrid and back to Dropbox.

  • Save As-Builts and Snapshots back to Dropbox to access them on any device or platform
  • Build and collaborate from anywhere with real-time access to construction information generated from PlanGrid in Dropbox
  • File uploading integration with Dropbox ensures you’re in sync
“Construction projects are becoming increasingly complex and require sophisticated coordination between many different organizations. Through our experience of working on over a million projects around the world, we know seamless collaboration with everyone on a job site is the fastest way to increase productivity both in the field and the office. Together with Dropbox, we’re empowering construction teams to do more with less.” — James Cook, Head of Strategic Alliances and Partnerships at PlanGrid

More integrations to bring tools and teams together

The DBX Platform solves pain points for construction businesses of all sizes: independent contractors, boutique firms, large organizations.

Currently, more than 75% of all Dropbox teams link to one or more third-party applications. In addition to the partners highlighted above, Dropbox offers a wide range of integrations that make team collaboration easier.

Thanks to a new partnership with Google Cloud, Dropbox will soon integrate Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides into its file system. Our newly expanded partnership with Salesforce will unlock new ways for teams to collaborate across sales, service, marketing, commerce, and more. Our integrations with Adobe, and Autodesk create a common bridge between productivity tools, teams, and users.

To provide secure construction workflows and collaboration, partner integrations with VMware, Cisco Cloudlock, Netskope, and Okta help complement existing IT, security, and management settings.

To help organize and retrieve content and coordinate projects, Dropbox also integrates with tools like DocuSign, Salesforce records, and more.

Dropbox Business users are more likely* to link to a third-party applications, including Salesforce and AutoCAD mobile. This suggests that Dropbox Business accelerates the likelihood of unifying disparate tools, devices, and connecting workflows on top of a common product and platform.

A quarter billion files in Dropbox

Last year, construction users and teams—collaborating with architecture and engineering companies—created and saved more than a quarter billion files in Dropbox. That translates to roughly 25 million files per month or 800,000 files per day. 80% of these files were created by Dropbox users and teams in the construction industry. Thousands of those files created and saved are also opened, edited and shared each day—including JPG, PDF, DWG, and Excel files, the content types AEC teams use most often when they collaborate.

Dropbox Business supports collaboration at every stage

From North America to EMEA to APJ, construction users and teams use Dropbox to support end-to-end projects and real-world collaboration. Every day, construction users and teams open, edit, and share thousands of files in Dropbox.

For bid and tender management, Dropbox makes the process easier by providing mobile access, fast, reliable sync, and content aggregation.

When teams need to connect at job sites, Dropbox solves VPN challenges and enables them to keep collaborating, editing content, and adding comments while they’re away from the office.

We also simplify data maintenance and record management by enabling professional sharing, online previews, and cloud-scale searching capabilities. In many of the 300,000 businesses using Dropbox Business, we see a recurring pattern:

  • Individuals use Dropbox at their office, on their mobile devices, or on the job site
  • Dropbox Business becomes integrated with existing IT, security, and management settings
  • More teams use Dropbox Business to securely collaborate on content
  • Strategic partnerships connect the Dropbox collaboration platform to smart tools like Aconex, BulldozAIR, Fieldwire, and PlanGrid

3 key factors driving adoption

1. Increased ROI.

When EJ Prescott wanted to modernize their submittals process, they decided to transition from paper to Dropbox. The result? 245% ROI. “We’ve challenged the status quo on a number of processes with Dropbox, but the most impactful changes have been to our bid workflow,” said Project Manager Joe Hersom. “For a long time, we relied on paper photocopies, pen and pencil mark-ups, scanning and emailing documents to submit bids.”

2. Saved time. "Almost immediately after deploying Dropbox, we realized how different this process could look,” Hersom explains. “Now, we organize, edit and assemble all submittal packets right in Dropbox, then share those packets externally with engineers using shared links. That change alone has freed up over 500 hours of project manager time, allowing us to focus on providing better service to our clients.”

3. Streamlined collaboration. Lee Nugent, IT Director at Tellepsen says Dropbox plays a big role in enabling their teams to do their best work. “For our users in the field, performance loading large files has improved dramatically, collaboration with subcontractors, partners and clients has been streamlined and the frustration of dealing with unreliable Internet has disappeared.”

To learn more about how the construction industry uses Dropbox, download our eBook, Build Smarter with Tech.

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*When compared to Dropbox Basic/Plus users in the construction industry. Note: All user data analyzed by Dropbox was aggregated and anonymized. Dropbox identified construction industry users algorithmically such that no individual user data was exposed to Dropbox or any third-party.