Mobile Field Technologies | Industry Blog | Viewpoint Construction Software

Mobile Field Technologies

Though many mobile field-technology options are now available, frequently the solutions have been under-utilized. Viewpoint’s Aiden Dalley spoke recently with Sourceable‘s Steve Hansen about the factors he sees contributing to underutilization:

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When it comes to setting and measuring KPIs, service managers experience better results when they’re focused on the process of delivering service, rather than the results. For example, rather than measuring profitability or number of service calls per day, start by analyzing the success of the processes involved in delivering service.

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This is the third post in Viewpoint’s new blog series by Richard Scott focusing on the Value of Mobile Field Technology

Punch, Snag, Action, Defect, Outstanding Work, Variation, Safety, Damage; there are many ways our customers put our task management tools to work. In this blog, we’ll take a look at the key aspects of Viewpoint For Field View’s tasks management capability and introduce some of the principles which differentiate our approach to managing tasks at an operational level whilst ensuring the data integrity our customers need to drive business intelligence.

Instructing “Someone”, to go “Somewhere” and do “Something” and keeping track of that request is the essence of task management. In its simplest form, this could be a verbal instruction followed up a few days later with a statement like “Have you done that?” This type of uncontrolled and unaudited practise still has its place in the dynamic world of a live construction project, but when the number of tasks you’re required to track starts running into thousands, it’s just not an option to do this. That’s why when the Field View team were first asked to improve the snagging process (or punch lists as our US colleague call it), we started by deconstructing the someone, somewhere, something and thought carefully about how this could be captured quickly and easily using a mobile device.

The “Someone” in the task management process is usually a specific sub-contractor but could also be any other member of the project supply chain. Supply chain members in Field View are defined using four key attributes, Package Name, Trade Discipline, Organisation Name and Role, yet it’s not essential we encourage our customers to define these attributes at the business level. Ensuring that all your projects use the same language is necessary for providing good quality reporting and business intelligence. If your site teams describe the same discipline in multiple ways then it affects your ability to accurately analyse data, deliver reports and determine performance. For example, being consistent with terms like “Painter”, “Decorator”, “Painter & Decorator”, “Finishes” or whatever term you use to describe the organisation that applies paint is important. A supply chain members “Role” on the project determines what information their people can see and what they are able to do when they use the Field View mobile app or when they logon to the website. Field View project roles are configurable and allow very high level of control and fine tuning of a supply chain members rights.

The “Somewhere” in the task management process is most frequently a zone, space or room which is represented on a drawing. Field View requires a task to be assigned to a pre-defined project element which can be defined either as a Location (as described above) or as an Asset, for example an item of plant or equipment. It’s interesting to see that the thinking that was applied to Field View is almost identical to some of the standards being defined for describing today’s BIM data. In fact, so much so that project location and asset data contained within a model that has been extracted to a COBie compliant spreadsheet can be imported directly into Field View and used to populate Field View project geometry. We also recognised early on that our customers work best within a visual world and we introduced the idea of marking up 2D construction drawings over a decade ago. Field View has a unique approach to drawings called calibration. Drawing calibration allows a 2D drawing to become spatially aware which enables a Field View user to drag a task marker onto the drawing without having to pre-select a room space or zone, safe in the knowledge that our app knows where the marker has been placed. QR codes can be used to quickly select a specific location with the Field View app automatically zooming into the relevant part of the drawing – ready for you to start working.

blog3 task screen shot FV on tablet

 

The “Something” in the task management process is managed using Field View common task libraries and again, whilst not essential to the operation of the system, ensures that a task can be raised with the minimum amount of user interaction or screen taps. Common task libraries allow standard operational issues for a supply chain member to be pre-defined and applied across all projects and new library items can be added on the fly whilst out on site.

Field View tasks are user-definable which means that our customer are able to engineer their task management system to an exact specification which is applied throughout their organisation or if necessary, create a specific task definition to meet a special project need. Task specifications are version controlled, so changes made are reflected immediately throughout your business and user community.

Workflow

Finally, any Field View task will have a workflow. A workflow is a predefined sequence of status and colour coding that determine the stage of the task within the corrective action lifecycle. For example, a punchlist task may have a four state workflow defined as “Open”, “Available for Inspection”, “Rejected” & “Closed”. Each workflow status has attributes of its own which can be set to determine whether tasks with that status remain available on the mobile application, or if picture media should be archived to optimise device memory. Task workflow status also works alongside supply chain role allowing our customers to fine tune what project supply chain members can see and what task status they are able to assign. We also maintain a full task workflow audit trail so you can look back to see who updated a task workflow, when it happened, and if it occurred via the web or on the mobile app.

So, there really is a lot more to a Field View Task than meets the eye and this is because our task management system is the result of over 15 years of feedback from operational teams who are using our tools in the field and business users who manage the data we create. This is why Field View is a lot more than just a punch list tool -it’ a sophisticated and comprehensive task management system.
So, I hear you say “This sounds very complicated and a whole lot of work to set-up”. Well it can be if you need to engineer a bespoke task management solution designed to meet the needs of a specific client or project. But if not, the chances are you will be able to use one of the many out-of-the-box Task and Workflow definitions and apply a Standard Project Role to fast-tracking your configuration and set-up.

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Viewpoint Development Partner, MSI Data recently interviewed analyst Michael Israel to get his take on why Field Service Managers should set goals that measure process over results. To read the entire article, click here: Top Field Service KPIs in 2016 and Pro Tips to Help Service Managers Meet Them: An Interview with Michael Israel

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This is the second post in Viewpoint’s new blog series by Richard Scott focusing on the Value of Mobile Field Technology. 

Successful Construction Starts with Usable Data

I was once told that successful construction is about effective communication and as the Field View product has evolved, this perspective has always been at the forefront of our strategy and development. That’s why when people declare, “It’s all about the data,” I emphatically respond, “Oh no, it’s not!” Data becomes useful when it is given context and has structure, or when it has transformed into usable information. “Ah, so it’s all about the information, then?” you ask. Well not quite; it’s about how that information is used to achieve the desired goal. And, in construction, that’s usually measured in terms of product quality, delivery, safety, environment, and cost. However you set about achieving these goals will be relative to your perspective, either operational or business.

The Operational Perspective
Since 2001, the Field View team has been focused on delivering benefits to the community that work within the bounds of the project. These are the people that I often refer to in terms of hard hats and muddy boots. They are the Project Managers, Construction Managers, Site Managers, Site Engineers, Quality Control Engineers and Safety Managers. These team members are primarily interested in how Field View can improve their day, allow them become more productive and provide better visibility into a project’s performance. These team members are tactical and would prefer to spend time out on the jobsite dealing with operational project issues rather than in the site cabin managing paperwork. Field View delivers productivity improvements that they appreciate and value; time savings, collaboration and project control are of the utmost importance.

The Business Perspective
With impressive feedback coming from the operational teams, it wasn’t long before Field View began to attract the interest of the broader business teams. We started talking to CEOs, CIOs, COOs and Directors who had a different view on the information they needed and the value it would bring to an organization. They talked to us about delivering process control and consistency, data integrity, business intelligence and a requirement to integrate with other business systems. They were looking at a bigger picture and wanted to know how Field View could be used to support the strategic interests of the enterprise as a whole. In 2008, we began the process of completely re-engineering Field View to address the needs of the enterprise community.

So how does Field View provide tangible value to both of these distinct groups? The answer lies in the history and experience built into the development of Field View. In my last blog post, I shared the lengthy history of Field View and the reputation we have earned. Field View is the result of 15 years of feedback and collaboration with the construction industry – listening, learning and innovating every day. Today, our enterprise customers have chosen Viewpoint to be their strategic technology partner and they realise that the value Field View brings to their business is actually greater than the Operational Value + Enterprise Value. Our Enterprise partners refer to Field View as a “Business process re-engineering tool.” I could not have defined Field View better myself and I think that demonstrates the power and versatility of Viewpoint’s products and services.

User Perspective Data Knowledge

 

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