Mobile technology touches pretty much all parts of our lives these days, so it’s no surprise mobile has begun to play a significant role on construction jobsites. As we’ve discussed on Viewpoint Surveyor in the past, JBKnowledge’s Construction Technology Report from 2017 found that 83.1 percent of construction contractors surveyed believe mobile technology is important or very important for their business.
While many contractors recognize mobile technology’s important role, many still have a long way to go to make the most of mobile. Tablets, smartphones and other mobile technology can significantly improve the day-to-day tasks of employees in the field. What contractors may not realize is how adopting mobile can benefit an entire organization from the field all the way to the back office. Here are five ways mobile technology can improve your business:
Keeps Field Work Moving
As we mentioned, the use of mobile devices can simplify daily life for field crews. Using mobile software apps, users can log their time, fill out reports, complete checklists and access information fast without shuffling through papers or making phone calls to find what they need. Many of these apps integrate with larger ERP systems, which allow instant access to the on-demand data users need, as well as allow data to be captured in the field and transferred back to the company’s software system in real time.
Mobile apps for construction have gotten pretty sophisticated, so your employees can even continue work and log information without an internet connection or cell phone service. As soon as a connection is re-established, their devices can sync the data they’ve entered in the meantime.
Replaces Manual Processes and Prevents Errors
What’s one of the best things about mobile devices in the field? No paper. When you remove paper from the equation, chances of miscommunication, errors and lost documentation are dramatically reduced. Integrated mobile solutions also eliminate the need to re-enter information from paper or spreadsheets into construction management software in the office.
If a problem arises or conflicting information exists about something, employees won’t have to follow a paper trail or chase people down for answers. They can search digital documents or pull the data they need much more quickly. If someone is confused about how to execute a task in the field, they can consult plans digitally. Software apps for time tracking can also prevent simple time card errors by using GPS to alert employees and update records when moving from one jobsite to another (so they don’t log time at the wrong job).
Connects the Office and the Field
Mobile devices serve as a link between employees in the back office and crews in the field. With integrated systems, the office no longer has to wait for reports to arrive from the field by email or on paper. As soon as information is entered via mobile apps, it automatically updates data across all relevant departments and functions. This ensures that everyone — whether in the field, office or beyond — is consistently working from the same, most up-to-date set of data. This allows for faster, smarter decision-making.
Don’t forget that information flows in the other direction, too. Field employees can see changes or updated designs submitted by the office in real time, which speeds up project execution and improves accuracy.
Improves Communication and Collaboration
Mobile technology generally serves to improve communication across a company by making information accessible. But mobile software can also streamline communication processes and make it easier to share information across entire project teams. Many apps include automatic notification features, so the people who need to know something or take action get that notification right away. No need to rely on email. When you simplify communication, you save everyone time and headaches.
Boosts Efficiency and Productivity
By cutting out paper, reducing manual processes, improving data capture and making information accessible at people’s fingertips, mobile technology helps increase efficiency for everyone, which, in turn, makes projects more productive — and more profitable. That’s a win any one in your organization will get behind. The construction industry faces thin margins, and mobile technology can play an important role in reducing costs associated with drawn-out processes and wasted time.
Make a Plan for Mobile
Mobile technology benefits your entire organization, not just those who use smartphones, tablets or laptops to enter data in the field. But where should you go from here? Many contractors struggle to put concrete plans in place for the use of mobile or to standardize the technology employees use and how they use it.
As a first step, assess how employees already use mobile. Do they use personal phones? Company laptops? Which apps do they use, and are those apps standard across the company? If many of your employees use their own devices for work, you may want to consult our recent post, “The ABCs of BYOD in Construction.”
Next, do some research. See which mobile apps could help your organization and look for completely integrated solutions, like a cloud-based ERP system with a host of connected mobile applications. ViewpointOne™, our new integrated, all-in-one construction software suite could let you bundle the complete system you need. Or, take a look at other Viewpoint solutions that help connect your field crews.