5 tips for unifying your data and optimizing mobility for field personnel

In an effort to remain competitive in today’s construction marketplace, company owners continuously seek new ways to automate their business processes, improve productivity and decrease operational costs. The use of smartphones and tablets can streamline workflow and improve efficiency on the construction site. However, hand-held devices are only the access point for estimating, managing and tracking applications. User-friendly, collaborative interaction through software that streamlines the workflow process is required for these construction applications to prove their worth.

Optimization resides within data unification, which allows businesses to save both time and money by leveraging the ease and consistency of one product with the same look and feel, pushed down to every end user on a construction site. This ensures that businesses don’t spend unnecessary time and resources training on more than one system. A useful and unified mobility application will also facilitate multiple role-based functions. Only an application hosted on one platform can provide true real-time 
information to ensure companies are making accurate decisions. Below is a checklist of features and functions that must be strongly considered.

Provide Mobile 
Field Log Support

There are several valuable pieces of information contained within any mobile field log that must be supported. The option to instantly analyze daily production enables a foreman to see the progress being made and helps the foreman set realistic goals. The ability to submit change requests if an additional piece of equipment is needed is crucial.

With a unified platform, employees don’t need to switch back and forth between multiple applications to fill out forms. A comprehensive mobile application that offers multiple features to collect all the necessary data in one place is required. Mobile field logs should give construction companies the ability to:

  • Track production quantities, employee and equipment hours, materials, subcontractors and expenses.
  • Analyze daily production.
  • Share relevant photos, notes or special events.
  • Track multiple jobs and business units.
  • Offer users a built-in approval 
workflow process.
  • Customize automatic error checking.
  • Provide a comprehensive dashboard.
  • Easily customize data entry.

Seek Scalable Features

As technology continues to improve, mobile capabilities should evolve with it. For example, telematics enables businesses to track asset deployment between multiple locations, reducing fuel consumption while increasing overall dispatching efficiencies. All equipment can be armed with GPS trackers to show important meter readings and how long equipment is running or sitting idle. This means companies can decrease the amount of rented equipment by moving a piece of equipment to another jobsite when it’s not being used. Telematics enables the collection of data from the machine to improve overall fleet efficiency. Mobility applications should take this into account and have the ability to pull data into one unified platform.

Embrace the Cloud

The cloud is a collection of servers and routers whose services are rented for data access and storage needs and is accessed over the Internet. Throughout the past 10-15 years, the advent of virtualization and security software, lower price points for broadband connectivity and the introduction of the smartphone and tablet to the business world, have allowed the cloud to become an affordable and 
ubiquitous service to any construction company. Listed below are several 
benefits of using cloud applications.

  1. Applications are available 
anywhere there is an Internet or 
cellular connection.
  2. Contractors can manage project information such as drawings, employees and equipment 
on location.
  3. Streamline operations with real-time collaborative tools.
  4. Lower the cost of ownership, i.e. no purchase and maintenance of hardware and software to process mobile applications.
  5. Reduce frequency of IT-related headaches.

Leverage Field Log Data

Leveraging field log data to gain visibility into production can help supervisors make course corrections and improve the outcome of any project.

Equally important is the ability to integrate with a range of accounting solutions. The primary benefit of importing this data into a unified system is that accounting teams no longer have to decipher handwritten time sheets for equipment work orders, manually enter information or validate data and cost codes to produce payroll checks and invoices, using valuable time.

Take Advantage of Training

Adopting a new software solution can be overwhelming, but a detailed rollout plan can help without overwhelming employees. Some companies may feel that just an initial training is sufficient. This can be detrimental to the business, as employees won’t be leveraging the full productivity and functionality promised from the mobile solution provider.

Multiple training sessions are recommended, and can be an enormous benefit to utilization and streamlined efficiency.

As the use of mobile technology continues to enhance field workflow, it becomes vital that the solutions are unified and integrated with many back office platforms. A robust mobile solution allows field staff to access real-time information in one place, provides a holistic view of job progress and accurately tracks employee equipment and other resources. A keen understanding of the capabilities of mobile software is 
necessary to ensure the right match for any field personnel.