by Jim Flynn

Discover how real-time data can help you gain a more productive construction workforce and maximize profitability.

The iPad has had an immediate and wide-reaching impact on personal communications.  By now, you or someone you know has one, and for many, it has likely become an indispensible tool.

The iPad has also begun to change the construction world. In March, the first construction project manager app became available for download, and this app can work with a complete construction management software system.

To better understand how the iPad can impact project management, it is worthwhile to consider what a project manager's day looks like without an iPad. Add up the time your project managers spend sorting through stacks of paper plans to find the latest version, responding to questions about delayed deliveries, finding a replacement for a crew member or subcontractor, sorting through an out-of-date job folder for a safety checklist, searching for change order details, reviewing daily field reports before a meeting- the list goes on and on and occurs at every jobsite throughout every project.

The iPad reduces the time spent on these activities because it has the capability of providing critical data in real-time. Plus, the app and the software solutions that work with this it have an intuitive, user-friendly design, making it easy for project managers to use. Thus, project managers can make confident decisions based on accurate details and know the rest of the team is using the same data.

With the iPad, the project manager can access data about past or current projects that the business maintains in its complete construction software solution from any wireless connection. This can include work-in-progress reports, change order requests and status, costs, schedules, jobsite photos, equipment details, transmittals, issues reported, daily field reports, purchase orders, open receivables and payables and much more. This eliminates the need for cumbersome job binders.

Achieve Cost Savings

The convenience and improved communication among team members saves on costs by allowing project managers to track the progress of projects more easily, be more agile in the field and better account for all aspects of the job from beginning to end. Ultimately, using the iPad helps construction businesses be more proactive and execute projects for maximum profitability.

To use the iPad as a project management tool, a construction software system and wireless connection is necessary. After that, the other cost involved is for the iPad itself, which starts at about $500. But this pays for itself by the significant amount of time saved.

Comparatively, ruggedized laptops can range from $1,500-$3,000 each, and, in many cases, a business must consider the additional expense of making sure each project manager has access to a server.

Avoid Damage

Still, concerns persist about the iPad's vulnerability to damage. Various rugged cases are available with the iPad that have layers of protection and high-quality materials that help make the device resistant to accidents and damage from drops, scratches, dents, etc., without compromising convenient touch-screen access to all the buttons and functionalities.

Find a New Way to Work

Project managers can make or break a job based on their ability to handle all of the project-related details. With a central location for all project details, such as documents, alerts, required follow-ups, project plans and more, project managers more efficiently stay on top of every task as projects move quickly along.

Construction businesses equipped to more proactively manage projects throughout the lifecycle can minimize risks, stay on schedule and budget and maximize profitability.


Construction Business Owner, June 2011