Amazing Apps

 MOBILE APP 01You can combat the culprit of workplace inefficiencies with a mobile app.   

By Russ Taylor

The construction industry depends on fast decision-making, attention to detail, and adaptability to continuously changing information. Companies need workplace efficiencies and employee productivity to keep up with the pace of the business.

One major area of a workplace inefficiency in the industry is in paper processes. It only takes one disruption in the workflow, such as a misstep when capturing manual data that is relayed to the main office, to create a domino effect, leading to bigger problems. A custom app on a tablet or mobile device that digitalizes these types of paper processes and conforms to the company’s business rules can significantly improve efficiency, while keeping operations running smoothly. 

According to a recent survey by TrackVia, 59 percent of construction managers say that when data is collected manually, the No. 1 issue they face is incomplete data. Sixty-five percent of managers say manual processes cause change and work orders to get missed some to all of the time, and 88 percent of executives who use four or more data systems spend at least 1,300 hours per year trying to assemble data into usable reports.

What do these astounding statistics tell us? Manual collection of job site data is likely to be the No. 1 culprit of workplace inefficiency. Ensuring all employees and teams have the right information and in real time allow projects to be completed on time and on budget. A custom mobile app that closely mirrors the current paper system can be easy to use, resulting in minimal disruption in the workflow and a shorter learning curve for employees. 

There are many paper-based processes that can be streamlined digitally to create more efficiencies. Some include:

• Employee time sheets – Employee hours and production hours are the most tracked items on paper. The information written by field employees is manually entered by job site or pay category into the payroll system by someone in an office. Oftentimes, incomplete or erroneous information complicates the data entry and slows down the workflow. The step for an admin to check for errors becomes obsolete with a digital time sheet, as the business rule or logic is placed into every form field to be validated prior to submission.  

• Purchase orders – Purchase orders are important to keep a project on budget. For construction companies that don’t have a purchasing program integrated in their accounting system, the process can be very time consuming, and pricing mistakes can be made if budgets are not carefully tracked. If a change in the order is needed, having accurate information at the job site can mean the difference between finishing a project or potentially losing a job. Verbal communication in change orders can be misinterpreted or incomplete, or details may be missed during communications. An app that can log and track purchase orders, get orders authorized and push them to the appropriate departments is invaluable, especially when time is of the essence.

• Job-related forms - Incident reports, pre- and post-job safety protocol, emergency action plans, and other job-related forms are crucial for workers on the work site. When these paper forms can be loaded digitally on an app and updated as needed, it becomes a one-stop place for the foreman or other field employees to find all necessary forms. Completed documents in an app allow for digital signature as well as IP timestamps, and they can be easily compiled for auditing or legal needs.

If you are ready for a custom app, a good place to start is with leadership and managers, who can prioritize the company’s needs. It’s also beneficial to talk to the foremen who are the most familiar with the day-to-day work. Understanding the level of technical knowledge in those who will be using the app is equally important, as the goal for having the app is to avoid disrupting the workflow or getting in the way of an individual’s performance. The more information available, the more prepared your company will be when speaking with an app developer. Start with your end goal in order to properly communicate direction and insight to the app developer. 

A good custom app can alleviate most issues around workplace inefficiency due to manual processes. Shifting toward a more streamlined, digitized workflow will increase productivity across the entire organization. 

Russ Taylor is the CEO and founder of Orange County, Calif.-based FUSION OF IDEAS, a mobile integrator that helps businesses maximize mobility in their organizations through brand experiences, integration logistics and custom app development. Visit FUSION OF IDEAS at www.fusionofideas.com

 

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