Today’s mobile devices are affordable and powerful enough to take construction management technology into the field, ultimately transforming project delivery. Inspectors now complete checklists in the field on mobile devices. Executives monitor quality and safety for all current projects simultaneously from their offices. Owners stay on top of construction progress without picking up the phone, and documentation handoff is smoother than ever. 

Efficiency-enabling mobile technology has reached the construction jobsite—allowing companies that have implemented 3-D software, such as building information modeling (BIM), to share the environmental, time- and cost-saving advantages of working in models with field personnel.

Cloud computing also is starting to play a larger role. With cloud computing, service providers use the Internet to offer on-demand, pay-as-you-go access to software. Firms can adopt cloud-based field management and avoid a large investment in databases, software or IT management. Free trials are common with cloud-based services, making them inexpensive to pilot. Cloud computing also enables easy information sharing across a large project team. A subcontractor can join a cloud-enabled field management process simply by downloading an app. While the barrier to getting started with field management is low, the benefits ripple through virtually every aspect of project execution—and every corner of the construction site.

Consider the four leading contributors to construction success: quality, safety, cost and schedule. Construction management technology has long provided executives with a way to proactively manage cost and schedule. But absent field management technology, executives must rely on inefficient manual processes, such as paper-based checklists, to manage quality and safety. People in the field waste enormous amounts of time checking statuses, entering data into spreadsheets and tracking down information needed to address issues.

In contrast to traditional processes, field management technology provides proactive, efficient management of quality and safety where it matters most: the point of delivery. Team members can bring their iPads onsite to complete checklists, spot issues, conduct inspections and document commissioning processes. When field personnel have coordination questions, they can pull up the BIM model or 2-D documentation to get answers quickly. Field managers can spend more time ensuring the work is completed correctly and less time entering data in the jobsite trailer.

Field management technology also allows problems to be solved more efficiently. Team members can document an issue with their mobile device—pinpointing its location on project designs, attaching photographs and routing the problem to the correct people. Timestamps document when field personnel spotted the issue and when the appropriate parties addressed it, allowing the issue to be fixed quickly and thoroughly.

Back at the office, field management technology allows construction progress to be tracked on a desktop computer using a project management dashboard, providing better visibility into how well team members execute quality and safety processes. It also enables corrective action to be taken more quickly if personnel or a subcontractor deviates from the firm’s standard processes.

Compared to paper-based processes, field management technology can save as much as a day’s worth of tracking down and disseminating project information each week. Firms with field management technology report fairly dramatic results. One large contractor that specializes in infrastructure estimates it saw a significant return on investment and a marked increase in its ability to manage safety and quality. Broader research has uncovered even more impressive results, such as an average timesaving of 9.1 hours per week, per user, according to a study of the use of field management technology in the construction industry.

General contractors and subcontractors are rapidly embracing mobile field management solutions, including firms with fewer than 10 employees. Additionally, many owners are mandating its use due to the quality and schedule benefits. Firms that want to stay ahead of competitors should explore how field management can transform the way they deliver projects at the point of construction. 


Josh Kanner is an industry strategy manager for Autodesk. For more information, visit www.autodesk.com