At first, people used mobile devices mainly for gaming, entertainment and social networking. Although the three categories still account for the majority of time spent in apps by mobile users (32 percent, 28 percent and 8 percent, respectively, according to Flurry Analytics), more people are beginning to download work-related apps.

In fact, in 2013, Forrest Research Inc., declared that working anywhere, anytime is “the new normal.” Additionally, a growing number of companies are adopting bring your own device (BYOD) programs for employees.

Construction professionals have traditionally been slow to adopt new technologies that can streamline document sharing and project management. However, as more mobile devices enter the jobsite, forward-thinking project managers are finding that they no longer have to waste valuable time running back and forth from the site to the office to the trailer to repeatedly update, print, and distribute plans and documents that are vital to a project’s success. Managing the project, and all of the paperwork that comes along with it, can be done on a mobile device with the right application.

Browsers vs. Apps
The mobile web has two distinct access points: browsers and apps. Browsers are great for surfing the Internet, but if a device has a smaller screen than a desktop computer or laptop, using a browser to read content can be difficult—especially for older eyes. An app, on the other hand, is designed for easier viewing and navigation on smaller screens. It also takes users directly to their destination, whether that be a calculation tool or a cloud service that houses all of the project data.

By adding an app to the mix, mobile devices connect directly to the construction software to quickly access and modify project data—from anywhere—with the tap of a finger. There’s no need to type in a web address on a tiny keyboard, or to find a bookmark on a mobile web browser that’s probably too small to read without squinting.

Another benefit of using a mobile app is offline usage, with updates syncing to the cloud once the device is back online. This is ideal for construction professionals on remote jobsites without access to an Internet connection.

Cloud-based construction project management apps provide every member of the team with vital project information, in real time, from one centralized repository. Every time a contract adjustment is made, a commitment is entered or a change order is submitted, it’s tracked in the software. Project team members won’t have to leave the jobsite to have immediate access to up-to-date project data, which means they can make informed decisions and keep the project moving forward.

Electronically documenting and tracking all uploads, revisions, changes and linked items throughout the duration of a project provides three major benefits to project managers: minimizing printing costs, reducing liability and holding team members accountable.

What to Look for
Be sure the app allows the user to:
  • create punch lists, RFIs and daily log entries;
  • enter timecard data;
  • view current drawings, documents and submittals;
  • upload and mark up photos;
  • access directories;
  • track and archive communications; and
  • set individual role-based permissions to protect confidential data.
The construction software and its dedicated apps also should:
  • provide an intuitive and easy-to-use interface;
  • be accessible from any web browser, tablet or smartphone;
  • send automatic email notifications for updates and overdue items;
  • run secure, automatic, real-time backups; and
  • allow the user to work offline, with updates automatically syncing when they are back online.
And the software/app provider should: 
  • provide training and ongoing customer support;
  • allow unlimited users and data storage for no additional fees;
  • provide software updates at no additional cost;
  • provide secure login portals; and
  • maintain secure, offsite data centers and servers.
When the right project management app is selected, team members can use their mobile devices to archive and track emails, contracts, drawings, daily logs, RFIs, submittals and punch list items, as well as answer any project-related question instantaneously. RFIs can be created and assigned from a smartphone at the jobsite. Product specs attached to submittals can be accessed in seconds.

Ultimately, project managers and their teams will be more productive and save time and money on every jobsite. 


Cody Wiesen is an account manager for Procore Technologies, Santa Barbara, Calif. For more information, visit procore.com