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In the construction industry, mobility can be leveraged in four ways: at the desk, on the go, walking the site and with the team. Ultimately, mobility is a convenience factor that must be weighed against power (i.e., choosing the right tool to maximize productivity).

On the go or at a jobsite, using phones or tablets is convenient because the experience likely will involve taking pictures or pulling up a floor plan. Convenience and capturing information as quickly and accurately as possible without a lot of typing are the real focus of this job.

Compare that experience to working at a desk. Here, power is valued over convenience; the goal is to have a rich and productive experience. The office is a space to get paperwork done, drill down into dashboards, and spend time managing profitability and risk by reviewing financials and project information. Being productive here is different than being productive on the go.

In short, no single tool will maximize effectiveness in every circumstance. But, does optimizing efficiency create a different problem of having to manage multiple technology options?

Deep Integration Is Key
An enterprise resource planning (ERP) system with deep integration across roles and processes is critical to having the right tool for the job—and at the right time. Mobility allows people to be productive and efficient while working at a desk, while collaborating with the team, while walking jobsites, while traveling or while at home.

Consider this scenario: Bob, a construction project manager, has left the office to take some customers golfing. Just before teeing up, his phone buzzes with a notification that a job’s daily production KPI has gone red. He immediately calls the foreman and tells him he will stop by on the way, and then continues with his round of golf.

After leaving the course, Bob stops by the jobsite to do a quick walk with his foreman. Even though the site has no Internet connection, the foreman has his tablet out, taking pictures and attaching them to a digital floorplan.

The next day, Bob is surrounded by a mountain of paperwork. He is doing a deeper review of the production issue and filling out additional information on the purchase order request to make sure it is processed correctly. Fortunately, Bob’s convenient actions the previous day have expedited these clean-up tasks, and he is able to focus on closing the month out.

As illustrated in this on-the-go scenario, mobility is a personal experience. It can be tailored to how a person works best. A contractor can receive information (such as notifications, alerts, to-do tasks, appointments and meetings) directly on a mobile device; plus, he can manage workflows and see RFIs, daily logs and photos to identify or resolve issues, as well as speed up processes with rapid approvals and comments on documents.
Individual Tasks and Teamwork
Mobility also accommodates walking the site and staying efficient when at a job. Workers can extend their offices to the field with the ability to initiate project documents; collect signatures from owners, subcontractors and suppliers; and access critical project information when needed. Additionally, workers can improve field management with tools to download and review plans, create and attach items to drawings, create and track punch lists, and more.

Some may argue (and rightly so) that the real power of mobility can be seen when it comes to teamwork. It’s crucial to have a solution that allows users to review, mark up and comment on project documents; manage with ball-in-court tracking; create customized workflows; have at-a-glance dashboards to drive performance; and have a single source of truth for all stakeholders.

Alternatively, desk-related productivity requires two major activities. One is getting paperwork done. An integrated ERP solution illustrates where focus is required; helps managers efficiently tackle invoices, billing, contracts and projections; and reduces the amount of paperwork through distribution and automation tools. The other activity is managing profitability and risk. Managers must be able to rely on their software for accurate, up-to-date financials incorporating project information so they have a clear and true picture of the business.

In this age of mobility, many employees can say, “My workplace is everywhere!” But that doesn’t mean the same tool works best everywhere. Having the right tool for the right job means leveraging mobility where it helps maximize productivity regardless of location. Use the tool to fit the job. 

Tom Kobayashi is senior product manager at Viewpoint Construction Software. For more information, visit viewpoint.com.

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