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Four Keys to Smart Mobile Construction Software Investment

Mobile apps for construction can help identify defects, improve safety and avoid risks, as shown in a proof-of-concept risk evaluation for a factious project. Image courtesy of Autodesk.

Construction is an industry of mobile workers – the modern nomads. Whether working on a variety of jobsites around town, or traveling the world supervising projects, construction managers must be always ready to make crucial decisions that have an impact on the success or failure of projects.

The head of a large construction company, Steve, shared four keys to smart mobile construction software investment. He holds top frequent-flyer status on three major airlines. Responsible for several new builds and a dozen or so major renovations at any given time, he is accountable to shareholders to ensure that all projects are completed on time, ahead of schedule and with minimal asset downtime. When considering technology investments to support his mobile workforce, here is what’s important to this archetype of the 21st century nomad.

Agility

No two jobs are alike and no two days are alike. Steve carries a large tablet, a smartphone and a laptop in his bag. His technology needs to work seamlessly across these platforms and dish up critical information, including 2-D drawings, 3-D models, specifications, tasks and reminders. From the smallest renovation to the largest new build, Steve counts on mobile apps to complete his job. And he’s not alone: according to the JBKnowledge 2016 Construction Technology Report, 80.3 percent of respondents considered mobile capabilities of software very important or important, up from 58.9 percent in 2012.

Fig 1 Autodesk 4 Keys to Smart Mobile

Transparency

With a remote workforce, Steve needs to be able to get up-to-the-minute information on project progress. While site managers form the core of his network of capabilities, from time to time these managers self-report in an optimistic way. To ensure transparency to the site, Steve insists on regular updates through photographs and checklists and will occasionally instigate a virtual “site visit” through his mobile device’s built-in capabilities.

Simplicity

Construction is complex enough on its own merits, and Steve’s projects are no different. Whether renovating a four-star hotel or completing a new office complex for a corporate customer, Steve expects his software to streamline his day and keep him and his teams focused on the customer. As much as possible, he relies on his tablet as his core computing platform and keeps it at his side throughout the day. He deploys apps for viewing and marking up drawings, showing models to customers, keeping up with crew progress and importantly, ensuring a defect-free and safe project with field management capabilities.

Trust

Steve absolutely has to be able to trust not only his people, but also his processes and choices of technology. This means that his apps should work together seamlessly and ensure that information about the project is internally consistent. His dashboards and charts show him which contractors are most reliable about keeping promises, where his projects are succeeding and failing to deliver a quality customer experience and where he and his crews need to focus their time.

By deploying connected technology that is simple, transparent, trustworthy and agile enough to adapt to varying project needs, nomad Steve is ready to make his three-city, two-day loop with confidence. And, unlike his predecessors, there’s not a stack of paper or roll of drawings in sight as he exits the jetway and sprints to his next flight.

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