Connect field and office
Field and office communications have been very slow to evolve. The process of relaying information has stagnated for literally 100’s years. Pen and paper have reigned supreme over construction documentation. This manual process lends itself to mistakes, unreadable reports, lost paper work, and has to be physically handed over to the office to secure and store. There is no transparency, thus no accountability. I’m sure all of us have a horror story of searching through Bankers boxes at the storage unit trying to find documentation (that we aren’t even sure exists) to settle a dispute.
If field to office communication has been a universal problem for so long, what's changed that bridges that gap?
First it's devices. The flip phones are nearly extinct and smart phones are now standard issue. It’s hard to believe that there was no iPhone 10 years ago, certainly there was no iPad. The introduction of these devices started a shift toward mobile documentation. But it took time. Time for the devices to become popular and also for the networks to support high-speed data transfer.
We have reached the point now where the barriers to field and office connectivity have fallen. The devices and their apps are designed to be fat-finger friendly, and you have to try to elude the reach of cell service.
Then why are only 40% of construction firms using mobile apps? Well the construction industry is notoriously slow to adopt new technology. Also there is a perception that the field foremen are not capable.
I hear this statement weekly. “This won’t work, my field guys aren't ‘computer savvy’.” You might as well be saying that they’re not smart enough.
In any construction firm you will find four general roles, Field Foreman, Project Manager, Construction Accounting, and Executive Management. While these are well-defined roles with clear delineations, no single department can stand on their own. If there is a failure to communicate properly on any one of these levels the effects will splash across everyone's desk. It’s critical for you to remove the team from their silos and promote a culture of collaboration. When walls are built and problems are just tossed over from department to department it exposes the firm as a whole to increased, unnecessary risk.