Construction Executive included this article about considerations for finding mobile apps that are right for your construction team.
Construction Apps for Crew Foremen and Front-Line Supervisors
Individual field service technicians drive revenue for construction and service companies, so it’s not surprising that an abundance of mobile apps have popped up to cater to them.
Unfortunately, foremen and front-line supervisors who manage large field crews have been left somewhat underserved. It’s undeniable that these are the people who have the greatest influence over the profit and loss of large commercial and industrial construction projects, yet the amount of time they spend on reporting has steadily increased. Production reports, crew time sheets, reimbursement requests, safety reports, environmental compliance, equipment usage–the list goes on and on. Every minute they spend in the job trailer completing reports means less time working with their crews to complete jobs safely, on time and on budget.
The good news is there are apps designed to make life easier for those who manage large crews.
Here are three considerations for finding mobile apps that are right for your construction team.
1) Easy to use: Construction apps don’t admit to being hard to use, so here are some things to look for: wizards or templates for guidance through the setup process, and the ability to copy prior time sheets so creating the next one is a snap. Tablet-based field reporting apps tend to be more popular than smartphone-based apps because of their higher resolution and greater screen real estate. Look for an app that supports Apple and Android tablets, and then go with the preferred format.
2) Seamless integration: Look for an app where data is captured in one central application to initiate a seamless integration process. “Point solutions” may claim to integrate, but it is common for contractors to later discover they’re still dealing with the same contradictions across multiple data sources that they initially sought to eliminate.
3) Capture time, equipment and production information: One of the more time-consuming activities crew foremen would love to optimize is the field collection of crew time and reimbursements. Look for an app that will simplify the recording of time to cost codes and general ledger accounts. The ability to process reimbursements, such as employee purchases or mileage, saves time for the supervisor and reduces reimbursable expense errors. The right construction app also makes it easy to accurately report the various pieces of equipment used so they can be properly billed to the job while improving equipment utilization across the enterprise. Finally, look for an app that can improve accuracy of reporting percent complete or installed quantities, such as lineal feet of pipe installed in a day or shift.
In addition to the time saved for the front-line supervisor, the ability to quickly access this field-collected data enables better real-time decision-making across the organization.
So, why are construction apps a worthwhile investment? Because great crew foremen are worth their weight in gold and an outstanding crew foreman is one the hardest positions to replace. Don’t let it come to that. Make their lives easier by providing the tools they need to be efficient and effective.
Jaclyn Schmitz is a product manager for Penta Technologies. She was instrumental in bringing to market PENTA Work Package Manager, a series of crew-based field reporting apps built to help crew foremen who supervise large crews to better manage schedule adherence, risks, costs, resources, safety and more. Based in Brookfield, WI, for over 35 years, Penta Technologies has been helping commercial and industrial contractors improve efficiency and overall effectiveness through world-class enterprise construction software and services.