Minimum Disruption Required: How Developing a Custom App Is Easier, Cheaper and a Major Time Saver
BY RUSS TAYLOR, CEO & FOUNDER, FUSION OF IDEAS
The construction industry has always been mobile with field employees at jobsites or in transit and set up in trailers. Keeping the field and office teams in real-time collaboration is invaluable, especially if it means major cost savings to the company and client.
A custom app on a tablet or any mobile device that conforms to the company’s business rules can save time and money by digitizing the workflow and as a result, reducing the margin of error. For example, a project manager can report construction errors, immediately, while building a system to send automatic notifications to whoever is responsible for fixing the error.
TIME IS MONEY
Keeping everyone connected with the right information, and in real time, means projects are more likely to be completed on time and on budget. There are many paper-based processes that can be streamlined to create more efficiencies. A custom mobile app that closely mirrors the current paper process, but digitized, is easier to adapt so there is minimal disruption in the workflow and a shorter learning curve for employees.
A custom, digital app can transform endless business processes, some include:
- Employee timesheets - Employee hours and production hours are the most tracked items on paper. The information written by field employees is manually entered by job site or pay category into the payroll system by someone in an office. Oftentimes, incomplete or erroneous information complicates the data entry and slows down the process. The step for an admin to check for errors becomes obsolete with a digital timesheet as business rules or logic gets placed into every form field and can be validated before submission.
- Purchase orders - Purchase orders are important to keep a project on budget. For construction companies that don’t have a purchasing program that integrates into their accounting system, the process can be very time-consuming, and pricing mistakes can be made if budgets are not carefully tracked. If a change in the order is needed, having accurate information at the jobsite can mean the difference between finishing a project on time or in budget. Verbal communication in change orders can be misinterpreted or incomplete, or details may be missed during communications. An app that can log and track purchase orders, get orders authorized and pushed to the appropriate departments, is invaluable, especially when time is of the essence.
- Job-related forms - Incident reports, pre- and post-job safety protocol, emergency action plans, and other job-related forms are crucial for workers on the work site. When these paper forms can be loaded digitally on an app and updated as needed, it becomes a one-stop place for the foreman or other field employees to find all necessary forms. Completed documents in an app allow for digital signature as well as IP timestamps, and they can be easily compiled for auditing or legal needs.
WORKFLOW JUST GOT EASIER
Automating the paper process allows executives to get a better insight into the workflow. From tracking employees’ locations in the field to time spent at a jobsite, adjustments in business rules can be made in a more calculated and strategic way.
Additionally, when everything is digitized, gathering and sorting essential business data is easier than ever. For example, employers can track the materials purchased, equipment rented and mileage used on each jobsite. When all data is stored, it can be organized, analyzed and presented more effortlessly.
READY TO CHANGE YOUR GAME?
If you are ready for a custom app or thinking about one, where do you start? Gather leadership and managers together to brainstorm the company’s needs, but also talk to the field reps who are more familiar with the day-to-day — details are key. Understanding how tech-savvy those who will be using the app is equally important, as the goal for having the app is to not disrupt the workflow or get in the way of an individual’s performance. The more information available, the more prepared your company will be when speaking with an app developer. Know the high-level benefit desired and communicate direction and insight to the app developer about how the industry and processes work for best results.
Implementing a new process can be daunting and even intimidating. Sometimes it’s a huge step to go outside the comfort zone of integrating new technology or a new way of doing things. However, the benefits can empower both employees and employers with efficiencies to get their jobs done. A good app developer will truly understand the company’s current needs, workflow and culture, and be forward thinkers that can anticipate future needs. A good custom app will ease the jobs for both employers and employees, be a cost-effective way to manage the internal workings and ultimately, save everyone’s time.
Russ Taylor is the founder and CEO of Orange County, Calif.-based Fusion of Ideas. Fusion of Ideas is the only American mobile integration company of its kind offering end-to-end mobile device branding experiences, in-house app development as well as mobile integration programs and consulting for some of the largest brands in the world. Founded in 2003, Fusion has partnered with some of the world’s top brands to transform their business processes and elevate their brand equity using smart mobility solutions. Visit Fusion of Ideas at www.fusionofideas.com.