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The Death of the Clipboard

Some might say the Construction industry has been slow to fully embrace the benefits modern software solutions bring. However, the realisation that the need to collaborate better and ability to track communications, project documents and key site information has opened many eyes to what some solutions now promise.

The result has been that tablet devices, in particular, are making a more frequent appearance alongside the mud, hard hats and hi-vis.  This leads to an obvious question; is it just a case of keeping up with the times or are there other issues driving the industry from bricks to bytes?

The trend towards mobile working and the increase in the use of such devices has seen the humble clipboard being pushed out of the game.  Soon the days of standing onsite in the wind and rain trying to wrestle with a form and a wet pen, all to get back to the office to try to make sense of the smudges, will be gone!

Thanks to some of today’s best mobile offerings you can now benefit from a range of hassle-free options such as scanning a QR code to identify your exact location, pulling up a drawing you need to reference, adding a snag or observation and notifying the relevant people of their required actions to complete the job with no other intervention.  No internet connection is required, nor do you have to log back into the system at the office or pass on job tickets, notes or send an email to someone.  Boring and unnecessary admin can genuinely become a thing of the past.

So, with this new way of working at our fingertips, what are the other benefits? That question very much depends on the application you choose to use.  Some offer more integration than others and the more your IT systems naturally speak to each other, the more you reduce risk and save time.  Ultimately, by uniting your project team and remotely managing subcontractors, you not only stand to impress your clients but you do it by working more efficiently with lower overheads.  Everyone wins.

Some of the best mobile options are designed to be easy to use with flexible working across Android & Apple devices, with live reporting on snagging and inspections.  No internet or phone signal is required and all the data collected is stored locally and then automatically sent off to your main system once you regain a signal.  There are a handful that offer assured location accuracy by QR code site location markers, as well as onsite mark ups of drawings and the ability to assign actions direct from the field.

Union Square Mobile has the added benefit of a development platform enabling our clients to create their own mobile solutions to allow onsite data capture specific to their particular needs.  Their data is as flexible as they need it to be – all in the palm of their hands.

The stats on mobile working look like this:

85% of small businesses use smartphones to improve productivity for business      related tasks on a regular basis

75% of employees use their smartphone to check emails

34% of businesses use iPad’s, which is four times the number from 2011

50 million tablets were purchased in the past year

37% of people surveyed noted that they were using mobile devices to access      work information more frequently than they did a year ago

Just under 30% of emails are now opened on mobile devices

“Technology has significantly enhanced project information mobility. But there are still many opportunities for the industry to increase productivity through improved project information flow.”  Information Mobility report, McGraw Hill, 2013.

So why join the mobile revolution? The key advantages for most businesses are the reduction of risk, the availability of information on demand and the huge cost saving in managing remotely captured information without further human intervention.

Every day the construction industry is struggling with the vast amount of data and information it is expected to manage and retain. Making mobile data capture part of a centralised information management system that allows people to share knowledge more effectively is one major step on the road to becoming more joined-up and unlocking your business potential.