Construction firm owners are beginning to truly understand the benefits of using smartphone and tablet devices for work. One benefit that is often overlooked however is using mobile devices to reduce reliance on paper forms and manual processes.
The average cost of paper per employee is $80. It takes an average of 18 minutes to find a paper document, and a whopping 70 percent of businesses would fail in three weeks if they had a catastrophic loss of paper due to a fire or flood. Paper forms decrease worker productivity, increase risk/liability, and decrease operational efficiency.
Mobile business apps are more accessible to businesses than ever. Custom app development is less expensive and time consuming than in the past, thanks in part to the cloud and high quality app builder tools. Now, even small firms can afford to construct and implement mobile apps into their business.
Many businesses (especially small to mid-sized firms) are still using paper processes and Excel spreadsheets when they could be using more efficient mobile applications. Here are some processes in the construction industry that can make an easy conversion to mobile.
Paper forms can produce several vulnerabilities and inefficiencies for site inspections. One problem with using paper forms for site inspections is that workers could report inspecting a site they never visited. Another problem with paper forms is that works sometimes write the same information repeatedly, using expensive carbon copies. These carbon copies are: hard to read, can be easily misplaced, and are limited to text-only data.
Switching to a mobile app for site inspections will greatly improve efficiency. An app can collect the same information in a fraction of the time that paper requires. With an app, you can use drop-down lists and you can pre-populate information like location or equipment types from your database. Many mobile devices have voice-to-text features so workers can speak into the device to easily record notes.
Using mobile apps for site inspections is not only efficient but apps also reduce errors. Handwriting on paper forms can easily be unclear or misread while apps provide clear text. In addition, apps have checkboxes and many different types of value fields to ensure users get the type of answer you want. These features also force employees to provide better descriptions.
Site Safety and Compliance Reporting
Using paper forms and manual processes for safety inspections can increase your firm’s liability risks and cost hundreds of hours of employee time tracking site safety rather than actually ensuring it. With paper, it is harder to verify if a safety inspection occurred at the appropriate time and place. If a safety issue arises, it could take days to get the information to the right person, thus greatly increasing the chances of accidents and injuries.
Mobile apps create a standardized process for collecting important data. With these apps, you can make certain fields required so that an inspection cannot be submitted until required sections are complete.
Mobile provides additional information to protect and validate inspections that paper form cannot. Automatic date and time stamps can prove when an inspection took place. GPS features will prove that a safety and compliance inspection occurred in the proper location. Apps also allow users to take photos to provide additional visual information to back up an inspection. A final feature that apps provide is that they can collect digital signatures. Instead of collecting and filing multiple rounds of paper inspection form signatures, digital signatures can be collected directly on a mobile device using the user’s finger or by using a stylus.
Field workers are the lifeblood of many construction firms. The ability to track how many jobs each employee does in a week is critical to creating and maintaining a profitable business. Tracking work being done can be cumbersome and time consuming using paper work orders. Paper work orders can be hard to read, inconsistently returned to the office, lost or damaged and difficult to get in real time. Many take shortcuts and fields are sometimes not filled in fully or correctly, and pricing is entered or calculated incorrectly.
Mobile work orders create a system that is reliable, accurate and accessible in real time. Unlike paper forms, mobile apps provide flexibility and customization. Apps allow firms to customize work order form fields to include specific customer requirements and pre-populate pricing for equipment and parts. Once this information is collected in the mobile form, it is transmitted immediately via the cloud.
Businesses with mobile workforces often struggle to see in real time what workers are doing on a daily and hourly basis, where they are at any given point in time, and if they are being as productive as they could be. Many businesses currently rely on traditional time cards. These time cards present challenges however, such as they don’t provide real time data and they can be inaccurate.
Cloud-based mobile apps provide greater visibility into workforce productivity than traditional time cards ever can. By creating a time card mobile app, businesses can have the time automatically entered to ensure accuracy, and that information can be sent in real time via the cloud to the office. Managers will be able to know where each worker is at all times and know what they are doing. Using time card apps allows your business to spend less time tracking employees and spend more time on enhancing their actual work performance, thus increasing profits.
As a business owner or manger, it is important to get the money the business has earned as efficiently as possible. In many businesses, workers are still carrying around piles of forms that are critical for ensuring customers are invoiced in an accurate and timely manner.
Many workers push off paperwork and save it until the last minute because it’s the last thing that they want to do. It can sometimes take several hours or even days before these employees file the paperwork, enter the information into the system, and then have accounts receivable invoice the customer. This greatly extends an already lengthy process and introduces multiple opportunities for backlog, errors and miscommunication. This not only hurts your company but can also anger your customers.
Cloud-enabled mobile apps allow invoices to be generated in real time. Invoices can be sent directly from the field worker’s mobile device to the billing via the cloud. This enables your business to receive customer payments much sooner than with a paper-based invoice system. The use of a mobile app also ensures that the customer will be less likely to receive late or inaccurate invoices.
Start-up and closeout checklists are essential to project-based work. A checklist app can include photos of the completed job, and signatures from the client’s on-site representatives. With a customized PDF, you can send findings immediately after a mobile form submission. There, you can integrate the information into your own systems quickly, so that clients receive the checklists faster, and get an easy format to store in their own database for future use.
Cloud mobile business app solutions are easier to use and are more powerful than ever. Using apps will increase your firm’s productivity and greatly reduce costs compared to using traditional paper forms. Don’t keep getting buried with paperwork and go mobile today!