One of the main questions that I receive from interested people is how do I choose that apps that I use for Construction Projects. The program that I have built has evolved from quick word searches through trial and error to a solid committee that researches and beta test apps prior to implementing them across the board. There are 4 key items to an app that a construction company should consider when selecting an app to use on their projects:
The first item to consider in selecting an app should be will you select an app from the Android, IOS or Windows market? Deciding on a platform will dictate the type of hardware you will need to run select. For example, if you choose the Apple platform it is a given that you will need iPads or iPhones to run those apps. However, if you select the Android decide you may run several different devices from analysis to Samsung. The same can be said for the world of Windows.
The second item to consider is whether to choose “Point Solutions” or “Integrated Solutions”? When you starting a Mobile Device Program or revising a current one, you must look at your goals for the app and evaluate these two app types. By this I mean that you must think through…
a. What you are trying to accomplish with the app?
b. How will the app communicate with other apps?
c. Where does the data from the app need to be stored?
A “Point Solution” app generally has a singular function that accomplishes one task. For example: there are several apps that allow users to compile a daily report.
An “Integrated Solution” app has the ability to communicate with other platforms. This allows companies to leverage data collected across multiple apps. For example: let’s talk about project progress photos.
The debate about Point Solutions versus Integrated SolutionS apps is a rather interesting one. On the one hand you can look at it from the perspective of a small company just starting out without a lot of resources. On the other you can look at it from the perspective of a large company that already has a strong mobile program looking to stream line it’s processes. At the end of the day the questions each company must ask are…
– What are you trying to accomplish with apps in the field?
– How much are you willing to spend?
– What results do you want to achieve?
The third item to consider is cost. The main question to ask here is Will your selection cost you money to use it? In the current state of the app markets there are 3 main price points:
I. FREE: These apps have no monetary cost. These apps that will help them make the transition from paper based processes to the new digital app world.
II. PAID: These apps have a one time cost from a store (or Build Your Own with upfront and long term costs).
III. FREEMIUM : These are free apps to download, But a paid monthly or annual subscription is required to actually use the app.
The fourth item to consider is connectivity: will their chosen app require internet connectivity full time or can it run offline? How much internet time do you need a day to sync with a server to upload or download new items? There are 3 connectivity points to consider for construction project sites:
I. Will you use a WIFI or an Cell signal to make the app work?
II. Do you need constant or limited access?
III. Does the app work off line?
In order to have success with Apps on Construction projects I recommend establishing a Technology Committee and use the use 4 points as the criteria for selecting the apps that your will use. The Tech Committee can then build a Mobile Device Program around the apps you are using to accomplish workflows in the field.