‘ROADTEST- Smart Field Service Software’
You’re in a traffic jam. Your mobile keeps ringing and pinging.
The sat nav has decided you are lost.
You were due at the site to survey 15 minutes ago.
Never mind you have a pen and paper. You think you have a pen and paper????
You are already calculating how much time you have on site before seeing another site – filing reports-answering endless emails and the new joy we all face – the zoom meeting!
We all have days like this.
This where time allocated to task and accurate detail required seem impossible?
We had the same problem and this is how we attempted to solve it.
Time & Detail
The construction industry focuses on detail.
Sometimes a mass of intricate details and measurements or values.
We all do lots of site visits, surveys and data gathering and recording.
The detail needs to be produced and referenced frequently throughout the construction process. The detail needs to be communicated accurately across teams.
What happens when this detail gets lost or is misplaced or misinterpreted?
The construction industry also focuses on time
We all have client deadlines to meet. Everything needs to be done NOW. How long will this take? This is a question we all think about daily.
Perhaps it’s surprising therefore that the construction industry is traditionally a late adopter of technology.
We decided to see if we could streamline and automate our site visits and survey processes.
Our hope is to save time and money and improve communication across teams from office to site and field.
If we succeed, we hope to pass the benefits onto you and your business!
Let’s look at the problems that can occur and how we hope to solve them?
Common Problems In Surveying & Recording Data In The Field
- Lack of preparation – little information from the client- being called to site at a moment’s notice.
- Using random notes on sheets of paper or notebooks or just verbal conversations.
- Non- Standardised methods of collating information – everybody does their own thing.
- Being able to take photographs and annotate them.
- Missing details which means going back at a later date.
- Everything has to be written up in the office – then checked and emailed- Where is this stored? Who is in charge of IT & document management?
- Recording ‘ gaps’ in the client information.
- There are ALWAYS changes in a construction project – how easily can you record & communicate these changes?
- Time Pressure – you have limited time on site.
- Nothing is coordinated- there is information everywhere.
This can apply to many types of survey such as – energy surveys – H&S assessments – risk assessments – fire risk assessments – snagging surveys – M&E surveys the list is endless.
The Dream Solution
We wanted to standardise our surveys so that teams used the same methodology and process to achieve consistent accurate information that can be easily conveyed to all staff.
The more automation we can achieve the better.
The idea was to achieve a leaner more efficient system but flexible enough to adapt to changing client needs and regulations.
A digital solution with no or less paper would be a bonus. The ability to take site photographs, annotate them and add them to design drawings and floor plans a plus!
‘Time is money’ is often true in construction.
The aim was to save time and money but not at the cost of detail and accuracy.
Dream Solution Wish List
- No more non-standardised ways of data gathering.
- Ability to take site photographs- annotate them and add them to drawings & plans.
- Import/export- file share-drop box-email etc.
- Ability to use hand held devices-smart phones-tablets- I pads.
- Record accurate measurements .
- Use information live on site to exchange with office to resolve issues ON SITE.
- Data held can be configurable and used for different purposes.
- Evidence for compliance.
- Evidence for client with ‘selective memory’.
- Avoidance of doubt blame & confusion.
- Evidence for contractual legal wrangle
We created a wish list from the above desires and began scouting for possible solutions.
A few weeks later, after getting in touch with a number of companies we found a software as a service (Saas) company called Proforms in Birmingham.
You can find their website here https://www.pro-forms.co.uk/index.php
The Beauty Of Software As A Service (Saas)- BENEFITS
Prior to this, a company needed to buy in propriety hardware and software, often needing servers for this purpose.
Software as a service allows smaller businesses to streamline and automate systems with none of the cost of the above infrastructure.
It has the following benefits for smaller and medium sized businesses:
- No need to buy expensive hardware.
- Small businesses can compete with larger ones.
- Frequently updated- you do not pay for this.
- Hosted on cloud – no need for servers & web security.
- Pay monthly – menu of options configurable to your business.
- Reports-surveys customized- tailored for you.
Proforms promises all of the above and more.
They can provide software solutions from everything from smart job management to smart asset management mobile forms and online forms to data analytics, integration tools, business intelligence and custom reporting.
You only pay for what you need. This way you do not end up with loads of costly features you may never use.
For example, our initial ‘road test’ is to use their basic product for our Health & Safety services.
Early tests are proving to be very promising.
We aim to give you a ‘warts and all’ report on how this venture pans out in a future edition of our monthly newsletter.
We are already seeing if we can add a similar service for fire risks and energy & sustainability.
So when we are stuck in traffic jam – tight for time and the day is getting worse by the second we hope to share our solution so we can all breathe a little easier.
BONUS! Here is a link to a useful article written by Mr Jon Crofts MD of Proforms on 5 key components for running an efficient field service team.
This has some great advice from someone who deals daily with this subject! https://www.pro-forms.co.uk/blog.php?id=65
Disclaimer Green Hat Consulting has no affiliate links or commercial relationship with Proforms whatsoever. We do not benefit in any shape or form from highlighting their products. Our sole aim is to give you an unbiased review of this service and product.