In 2015 OE Construction developed and deployed a cloud based daily reporting system for the OE field supervisors. Essentially the project information, including pictures and other important project data, was captured via a tablet, saved in the cloud and emailed to the main office for review and documentation of the job site on a daily basis.
Define the Problem and Find a Solution
This was the first step in providing a quick, easy and consistent method for the OE field supervisors to communicate with the OE Project Managers and others in the company. Fast forward to 2019, OE needed a more robust and more diverse data capture and reporting system, that covered a dozen different requirements and reports from the field to the office.
The first step was for the company stakeholders to define and then evaluate our core data collection and reporting requirements. Sounds easy right, but when you are working with multiple departments, both inside and outside the company, this process quickly becomes bogged down in trying to accommodate everyone’s wish list. First up, you can’t burden the field supervisors and field employees with so much data entry they can’t get their real job done. Instead of focusing on just “what do we (the office) need out of this system”, we made sure that both the field and the office were a part of the process.
As we began to really define the information, reports and end results for everyone in the company, it became apparent we did not have the resources to develop our own custom cloud based system as we had done in the past. Instead, we spent many months evaluating existing cloud based systems that would meet our specific needs. Number one on the list was flexibility, customization and ease of use.
OE chose a system with a company called Assignar Construction Software (www.assignar.com). Once the company had determined that Assignar was a good fit and within our budget, we set about defining and creating the required forms for field reporting and worked on a deployment, testing and training schedule.
Testing and Training
Key to the implementation was involving everyone in the testing and deployment process. When everyone is a part of the process, the deployment will go much smoother and you will achieve a higher rate of adoption by the employees. Next came the testing and training portion, just as important in our opinion. OE developed the training materials and scheduled training time with all of the employees, many times the training taking place in the field (not in the office).
Assignar’s team helped to develop the initial field reporting forms and Assignar was an important part of the design and implementation process. OE was able to deploy our first field application in 30 days, starting with our “beta testing” group of employees. The application was widely accepted and soon everyone wanted access to the application, which is device compliant for phones, tablets, desktops; making the installation of the app quick and easy.
Once the first field app was up and running, we moved ahead with the implementation of 12 additional forms. Some of the forms are for all of the employees use, some are specific to supervisors. We established our behind the scenes process in the office to receive the data on a daily basis and made sure we allowed time for testing, training and implementation for each new process and form
Saving time, Saving money
The end result, in our opinion, was outstanding. The employees were excited and motivated to use the new reporting system across the board. The time savings for both the field and the office has averaged over 20 plus hours per week, a big deal in our industry. When COVID-19 hit this year, the system was even more valuable, we were able to implement a COVID-19 reporting form in a couple of hours and publish for the field the same day.
When implementing new technology in your company, make sure you pay attention to the employees that will actually use the system (don’t design in a box, just for certain departments or managers). Be clear about the goals and objectives for the new technology, whatever the application. Document each process, document the implementation plan, get everyone on board to ensure the successful adoption of the new technology in the company and don’t forget to thoroughly test the system and train everyone involved. Just some thoughts from our experience in the construction industry.