Simplifying Technology for the Field

In the old days, a home project usually consisted of a trip to the lumber yard, the plumbing supply house, the electrical shop, and the local paint store. Each one of these stores had its local favorite because they had the best materials at the right price and certainly the best service. It is no wonder why they got the most business in town. In fact, the owner made it a point to talk with the customers so they knew they would get the service that the bigger shops could not provide. The only trouble with having all the best-in-class material providers is that there were eight different locations to drive to, eight accounts to manage, and overall was stealing time away from the job. This still worked fine until Bernie Marcus and Arthur blank had an idea. They thought, what If we could give a customer all the great materials, service, and pricing in one place instead of eight? Their idea to monopolize the market was not a new one, but a needed one in construction. Now we’ve seen the aftermath of their little idea become a worldwide, one stop shops for all things construction: Home Depot. Now we can spend more time doing the work and less time gathering all the materials.

The “Appageddon”

Technology in construction has been no different. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s various “stores” to purchase technology solutions by department started springing up. Many of them boasted the latest and greatest in technology, service, and support at a fair price, and they were right. But as we brought on all of these great applications,  we accidentally created our own “Appageddon” and highly slowed our project managers production in the field. How many apps do I have to log into to do the same job I was doing before, and all in the name of automation? Forget it! Honestly, the project managers were and are right. On the contrary, the office needs better reporting to make better decisions. We can’t see what we don’t know, that exists on paper in a drawer or a truck somewhere. We were both right. This has been the crux of why technology adoption in the field has been so difficult. So, who is the “Home Depot” of technology? Nearly every ERP system has tried to be, with their “One platform” or “One stop shop” ERP that prides itself on excellent apps for every department bolted on to an even “better” accounting system. Unfortunately, we all know that this just isn’t the case. We often buy the A class ERP system but the add-ons are B and sometimes C class, leaving us to look for other integrated options. And we’re back to square one, Appageddon.

Reducing Your Apps

We are finally seeing solutions that are acting as a wrapper to the existing ERP and offering a no code platform that can provide configurable processes for nearly every department and process. This allows the field to log in to one app instead of the five they are having to today. Frustration decreases, adoption increases and so does production and visibility. The office and the field can both finally get what they want. Enterprise sized companies are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars doing this with an intranet portal that can handle both internal and external processes and portals to all communicate with the ERP. But what do the mid-sized and smaller construction companies do to solve this age-old challenge of Appageddon without breaking the bank? They must find a platform that offers the flexibility and integration that the enterprise solutions do with an easy-to-use user interface. This is where tech in construction is headed, as the industry is weary from fighting the war of Appageddon. Keep your eyes and ears open for solution providers doing this very thing. Below are a few questions you can ask to evaluate if their solution the said solution will drive tech adoption in the field.

  1. Does it integrate with my ERP system as well as other apps, databases and excel lists?
  2. Will it allow me to reduce the number of apps my project managers have to utilize in the field?
  3. Is it mobile capable for any device?
  4. Does it allow in app chat to reduce email and phone calls?
  5. Is the solution truly a no-code platform for ease of use?
  6. Is the price point affordable for the value?
  7. Can they get our company running in a relatively short time window so as not to burden staff production?