Updates available: Hot apps for contractors

In the construction industry, most of the day-to-day action takes place in the field. So it’s only natural that contractors are eager to find mobile apps for smartphones and tablets that can help them work better.

Developers have responded with a wide range of products designed to suit a variety of job functions. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should rush out and download everything under the sun.

Big picture vs. small

For decades, traditional software companies have worked hard to develop comprehensive, integrated packages for contractors in areas such as project management, financial analysis and reporting, and fleet management. Many of these products have become useful front-office tools; however, they don’t always adapt well to a mobile platform.

For this reason, some of the most useful construction apps focus on specific tasks. When shopping for mobile solutions, think carefully about which aspects of your jobs could benefit from the enhanced data efficiency offered by today’s apps.

3 hot areas

There are many different types of construction apps available at the moment. But three of the hottest areas right now are:

  1. Safety management. These can facilitate jobsite inspections by providing both standard and customizable checklists, as well as audit report templates. Some products can feed information directly into your company’s main database to help you integrate safety data with other project factors. Others facilitate safety training by recommending topics and documenting meetings.

Some safety apps are free; others charge a modest fee for premium services. Various options are available on either the iOS or Android platform. Try the search term “construction safety inspection.”

  1. Tool tracking. Products in this category typically work with bar codes or RFID tags that are affixed to each tool and used to record who has a tool and for which job it’s being used. The solution maintains a record of who’s responsible for the asset at any particular time. It can also track rented tools so you can charge back rental costs to the appropriate project and return the items promptly when the rental period ends.

Again, various products are available on iOS or Android. Try the search terms “tool tracking” or “tool tracker.”

  1. Field management. Does your company need a quick and easy way to handle more comprehensive project management functions using smartphones or tablets? If so, these apps facilitate timely communication between field and office staff. They enable field personnel to keep jobsite diaries, take pictures, report employee and equipment time, and log material quantities used.

These apps may particularly benefit smaller businesses and subcontractors who haven’t invested in a large project management system. Several different apps are on either iOS or Android. Start searching with the term “construction project management.”

Careful shopping

The cost of most construction apps is usually nominal. So it’s generally inexpensive to give one a try. But you’ve still got to be careful about disrupting your operations by implementing an app that your company isn’t ready to use. So shop carefully and proceed with caution.