Archive for the ‘Mobile Technology’ Category
For those who joined us on April 4th, both customer and partners, we sure had a great time talking tech-y and BYOD all day at the fabulous Doubletree resort in Scottsdale!
A GREAT SUCCESS for CPFS – LAI collected 46 Cell Phones for Soldiers! Each phone valued at $5 translates into 2.5 hours of calling time for our military personnel. That means we collectively donated 115 hours to our troops! Ledgerwood Associates matched each phone donation with a half an hour of FREE consulting time!
Keynote speaker, Joe Granneman, had the audience in a state of highly entertained shock as he shared stories of security gaps in super-powers like Google and Facebook, and how easy it is to crack 7-character passwords in under four seconds (make sure yours is at least 8 characters, and no “dictionary” words)! That information alone may have saved thousands of dollars in potential fraud!!
Our friends Diane Haines and Todd Juhnke from Sage Construction & Real Estate put on an amusing skit (complete with a fake marriage) on the frustrations of timecards between the field and office, and how Sage Construction Anywhere will allow you to watch more football! How many software solutions can claim that?!
After lunch by the pool, attendees split up into two afternoon sessions with a choice of four different tracks. SMEs from Sage, TimberScan, Trapp Online, Piracle, True Wireless, Hard Dollar, and Ledgerwood Associates spent quality time demonstrating integration strategies, hardware, and mobile solutions. CFMA was there too, to answer questions and talk about their great organization (LAI is a member)!
Everyone regrouped for Ed Ledgerwood’s closing remarks, and mingled for the last time during Happy Hour on the patio! Check out pictures of Technology Day on our FB Tech Day album.
Yes, this is our last plug for the annual Technology Day event this week - April 4th, and we are very excited to see everyone! Have you registered yet? If not…
…so you can join us at the beautiful Double Tree Resort in Scottsdale Arizona. Bring your smartphone, tablets and other devices and plug-in to the future of construction technology.
Keynote speaker Joseph Granneman, CIO of Rockford Orthopedic, will kick things off with a presentation focused on information security and compliance.
Representing Sage, our co-hosts, Todd Juhnke, Regional Sales Manager-Construction and Real-Estate Division, and Diane Haines, Sr. Director, Product Management, Construction & Real Estate will be presenting the powerful cloud based construction technology solution – Sage Construction Anywhere.
There will then be afternoon sessions with multiple tracks for learning about specific topics. Head over to the registration page to learn more about all of the Tech Day Tracks.
And make sure you bring your old cell phones too! Ledgerwood Associates will be collecting them for Cell Phones For Soldiers, a non-profit dedicated to helping our troops stay in contact with their families here at home.
Don’t miss out on all of the fun and information this year. We look forward to seeing and talking to you all!
Military families often have difficulty connecting with loved ones while troops are out in the field serving our nation. That is exactly why the non-profit organization, Cell Phones for Soldiers (CPFS), was established. Since 2004, free communication tools have been provided to our service men and women abroad in order to help connect them with their families.
Over the last nine years, this organization has helped to provide 181 million minutes of talk time to our soldiers. They mail about 12,000 calling cards each week, and have recycled nearly 11 million cell phones! What’s more remarkable, is CPFS was founded by Robbie & Brittany Bergquist when they were only 12 & 13 years old, and is still operated almost entirely by the Bergquist family from Massachusetts. At this years annual Technology Day event, Ledgerwood Associates, Inc. will be an official collection center for Cell Phones for Soldiers. Sponsor a heart-felt call yourself by donating a gently used cell phone at the Technology Day event, and LAI will deliver to it Cell Phones for Soldiers.
If for some reason you can’t make it to Tech Day, you can still donate online.
(Test drive iPads and other mobile devices on April 4th at Ledgerwood Associates’ Technology Day, in Scottsdale, AZ).
It’s no surprise that when the Engineering News Record polled its readers last year, Apple’s iPad and iPhone were among the top 10 technology and software products contractors are interested in using most. We talked about that in our blog last March -Contractors Pick Apple iPad, iPhone and iCloud.
With so many contractors interested in using iPads and iPhones, here are five great ways to use mobile technology to expand the capabilities of your construction office in a truck.
1. Record Time and Attendance
“Time,” the IOS or Android App in Sage Construction Anywhere, enables employees and supervisors to:
- Replace paper timesheets with a smartphone or tablet
- Rapidly enter and submit employee time worked on their iPad or iPhone
- Link time-worked to project cost codes
- Review and approve employee hours worked
2. Read Project Documents
“Project Files” in Sage Construction Anywhere makes it easy to access the details you need to make sure the work is done right the first time!
- Access and share project documents on your iPad
- Pull up contracts and files immediately
- Retrieve the most recent version of documents or drawings
3. Check Subcontractor Compliance
Use “Project Reports” in Sage Construction Anywhere, or TimberCloud hosting to access compliance data through your iPad. Take action while the sub is standing right in front of you!
Compliance features in Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate help you to take a more proactive approach towards lien waivers, permits, punch list completion, and insurance.
4. Check Important Details on Photos and Plans
The New iPad’s Retina Display is 2048 x 1536 pixels, more than your HDTV at home! Apple’s iPad 3, Why do I Want One in Construction?
Field-friendly features on the new iPad:
- Photos and plans look much sharper
- Important details are harder to miss
- Zooming in reveals more
- Digital plans can be changed at the site (with iPad blueprint apps)
5. Analyze with Excel (Yes, Excel on your iPad)
With TimberCloud hosting, all of the features of your construction software, and anything else you do on your Windows desktop, are available on your iPad. And, since Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate lets you easily export an inquiry to Excel, you can easily click and copy your inquiry results, including headings, directly to Excel for analysis—on your iPad.
This list is not exhaustive. Innovators and early adopters always find ways to benefit from new technology that were not originally contemplated. 5 Reasons to be the First on the Block
What are some of the ways you use your iPad at the construction site? We’d like to know.
(See the mobile data capture capabilities of Sage Construction Anywhere live and up close at the Ledgerwood Associates Technology Day, April 4th, 2013 in Scottsdale, AZ).
Efficiency Required as the Industry Recovers
At a CFMA luncheon today, three local construction executives said they expect a shortage of qualified labor and supervisors as the industry improves. Contractors are also reluctant to hire additional staff in a more competitive market.
Using technology to improve productivity and reduce costs is an effective strategy to stay lean as your business grows.. By using mobile phones and tablet devices to collect timecard data in the field, your company can realize immediate benefits.
Benefits of automating time recording processes:
1. Increased Efficiency
a) Reduced supervisor and employee time to record hours worked
b) Elimination of lost, damaged, or destroyed time cards or timesheets
c) Faster delivery of data to the back office
d) Less time needed for adjustments and corrections
2. Improved Accuracy
a) Greatly reduced time stealing (over reporting and buddy punching*)
b) Less dependence on memory (weekly time card review, rounding, estimating)
3. Better Oversight
a) Faster corrective action
b) Consistent enforcement of policies and rules
*Note: Robert Half Associates conducts an annual survey of theft of time and estimates that the average worker “steals” four hours and 18 minutes of time–or more than one half day’s pay– per week.
With “Time”, the new mobile data capture capability in Sage Construction Anywhere, employees and supervisors use an iPhone or Android “app” to quickly and easily submit employee time worked on a project and link it to activities performed (cost codes). Submitted time can then be reviewed and approved using the mobile app or online within Sage Construction Anywhere.
Speeding up and tightening the time recording process generates the accurate and complete payroll information needed to spot potential labor issues and profit erosion sooner. Efficiencies gained by automating time collection and approval processes include reduced paperwork, faster payroll, fewer adjustments and corrections, and improved oversight.
(See Time mobile data capture in Sage Construction Anywhere demonstrated at the Ledgerwood Associates Technology Day, April 4th, 2013 in Scottsdale, AZ).
For two years we have seen firsthand the benefits construction companies realize from adopting cloud technologies. Here are five benefits of cloud technology that your company can realize with very little up-front pain and expense.
1. Integration– For decades we’ve been hearing of the benefits of integrated accounting, financial, and operational applications. Efficiency is usually mentioned as the main benefit along with greater project visibility and control. Cloud technologies extend the benefits of integration into the field, home office, airplane, or even onto the beach.
The cross-platform capabilities of the Cloud integrate field operations with the back office and allow everyone to be on the same page regardless of their iPad, Android, Mac or Windows device. New technologies at the cloud server level also facilitate integration with CRM and other applications that go beyond the usual third-party vendor offerings such as TimberScan and Create-A-Check.
2. Efficiency– Cloud technology increases efficiency in all departments of construction and real estate companies. The primary driver of increased efficiency is greatly expanded access. Employees are more productive with faster response times and remote access. More people have access to company data and action can be taken more quickly.
Operational efficiencies, particularly in the IT department result from outsourcing IT infrastructure to the Cloud. Hosting services like TimberCloud reduce the initial investment in IT, total cost of ownership (TCO) and IT headaches. IT staff are freed from countless infrastructure problems, updates and fixes. New applications are implemented more rapidly and at lower cost. IT can more productively use their time on initiatives directly supporting company objectives.
3. Agility – Today’s construction environment demands that companies respond and adapt quickly. Planning for IT requirements 3-5 years in the future can be wasteful and futile as conditions change. Rapid, inexpensive, turnkey application implementation is facilitated by cloud hosting services such as TimberCloud. The speed of implementation and scalability of TimberCloud’s IT infrastructure fit today’s rapidly changing construction industry. Aging, on-site construction applications also get new life in the cloud.
4. Collaboration – Collaboration between internal and external project constituents is made easier with cloud-based technologies like Sage Construction Anywhere and hosting services like TimberCloud. New field applications to manage projects and personnel link on-site management to owners, vendors, architects and subcontractors, as well as HR and accounting departments. Hosting existing applications promotes collaboration with anytime, anywhere access for single and multi-site operations.
5. Security– Recently, a design-build company owner ran into his burning building to rescue his server. Emerging from the building unhurt with the company’s data in hand, his rescue mission ultimately failed when his IT manager later scrubbed the server and took the tapes.
The fact is that data is more secure and access is more reliable in the cloud than on-site. Controlled physical and virtual access, disaster recovery, redundant backups and 99.5% up-time mean there is no safer place to park your company’s critical data and to safeguard its future.
Ledgerwood Associates is an industry leader in cloud technology for the construction industry. For more information about our game-changing cloud technologies and consulting services please contact us.
Adapted from “Cloud Computing and the Construction Industry” by Sage Construction and Real Estate Solutions
The construction industry balances back office functions—billing, paying invoices, running financial reports, payroll, planning logistics—with the physical presence needed on the job site or in a client’s office. Today’s technological solutions must be able to serve users in both work settings.
As a result, making mission critical business applications available remotely is a hot topic these days. Remote access allows staff to work from any location without being tied to a specific physical location.
With the amount of consolidation, decentralization of offices, travel-based positions, and project work being done in different regions of the country or even internationally, being able to offer solid remote access technology to employees is critical for a construction company’s success. For many companies, solving this challenge means moving some of its applications to the cloud.
Collaboration between contractors, owners/clients
As a recent Constructech IT survey notes, “today’s construction professional also needs to be highly collaborative. The word ‘team’ has taken on a whole new meaning in the construction industry. Every team needs to obtain a high level of transparency and accountability for the property owner. Overall, construction companies will be more collaborative, using technology to connect all project team members- from subs to general contractors to owners- in one central location.”
Yet, it is highly unlikely that each of the project team members utilizes the same back office business management applications. So, as general contractors, subcontractors and owners individually look to the web to leverage its capabilities, it will be critical to look at ways that technology can ensure the secure and timely exchange of project information between them.
As noted in the survey, contractors will then take project information “out to the jobsite with mobile devices as well as applying a host of applications on these mobile devices.” As the survey reports, construction companies are reporting from the field as well as “carrying out project management, scheduling, punchlists, and time tracking tasks in the field today.”
This is evidenced by the growing momentum in the use of mobile technologies in the construction industry. Given the advances in and adoption of tablets such as Apple’s iPad, strong growth is anticipated in the use of these devices.
Given the fast moving area of mobility, today’s business management solutions need to support the highly mobile workforce of the construction industry today and into the future.
Does that mean that your construction company needs to scrap everything it’s using today for new cloud-based applications? In today’s economy, many companies are looking more towards extending the applications that they are using today into the cloud where it makes the most sense.
For a number of years Sage has provided field reporting, time tracking, and other web-based or mobile services through extensions to its Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate (formerly Sage Timberline Office) and Sage 100 Contractor (formerly Sage Master Builder) products.
With the release of Sage Construction Anywhere in 2012, Sage has further extended its cloud-based offering with web-based tools to help construction companies better manage their projects, communicate between team members and vendors, and deliver information whenever and wherever it’s needed—in the office, on the jobsite, at a client’s office.
With web-based tools for time capture, project management and service management, Sage Construction Anywhere delivers a comprehensive cloud –based solution to address the evolving construction management needs of customers. This new cloud-based offering is available now to the more than 20,000 construction and real estate companies who are using Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate today.
In the near future these tools will be available to Sage 100 Contractor users as well as those utilizing a non-Sage back-office business application but needing the operations management tools that construction companies need to meet today’s industry demands.
You have repeatedly told us in surveys of Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate users, (formerly Sage Timberline Office), that receiving timely and accurate time and attendance information from the field is a problem. This significant addition to the product should be well received.
The remote time entry capabilities in Sage Construction Anywhere will be rolled out in two phases with the first phase coming in January, 2013 and Phase Two to follow 3-4 months later.
Phase one will include a remote time entry app that facilitates both employee and job-centric entry of payroll data. Here are the details of both methods:
Employees enter their own time
- Automatic project recognition
- Displays only employee’s cost codes
- Supervisor or payroll manager review
- Data sent to the Payroll module
- Time sheets stored in Sage Construction Anywhere
- Employee access through a future employee portal
Job-centric data entry
- can enter a group of employees
- Project Manager reviews and submits to Sage 300 CRE
The above capabilities will be accessible from a smartphone or tablet but the app will actually be a browser wrapper that requires an active Internet connection (Wi-Fi or 3g/4g).
- Project Manager review
- Expense Tracking
- Equipment Time Tracking
- Productivity or Production Units
- Percentage Complete
If you can’t wait until January, we were told that companies could sign up for the Beta version and get three months free!
This is all great news for Sage 300 CRE users who have been waiting patiently for more cloud-based construction accounting capabilities. What’s coming further down the road? Pricing and forecasting were mentioned, but Sage is still gathering input. It may be a while (later next year?) before we see them.
Not familiar with Sage Construction Anywhere? Check out these posts:
For additional information on this and other topics contact Ledgerwood Associates.
The pace of Cloud adoption in the construction industry is accelerating. A 2012 survey found that 24% of construction companies planned some sort of cloud implementation this year. Indeed, we have seen a rapid increase in the number of companies implementing hosting for Timberline, or Sage 300 CRE, Sage 100 and other construction software on TimberCloud.
About one year ago, in a previous blog post on cloud computing, I talked about some of the commonly cited reasons to move to a hosted environment:
- Reduced investment – Someone else buys the servers
- Reduced IT costs – All you pay is a low monthly fee
- Reduced headaches – Someone else, the data center, does the backups and fixes problems
- Improved data security – It’s all encrypted and locked up
These are compelling reasons but, it gets better. We’ve been telling people that going on TimberCloud doesn’t change the way they work since applications look and operate just like before. Actually it does; it enhances the way they work, in at least two significant ways:
- Faster response times
- Vastly expanded access
Yes, you heard it here. Many TimberCloud hosting customers have seen response times improve from what they experienced on their own servers. That’s due to a couple of factors. First, the TimberCloud servers are up-to-date and very fast. Second, processing is more efficient than with the typical client-server setup. Occasionally, local bandwidth is a limiting factor but that can be corrected in most cases.
Secure access to your applications and data from anywhere with an Internet connection has always been a selling point for hosting, (if it’s done the right way). But the scope of remote access is continually expanding as more Internet-capable devices are used and as people think of more ways to use that access.
The “Freedom of the Cloud” is not just a metaphor. Use Timberline on a MAC? No problem. Run month-end reports from your iPad? Piece-of-cake. Check outstanding invoices on your new Microsoft Surface tablet? Let’s find out.
Hosting Timberline on TimberCloud helps you leverage the new technology to make you and your employees more productive. And there’s a great side benefit; it strengthens the argument for buying the latest device. Just tell your spouse, “Hey, I need it for work!”
Attend a TimberCloud webinar.
For more information on this and other topics contact Ledgerwood Associates.
The other day I read an online article about how tablets would transform the construction industry. Dozens of people commented but I was surprised to find that most of the comments were negative: “Buildings are built in the real world of trucks and concrete, not on a tablet.” about summarizes the naysayers.
Because the construction industry is fragmented and tries hard to minimize costs and risks, it is slow to adopt technology. BIM, Six Sigma and Lean Production are decades old technologies that are still considered new by many in construction.
The industry needs more “early adopters”, those brave souls who pave the way for the rest of us and speed up the process by being among the first to implement a new technology. “But, why would I want to stick my neck out and be the first on the block?” you say. “Early adopters usually pay more and have to endure early glitches with the initial versions of the product.”
It’s true that early adopters suffer more glitches and are more apt to take risks, but they often profit handsomely from them. Let’s look a little closer at why they are, by definition, willing guinea pigs. Here some significant benefits early adopters enjoy that are not available to the majority who “wait and see”.
- Early adopters get more attention from vendors. Because vendors need early adopters to provide input to adapt their products to the real world, they often give personalized service and address early customer’s needs quickly and directly. In my own software business, I spent weeks on-site with early customers refining the application to meet their specific needs.
- Early adopters often enjoy a competitive advantage resulting from new efficiencies. One of my early customers said emphatically, “I don’t want my competitors to get this!” The system he implemented tripled the productivity of his front line employees. Laggards, the companies who are last to adopt an innovation, are usually forced to do it just to keep up with the companies who previously adopted it.
- Sometimes an earl adopter’s vision and patience pay off when they find ways to benefit from the new technology that others overlook. I wrote a case study about a Window Vista user who said (and I am not making this up), “Implementing Windows Vista in my company was the best business decision I ever made!” Imagine that.
- Early adopters can also benefit from a marketing advantage. By presenting their company as progressive and efficient with the latest technology, they can win business over larger more established firms lacking the innovation. New collaboration tools can also make it easier, and hence, more attractive for someone to do business with your company.
- Sometimes it’s just cool to have the latest iPad or software. Like having a cool truck, some people really enjoy getting the newest gadget and showing it off.
Technology is advancing at an increasing rate. The construction industry could benefit by speeding up adoption. There are plenty of opportunities out there to be early adopters with iPads, tablets, cloud software and other innovations. Companies like Sage Construction and Real Estate offer improved jobsite functionality, new collaboration tools, and greater access to information with products like Sage Construction Anywhere. Being the first on the block can bring substantial benefits if you can work through the glitches. If you don’t want to be the first, just don’t be the last.