Mobile technology has revolutionised almost every aspect of our lives, from social networking to checking emails, and everything in between. In construction especially, the vast majority of workers have made using a smartphone an essential part of their workday, which goes way beyond the need to just having one to be available.
You can find part 1 of the mobile series, 'The need for mobile in AEC' here.
The current mobile landscape
How we use our devices has changed over the last few years. They’re now used to run meetings and share information, and as a result, they’ve become far more valuable than the historical contractor’s black book, intray, and diary combined.
For leaders, Information being captured and held on a mobile device is probably considered of greater importance than a traditional desktop. The information linked to devices now includes financial data like expenses, message exchanges which can often be brought up in a court of law, project site photos to be shared with the wider team, and emails on projects relating to acknowledgements and agreements which carry the same liability as any other email.
What does this mean for how we work?
Our work style now is one constant flow of information regardless of where you are or what device you’re using. Businesses have taken steps to ensure when you’re in the office and using your laptop any information you send or receive can be captured, shared with your team, and retrieved at a later date.
For most companies, they’ve embraced the cloud via email hosting. However, their Information Management generally consists of:
- Filing important project information to a server that sits on-premise
- Utilising Microsoft 365 for Teams and OneDrive personal storage
- High volume of information resides in inboxes
- Large files are transmitted via an FTP or Dropbox type solution
- Client mandated systems for deliverables transmission
- Accounting/ERP platforms generally being hosted in the cloud
What does this mean for construction firms?
Utilising cloud technology is critical and has lots of benefits but for businesses in Construction, using a file server to store project documents remains due to the large size of files.
There’s an obvious gap between project information sitting on a server, and your emails. And, this gap gets wider from a mobile, as it isn’t possible to file emails from your mobile to a project file.
This means we’re going to rely on someone remembering what they’ve said and who they’ve said it to, as well as how to locate the email. We've seen this become an issue for companies in circumstances like:
- Staff not realising how important an email is until they need to find it. Simply responding to something with ‘thanks’ feels like nothing at the time but in a dispute over whether something has been sent it has taken a greater meaning.
- Requests for additional work or requests which are out of scope will always be in email, and never filed.
- Most of a director’s correspondence with a client will be exchanged via email on mobile devices.
What can you do to modernise your Information Management strategy for mobiles?
The thought of changing Information Management systems and procedures for any company can rightfully give you a sense of dread. How much work is it going to take? How are you going to get your staff onboard? Here are five simple steps we recommend to our customers:
- Mandate company apps such as Outlook, SharePoint, and Teams, rather than everyone using Apple/Android mail.
- Provide staff with the ability to find any information on a project via a mobile
- Review the information which has been left in staff inboxes at the end of every project stage
- Search for ‘sent via mobile device’ in your unfiled areas
- Apply the same security concerns to your staff working from a mobile device as you would from a laptop.
Want to take control of your email management strategy from your mobile? See our Mail Manager 365 mobile application in action here.