Based on a 2015 research survey by the author, the purpose of this paper is to evaluate a group of tablet- and smartphone-based software in order to recommend which one (or two) best matches the requirements for building construction field quality management. The secondary purpose of this paper is to identify which usage criteria best represent the needs of designers and builders. A tertiary but equally important purpose is to identify best means for knowledge transfer to up to 100 project teams per year.
Using a previously developed in-house questionnaire comprising 34 evaluation criteria, the author identified and evaluated eight currently available field quality management software being used by project teams in several different branches of the author’s building construction company. Evaluation involved face-to-face meetings with each of the 11 project teams using a standard questionnaire. Software vendors were also interviewed. Each comment made during interviews was captured and the results were communicated back to the team members for review – there were several comments and clarifications received in this manner. Questionnaires were evaluated, findings and recommendations drafted and circulated to senior management for review.
Out of the original 34 evaluation criteria, there emerged 12 field-derived evaluation criteria; an additional five arose from the site office, for a total of 17 out of the original 34. While site office-based personnel were comfortable with tablet-based software solutions, field staff such as superintendents favored smartphone-based solutions. Where field staff were required to use tablets for field quality management, they insisted on being accompanied by junior project management staff to act as scribes – all agreed this was inefficient.
The eight software products selected for evaluation were limited to those already in use in the company; in one case a product was evaluated due to strong recommendations from staff based on hearsay. There are many more field quality management software and the field is changing rapidly, however the author believes the findings are of value in analyzing any current or future offering.
The ideal building construction field staff member should be equipped with a tablet used periodically during the workday to access the most up-to-date project documents. But the same individual should use a smartphone for the large majority of quality management observations, such as identifying and tracking to resolution deficiencies and non-conformances. Details of this mix and usage have not been previously identified.
In addition to evaluating a variety of field quality management software and identifying selection criteria, the paper identifies a practical implementation protocol that will maximize the likelihood of successful implementation.
Change in a construction company requires extensive consultation, especially change in the field. During the course of the research for this report, meaningful content was received from the many company staff in branches actively researching field quality management software.
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