Architects: How Mobile Tech Can Make Documenting Your Site Visits Easier

Embracing The Power of Mobile Tech: 6 Takeaways from Our Recent Webinar With AIA

As an architect, you have a lot on your plate, from drafting proposals and carrying out design work to conducting inspections and meeting with clients and contractors. The list can feel endless.

As you spend more time between locations, mobile devices can play a huge role in keeping your teams connected, keeping productivity high, and making sure important work can be done quickly and efficiently from anywhere.

In a recent webinar on mobile productivity, hosted by Deltek Product Marketing Director Megan Miller and John Crosby, Managing Director at Corporate Partnerships of the American Institute of Architects (AIA). Here are six key takeaways that can help you get more done while you’re on-the-move.

1. Paper Processes Cost Time and Money

“For an industry that really focuses on and promotes sustainability, we still require a lot of paper to get our jobs done. And if we leave the office, we have to take all of it with us.”

Megan Miller, Product Marketing Director, Deltek

The transition between working in the office and being on site is never an easy one, especially when it comes to trying to ensure you have all the right documents and drawings in the right place at the right time.

In fact, it’s estimated that architects spend an entire day per week searching for the information they need for projects. And getting everything together to prepare for a site visit can often take up to an hour beforehand. When time is money, these paper-based inefficiencies can only go on for so long — especially when sustainability is an increasing concern for firms of all sizes.

According to John Crosby from AIA, all of this translates to one thing: “The need to modernise technology, digitise knowledge, and adopt mobile as a business strategy is one of those next steps in the evolution of practice that we believe is simply going to have to happen.”

“The need to modernise technology, digitise knowledge, and adopt mobile as a business strategy is one of those next steps in the evolution of practice that we believe is simply going to have to happen.”

John Crosby, Managing Director at Corporate Partnerships, AIA

2. Knowing Where to Start Is as Simple as Knowing Where You Struggle

“How do you access documents on site? How do you process information like time, expenses, floor plan annotations, design feedback, measurements, punch list items, etc. while on the road?”

Megan Miller, Product Marketing Director at Deltek

While more technology may seem daunting, it is often because architects and firms don’t know where to start and are comfortable with how tasks get done today. But simple changes can have a tremendous impact.

The key to overcoming uncertainty is to have a clear understanding of your pain points. Where are the greatest inefficiencies in your firm? What tasks take the most time to complete? What’s preventing you from being able to complete a given task wherever you are?

Ask these questions, and you’ll soon have a list of potential processes to tackle with mobility and new, digital capabilities. And there are some quick wins here, too. Mobile tools such as virtual assistants, voice notes, and split-screen functionality can deliver small productivity gains that add up to significant efficiencies each day. Read more about this here.

3. You Can Make Your Time On-Site More Impactful

“Field work is one area where there’s so much wasted time.”

Megan Miller, Product Marketing Director, Deltek

Whether it’s taking and uploading site photos or noting down observations, there are many aspects of field work that can slow down the process of completing field reports, capturing site inspections, and sharing information with contractors, clients, and owners.

For instance, it’s still standard practice for many architects to take pictures on digital cameras, and then upload them to a computer back at the office.

Today, there are mobile apps designed especially for field work that allow you to do all these things more quickly and with less effort. Using an app like ArchiSnapper, you can take photos on your mobile device, instantly annotate those photos, capture notes with voice-to-text capabilities, and access all the drawings and documents you need from anywhere at any time. You can also carry out on-site measurements and conduct 3D scanning with devices equipped with LiDAR technology, like the latest iPhones and iPads.

This enables you to actually finalise and share your reports or punch lists before you even leave a job site. That way, clients and contractors instantly have all the information they need in the format of a structured and detailed field report.

“The process behind field reporting can be very manual and very time consuming,” says Megan Miller. “An app like ArchiSnapper just takes away a lot of that, saving at least 45 minutes per field report. Think of how many reports you do in a week, in a month, in a year. Take that number and multiply it by the number of architects doing that work and you’ll see huge savings.”

4. Not All Design Work Has to Be Done at Your Desk

“We’re looking at ways that you can take the tools and resources that you have and make
it easier to accomplish tasks and be more successful on your projects.”

Megan Miller, Product Marketing Director, Deltek

As well as a wealth of productivity apps, there are also a host of options when it comes to facilitating and reviewing design work in the field. Industry-leading programs like AutoCAD, BIM, and SketchUP all have mobile applications, which means you can review project progress or share with a client to get their feedback or input while you’re in the field or in a client meeting.

Obviously, you’re not going to get into the details of a design on your mobile phone, but when a question comes up from a client or a quick review is needed, with a good-sized tablet and a stylus you’d be amazed by what you can achieve.

5. The Time for Change is Now

“Being chained to a desk is not only becoming passe, it’s becoming a limitation on success and growth. Wise investments in technology can help your teams work smarter and maximise their time on projects.”  

John Crosby, Managing Director at Corporate Partnerships, AIA

With so many digital tools available, it’s possible to give architects the power of being in the office environment wherever they are, and there’s never been a better time to do so.

As leadership changes in firms, the industry needs to also focus on embracing technology changes to better equip firm leaders, support project managers and enable designers to be more efficient and effective in their day-to-day work. Give them the right tools and you will see new efficiencies, faster decision making, greater productivity, and better outcomes for your projects.

This can also be critical in recruiting either tech-savvy seasoned architects or mobile-native entry-level architects to your firm. Eliminate the barriers for technology adoption in your firm so your company is a desired place to work and grow their career.

6. Make Mobility a Competitive Differentiator

“It’s not just about trying to adapt. It’s not just about trying to make your workflow and your processes more seamless. Adopting mobile technology is something that ought to be considered fully in order to have your firm not just survive, but thrive in a moment of transformational change.”

John Crosby, Managing Director at Corporate Partnerships, AIA

There’s no mistaking that the A&E industry is very competitive. So, you’ll be happy to hear that mobile devices can not only boost productivity and efficiency, but also level the playing field or give your firm a competitive advantage.

Mobility isn’t just about trying to adapt and survive, but about finding new ways to thrive and stand apart from the competition. It can transform the experience for everyone, from your clients and partners to your employees and prospective hires. You can save time in almost every area of operations, inspecting sites and creating visual representations with technologies like Augmented Reality, LiDAR, and 3D modelling, and pass all of those savings onto your clients.

As John eloquently put it: “Imagine if you are the first firm in your area that can tell a client, ‘we leverage mobile to be more efficient, to lower our costs, and that ultimately helps you in the long run.’”

There are so many ways mobile working can help improve your day-to-day processes. If you want to learn more about how mobile technology can transform your firm, visit the ArchiSnapper blog.

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