ACCESS IS AMONG the most popular buzzwords bantered about in construction lately. Accumulating project information in a reliable and orderly fashion and being able to quickly access and communicate it to others is a goal of many project management software solutions.
SAM Pro Enterprise software Version 6.1 (Data-Basics, 216/663-5600, www.databasics.com) suitable for service, construction and facilities maintenance firms, includes several proactive field service and dispatch components that enable personnel to manage daily operations, and communicate and respond to a broad range of field service activities. End-to-end integration extends from its Windows back office suite to its Internet-enabled and wireless applications.
By selecting from among 18 different components addressing field service management, finance and accounting, customer relations management, and sales and procurement, users can put together an integrated solution that provides several degrees of automation and access from the office and from the field. Data entered once through the back office modules, Web/wireless applications or interactive voice response systems are immediately available system-wide. The software helps contractors to manage daily operations, automatically schedule and execute reporting and notification agendas, and communicate securely via the Web with field personnel, customers, other contractors and suppliers.
The TechAnywhere wireless technician module, which can be run on CE or Windows devices, communicates pending work orders and updated work order status from anywhere, field or office. The module, which supports notification by e-mail, fax or page, includes the ability to create an estimate and to add labor, material and inventory to work orders at any time. The module has the ability to store data if the wireless connection drops out, and then re-attempt transmission as soon as the connection is re-established.
The interactive voice response component enables integration of telephone communications with the field and other system components to capture and communicate real-time field service data and sales leads. It can also be used to update work order status, reschedule work orders, and update the dispatch board and the customer Web interface in real time.
Field service and dispatch software capabilities include automatic scheduling and secure communications via the Web with field techs, customers, other contractors and suppliers. Office-based personnel can account for and respond to service-related activities in real time.
The PM Master Scheduler can generate schedules and advance billing for up to 1,000 locations for a national client and includes the ability to make global changes to service tasks and parts lists.
What really makes the software work system-wide are two components at the core of SAM Pro Enterprise: Escalation Manager and ReportAnywhere. When used in tandem, they automate workflow and report generation to instantly send information via e-mail or fax to anywhere it is needed.
PM software just for subs
Software that helps a subcontractor maintain a running log that documents field conditions and delays can improve communication and minimize disputes such as he-said/she-said arguments over billing, change order authorizations and time extensions.
TRACKpoint project management software (www.esubinc.com, 858/536-5755) enables easy tracking of real-time status of all projects and allows for instant collaboration between personnel in the field and in the office. An application service provider solution residing on a hosted site, the program is geared specifically to the needs of subcontractors, especially those who have jobs all over town and who are working as part of a team with a general contractor and other subs.
By design, the solution standardizes project management to enable all parties to collaborate in the same database and access real-time information from any location through the Internet remotely from any Web-enabled computer, laptop, Blackberry or Palm device.
The developer, a former construction claims lawyer, has built into the solution a number of ways for a subcontractor to accumulate documentation that can be used to apprise an owner or a general contractor of job progress, problems and field conditions that can interfere with work progression, and, possibly, protect the user against disputes over change orders, time extensions and chain of responsibility.
Input forms include daily reports, RFIs, change orders, transmittals/submittals, purchase orders, pay applications and time cards. A timecard module allows field personnel to enter timecards from any location and the module has the ability to integrate with most accounting systems for payroll and job costing.
Users can upload documents and project, product or “changed conditions” photos for instant access or permanent storage, and contractors can enter an electronic signature into TRACKpoint for use on documents by scanning it in and e-mailing it to eSUB.
The program includes nine reports including project timeline, daily activity summary and labor summary. Users can e-mail directly from the program.
At the end of each project, eSUB automatically archives all project information and also offers an optional fully searchable CD with all the compiled data.
William and Patti Feldman provide Web content for companies and write for magazines, trade associations, building product manufacturers and other companies on a broad range of topics. They can be reached at [email protected].