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Mary Ludloff
By
June 28, 2018

Construction Management: Buy Off-the-Shelf or Build Your Own?

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Digital technology is changing industries and their players. Smartphones and mobile apps have made it easy for companies across verticals to do business in new, more efficient, and customer-friendly ways.

Moving Towards a Digital Environment

But not all industries are advancing at the same pace. Construction, for example, is one of the least digitized sectors in the world.

The construction space has what McKinsey Global Institute describes as “an intractable productivity problem.” Large projects frequently run 20 percent longer than anticipated and go up to 80 percent over budget, the firm reports.

“One reason for the industry’s poor productivity record is that it still relies mainly on paper to manage its processes and deliverables such as blueprints, design drawings, procurement and supply-chain orders, equipment logs, daily progress reports, and punch lists,” McKinsey notes. “Due to the lack of digitization, information sharing is delayed and may not be universal. Owners and contractors therefore often work from different versions of reality.”

That’s a real barrier considering commercial construction industry faces continued labor shortages and involves a growing amount of off-site construction due to greater adoption of modular, prefabricated, and sustainable material solutions, as Construct Connect reports.

Mobile Apps Key to Digitization in Construction Sector

Mobile apps can help busy workers be more productive by allowing them to do away with paper-based processes and instead, access and enter information on their smartphones. That way people at construction offices and sites can get the job done efficiently and effectively wherever they are.

Once you make the decision to go digital, there are a number of off-the-shelf solutions to consider as well as development platforms that enable you to build custom apps.

Buy vs. Build

Let’s look at some key considerations in the build vs. buy decision making process.

Budget

Some businesses hire outside specialists to build their mobile apps. That tends to be quite expensive. It also limits the scope of what organizations can achieve with their mobile apps. Because in the buy scenario, every app iteration or improvement brings added consulting and development costs.

Timing

You’ll also want to consider the time factor in your buy-or-build decision.

Working with outside software developers – or even relying on your organization’s own internal developers and IT staff members – for app development can be a lengthy process. But with the right tools, people without technical backgrounds can create mobile apps quickly and easily. And they can add to and improve their mobile apps as needed.

There’s another key benefit. Individuals who will be using the apps know what they need that software to do. So nothing gets lost in translation during the initial build or planning for future iterations.

Adaptability

Speaking of future iterations, ease of change is another thing to think about in making a buy vs. build determination.

Organizations that buy packaged mobile apps, or engage developers to create them, tend to face a one-and-done scenario. So after the app is purchased, there’s little opportunity to tweak it as new needs arise and innovative ideas take hold.

However, when people build their own apps, they enjoy the benefits of continuous improvement. And they can easily and inexpensively add additional features as needed.

Once you determine your budget, timing, and adaptability criteria, it’s much easier to make the buy or build decision. And if your decision is to build your own, then we hope you will consider AppSheet’s development platform.

Why AppSheet?

Our platform allows people like you to make mobile apps directly from your data – with no coding. Those apps can be up and running on Android and iPhone devices within minutes. AppSheet lets you build app prototypes for free and customized apps at a very low cost. So you can start small and build from there.

Get Started Today

Now is the time for construction companies to adopt mobile apps to improve productivity and safety, and to drive growth.

Whether you are looking to do inventory and material tracking, order taking, project management, safety compliance audits and reports, worker attendance and scheduling, and more—any process can be digitized and automated. Mobile apps allow you and your colleagues to get, record, and share vital information at job sites, in transit, or at the corporate office.

But don’t take our word for it. Learn how KLB Construction made the decision to go mobile, creating a number of apps to manage their employees and job sites using AppSheet’s platform.

Get the KLB Construction Case Study

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