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CIO meets mobile challenges head-on

Tom Kaneshige | July 8, 2014
In some ways, veteran CIO Sam Lamonica is an old dog learning new tricks.

Rosendin Electric employees were using these homegrown iPad apps for a few months when the company put in a bid to work on a high-profile construction project. The customer -- a well-known tech company -- required all contractors to use apps connecting to BIM 360 Field. Rosendin Electric was probably one of the few competing contractors that could claim such compliance.

"That was dumb luck," Lamonica says. "If we didn't have these apps, we would have had to hustle to develop them."

The third iOS app is a customized version of AboutTime, which tracks hours and pay rates of hundreds of workers over multiple job sites. In the construction business, it's a little more complicated than clocking in and out. A worker might be asked throughout the day to take on various tasks with different pay rates.

The general foreman would typically spend a few hours over the weekend trying to remember who did what throughout the day, in order to record those hours on a time sheet. Now time and pay rate tracking happens instantaneously on the site over an iPad or iPhone.

The time-tracking app also has a neat side benefit: Rosendin Electric can dig into the data to find out how many man-hours it takes to complete a project or build a pre-fabricated piece of equipment.

There's no question these apps have proven to be beneficial to the business, even firing up the IT team. Mobility is on the frontier of technology, and techies love to be working on the newest thing. Rosendin Electric's IT workers take a more proactive approach to mobility problems and offer up mobile app development suggestions at a rate far beyond those concerning ERP, says Anand Tamboli, senior director of business applications at Rosendin Electric.

Mobile Apps Rear Their Rogue Head

Nevertheless, Lamonica has had his share of challenges adapting to a mobile world -- namely, rogue apps.

Rosendin Electric's foremen wanted an iPad app to mark up plans and drawings at a job site. For example, if a foreman saw that drywall wasn't up yet, thus throwing the project behind schedule, he could call up the visual project plan via an app, draw a red circle around the area where the drywall should be, write "WTF?" and send it to the drywall team in 10 seconds.

Lamonica had a tool from Autodesk that would do the trick. There was just one problem: Some 200 Rosendin Electric workers were already using an off-the-shelf app from the App Store. Project layouts and updates were being stored and isolated in the rogue app's cloud service. A CAD designer had to hand-paddle the data from the rogue app into the Autodesk system, in order to make sure everything was in sync.

 

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