Tapping into Tablets
Walgamuth, Erin, PM Network
PROJECT MANAGERS ARE STREAMLINING PROCESSES BY INTEGRATING TABLET TECHNOLOGY IN UNEXPECTED PLACES.
Many project managers are familiar with new technologies - in plenty of cases, they're a big part of developing them. As such, many embrace tablets as valuable project tools to decrease communication time, minimize risks and streamline their processes from design to inspection.
According to an April survey by Javelin Strategy & Research, tablet adoption is forecasted to grow by at least 40 percent by 2016. Project managers can leverage that boom to integrate tablets into everyday project processes.
It's not as simple as just giving everyone on the team an iPad. "You could add four or five people to a project and give them tablets, telling them to collect electronic data, but that won't necessarily add value to the project," says Will Senner, assistant project manager at construction group Skanska USA in Parsippany, New Jersey, USA.
Here are five ways project managers can successfully incorporate tablets into project processes to deliver results:
1. VIRTUAL PROJECT REPOSITORIES
Sharing, storing, updating and converting different versions of documents, files and budget information among team members can be time-consuming. Using a tablet as a virtual project binder that can share those files with mobile devices and desktops can speed up the process.
"Tablets keep everything updated in the same place, making something that used to take hours take minutes because the information is on hand," says Dave Prior, PMI-ACP, PMP, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA-based president of ProjectWizards Incorporated. "People will have access to a lot more information, making it faster and cheaper to do their jobs."
2. QUALITY CHECKS AND RESOURCE TRACKING
During a project to build the James B. Hunt Library in Raleigh, North Carolina, USA, Mr. Senner and his 15-person team developed a supply-chain and quality-control management system using tablets.
That system proved valuable. Materials such as coverings for a building's exterior walls were "bar-coded, and at each stage of the process - shipping, receiving on site, installation - someone took their tablet to scan the barcode with a Bluetooth barcode scanner," Mr. Senner says. "After that, they can go in and make the quality control checks, document it, and later we can go back to review the checks."
This process not only improves schedule management, but also adds transparency around quality. …