Construction Apps Increasing in Popularity

Published On
Jan 21, 2021

Perhaps not surprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred the adoption of mobile apps on construction job sites, but integration and data sharing with other apps or other company software is still lagging, according to the 2020 JBKnowledge ConTech Report.

The majority (92%) of construction industry workers now use a smartphone daily on the job, and one in five workers use six or more construction apps in the field, the survey found. Mobile devices are used for viewing project documents (78%), service dispatch and billing (74%), creating project documentation such as RFIs and emails (71%), entering time for payroll (71%), viewing BIM models (65%) and viewing installation drawings (63%).

However, 27% of the survey respondents said that none of their apps integrate data, and 34% say three or fewer apps integrate. As such, half must manually transfer data¾44% use spreadsheets, CSV (37%), custom built integration (29%), email (16%) or XML (5%).

“ConTech influencers are rather candid in explaining how manual entry and spreadsheets are the antithesis of innovation,” the report noted. “Perhaps this notion isn’t widely known yet, or people are unbothered by the redundancies caused by manual entry and spreadsheets. The time has come for smarter solutions, and placing integrations among the most critical features for app and software solutions.”

Other key findings of the survey include:

  • The top mobile apps for daily reporting were nearly identical to prior years with Procore, Bluebeam (Revu) and PlanGrid returning in the top three positions. All three showed increased usage in 2020 from 2019 (18.6%, 14.4% and 9.5%, respectively). Procore gained nearly a 19% increase in reported users over the last year.
  • Nearly half (45%) of project management workflows are still dependent on spreadsheets, including estimating (62%), accounting/ERP (51%), bid management (36%), takeoff (27%), project scheduling (27%), tracking data/performance metrics (26%), field data collection (14%), project management (45%), client relationship management (11%) and CAD/BIM (6%).
  • Dedicated software for estimating, project management, takeoff and bid management saw growth in 2020. “While the changes aren’t staggering, the small conversions from spreadsheet to software should not be overlooked,” the report stated. “Whether it’s a better understanding of how to use software or respondents finally appreciating the ROI of software¾the needle is moving forward.”
  • Nearly a third (29%) of the respondents do not bid on projects involving BIM, while 12% outsource a portion of their BIM and 13% outsource BIM entirely. Companies are using BIM mainly for coordination/clash detection (61%), visualization (53%), project planning (48%) and virtual mock-ups (37%).
  • Hardware technology respondents are using include robotic total stations (45%); 3D scanners (43%); HoloLens, XOi or augmented reality devices (14%); virtual reality goggles (4%); RFID or other tracking devices (6%); and TigerStop (27%).
  • About a quarter (24%) of respondents used off-site construction more often in 2020 than they did before due to restrictions regarding the pandemic. Overall, 40% of those using pre-fabrication say that it’s giving their company a strategic advantage.
  • 13% of respondents experienced a data security breach in 2020, and less than 10% are not using any data security solutions. Two-factor authentication, training and mobile device management are being implemented by more than half of all respondents.

“It was disappointing to see simple yet invaluable solutions like cyber liability insurance coverage, cloud liability insurance coverage and cross-platform authentication under-utilized,” the report’s authors said.

About the Author

Katie Kuehner-Hebert

Katie Kuehner-Hebert has more than three decades of experience writing about the construction industry, and her articles have been featured in the Associated General Contractor’s Constructor magazine, the American Fence Association’s Fencepost, the...

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