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App integration in the construction industry is on the rise. As more young people and millennials enter the construction workforce, companies must make a greater effort to both attract and retain this younger generation of workers, and find ways to appeal to their strengths and interests.  Rather than rejecting technology use in the office, in the field and on jobsites, consider utilizing smartphones and its ability to enhance business operations and improve communication. Before considering the adoption of these apps however, it is important to understand the difference between mobile apps and traditional applications, and how the two can coexist and complement one another. When deciding on what particular apps your company should invest in, the guiding factor must be to find ones that integrate with the CRM and ERP your company is currently using.

Back-end ERPs and CRMs are integral to the success of any construction company. Often these large and complex systems are designed for a desktop user interface and control various aspects of the business. Construction businesses invest a great deal of resources in acquiring and implementing technology to support the operations of the entire company.  These types of applications, when compared to a contemporary mobile app, are able to handle a variety of business processes and are able to integrate multiple parts of the business often through a singular system.

Rather than relying upon them for a variety of purposes, mobile apps are typically used to serve a single, or a few functions. Instead of navigating a complex interface on a desktop or laptop, mobile apps allow users to complete tasks quickly and efficiently on their smartphone. Apps are typically simple to use and help to streamline the business, whether through quick communication, sending documents or files, ordering new equipment and a variety of other things. When compared to a traditional CRM or ERP, apps are used for one purpose and are not rarely used in conjunction with other apps. Because their use is so specific and unique, they are often inexpensive and require a small investment.

The growing acceptance of mobile apps can also be looked at as an opportunity to assess how a business operates. The appeal of apps lie in their ability to transform a single process in a significant way. Having an app to control the internal communication of all team members is much more efficient than sending countless emails or playing phone-tag. Furthermore, processes like procurement can be much quicker through apps, compared to face-to-face meetings, and manually tracking down purchase orders. The goal must be to find apps that is integrated with the back-end CRM system, which can allow construction companies and vendors are able to generate quotes on-the-fly and even refer to past purchase history to make the process even easier. In essence, a project manager or site supervisor’s smartphone is now able to track and record data, much better than a paper and pen. Data collection from apps can help companies become more responsive to customers with instant access to any important information.

The best way to begin integrating mobile apps into an existing CRM or ERP is finding one that helps a single part of the business do things more efficiently. Perhaps start by making the transition to a paperless office, and identifying where paper can be replaced.  From here, find other places that can be modernized through technology. Getting in the mindset to advance and improve the business is just as important as the function of the app itself. By analyzing how your business operates, you are already on the the right track to making the right changes to benefit both employees and customers. Rethinking the role of apps is key, and seeing it as an accessory rather than an a complete solution is the first step in improving productivity in various aspects of the business. For more, download our ‘Adoption of Mobile Solutions in the Construction Industry’ white paper.

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