Using the SharePlus app, Consigli Construction employees can fully utilize SharePoint when working with an iPad in the office or at a remote job site.
By William Atkinson
Consigli Construction is a general contractor and construction management company, with clients throughout New England and New York. Each of its job sites hosts a task force composed of various Consigli construction experts, plus external people, including a job owner, architect, and other building professionals. When the number of simultaneous projects and the amount of information sharing required for each project is taken into account, it is easy to see how the risks for information accountability and sharing increase exponentially.
To address these data challenges, Consigli Construction, based in Milford, Mass., implemented SharePoint, Microsoft's collaboration software, as a way to manage the paper trail of contracts, blueprints, site maps, project e-mails and other information.
Consigli management soon discovered, however, that while users could easily access and use SharePoint from their desktops and laptops, accessing SharePoint from iPads in the field had its limitations. "We found that one reason people in the field weren't collaborating enough with our internal staff was the limited opportunities and time to e-mail back and forth with each other," says CIO Anthony Chiaradonna.
Consigli needs consistent, accurate and complete communication and documentation at every stage of a project. It wanted an application that would provide field people with a SharePoint user experience similar to one that they got with desktops and laptops. It also wanted a product that would function when access to wireless networks was spotty, as is often the case at remote job sites. The app would also need to be user friendly, with an intuitive interface, in order to reduce the need for extensive training.
Consigli selected SharePlus from Infragistics. A mobile app that works in tandem with SharePoint, SharePlus allows Consigli to efficiently manage paper trails from multiple job sites. In fact, Infragistics specifically configured SharePlus to address Consigli's business needs, providing the company with a custom-designed tool that enables users to access SharePoint and store, sync and share documentation remotely.
Consigli set up a SharePoint project portal at every construction site, which enabled users from any location—whether an office, a different site or a rental car—to access all of the project’s documentation. "SharePoint is where we keep the files,” says Chiaradonna, “and SharePlus is how we access them."
The SharePlus rollout began in the C-Suite, then expanded to the project managers, and to other internal departments, and was completed by September 2012.
"SharePlus helps us leverage the SharePoint technology that we had already invested in," says Chiaradonna. "It allows us to share documents, especially when people are not in areas of good signal." Workers in the field, for example, can take photos of job sites, then enter them into the SharePoint environment for evaluation at headquarters. They can also access site designs and make annotations based on new information or urgent client requests.
One of the most important benefits, according to Chiaradonna, is "liberation from e-mail jail." No longer do employees have to e-mail documents and project drawings to colleagues and clients, a practice that not only compromised security, but also inevitably involved workers forgetting to attach certain documents.
"Overall, everyone has become a lot more efficient, because they can do their work while walking around with their iPads, rather than having to wait to get to their desktops or laptops," says Chiaradonna. An additional benefit is that workers are collaborating more. "When documents are added via SharePoint, everyone has access to them right away," he says.
With the success and benefits of SharePlus in place, Consigli has expanded availability of the app to its external partners, including job owners, architects and inspectors, providing each user with a SharePlus license and an enterprise-issued iPad. After all, what’s good for Consigli’s partners is also good for Consigli Construction.
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