IT managers are asked to do more, with less. Rapid app development platforms make it possible. Today’s workers expect mobile tools and roaming access to corporate networks as they go about their business. Similarly, customers (and sometimes even suppliers) expect communication and reporting on their terms.
Leading civil contracting firm Fulton Hogan has hundreds of jobs on the go across Australasia. Their engineers, technicians, project managers and subcontractors work on roads, buildings, airports, bridges, and wastewater treatment plants – critical infrastructure that keeps cities and countries moving. This kind of work puts their employees and subcontractors in many locations, and sometimes hundreds of kilometres from the office.
Chris Nugent, Fulton Hogan’s Service Delivery Manager in Australia, and his team got down to work with Salesforce. In two weeks they built working models, and from that point it’s been full steam ahead.
“We had so many spreadsheets and small problems to solve…They’re hard to solve with ERP, which in some cases is a slow and expensive development platform. My experience with Salesforce shows that we can build apps quickly and cheaply compared to other systems – at least twice as fast and at half the cost. We turn around complex projects in weeks rather than months,” says Nugent. “App Cloud lets you adapt and structure data to new workflow. The drag-and-drop report form builder is excellent – you can report on anything built into your apps. Ease of reporting can’t be over-sold.”
Fulton Hogan launched Chatter to further promote its safety culture. Chatter ensures that the most senior people in Fulton Hogan are aware of new incidents. They can step in when they’re needed and pose additional questions to ensure incidents are managed quickly and transparently.
An app, called Management Safety Actions, satisfies a requirement specified by the Federal Safety Commissioner that asks Fulton Hogan’s senior managers to actively demonstrate safety leadership onsite. The new app was built in two days, and within two hours of release, 10 managers had uploaded inspection reports. So far 2,600 inspections have been uploaded, and reporting goes to board level and satisfies government audits.
Simon Dowsett is the National IMS Manager at Fulton Hogan’s Australian construction operation. His focus is developing systems that streamline reporting and compliance processes on construction projects. Showing rather than telling is crucial, he said. “We’re moving away from traditional procedures and wordy documents,” said Dowsett. “It’s better to show people what to do rather than ask them to read War and Peace. This is where Salesforce comes in. We might be good with ERP and Excel and registers, but that technology doesn’t track down to users.”
Engineering projects generate a mountain of paper and compliance work. Enterprise systems crunch the details, but they rarely equip workers with clever tools. Apps are proving to be the smartest way for organisations to extend their systems to mobile workers who, it seems, expect to have everything they need at their fingertips.