Fieldwire and Building Design

DavidroundDavid Vasquez
Head of Customer Support

Building design and construction is ever-evolving, with projects great and small constantly coordinating many moving parts all at once. More and more focus is placed upon high performance building design and energy efficiency, but achieving such a detailed level of coordination requires complex interaction between countless technical disciplines, project managers, and contractors, all with often conflicting requirements. A successful building project doesn’t just happen, it takes contributions from people across both the design and construction phases of the project. And what better way to get everyone collaborating smoothly than to get them all working together in a mobile construction management program like Fieldwire?

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Task Tracking Across the Project Schedule

Collaboration is key to the successful management of design teams. Structural, architectural, geotechnical, and building services consultants (to name a few) all need to touch base with each other and design managers throughout their tenure on the job. Facades, ventilation, acoustics, and landscaping all play an increasingly important role in the overall building design as industry focus continues to shift toward green building and user comfort. This can lead to a number of additional design requirements.

Fieldwire allows for each one of these perspectives to remain transparent with all of the others, so no one is left in the dark regarding what other team members are up to. All queries, ranging from high level design coordination to specific design issues, can be designated by urgency, and the category and hashtag management systems built into the app make it very easy to organize tasks by discipline. This makes it simple for each consultant to view a list of tasks that belong to their team. Tasks can also be linked together so that assignees can identify when their work directly affects another’s, and users also have the ability to place tasks directly onto project drawings so that the location of each item is never in question. Start and End dates also clearly define the duration of each task, which the entire team can view on a calendar for simple scheduling needs.

Real-Time Accountability

The success of construction projects ultimately relies on the sum of its parts, and Fieldwire helps ensure that everyone is doing their part to get the team closer to completion. By assigning specific tasks to each respective user, you can create accountability within your Fieldwire project for every issue across the job site. When a task is first assigned to someone, they are notified both by email and mobile push notification about this event. Similarly, whenever that person updates the task with new data, the creator of the task is also notified. This keeps all pertinent parties in the loop regarding the task’s progress and lets you know in real-time when significant information is available. Fieldwire transfers data from device to device via the cloud, so as soon as new data is added and synced, it’s accessible to everyone in the project then and there.

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The ability to create customized categories for project trades or disciplines also helps keep tasks clear and distinct from each other, so your crew will know right away where to look for the issues they’re responsible for. Categories allow for easy visibility and filtering, as do hashtags, another grouping tool within Fieldwire that enables your team to track and locate desired tasks quite easily. Just assign categories and hashtags to tasks so that you and your team can parse out the relevant ones while working, as well as filter for them during report generation.

Adapting with Project Phases

As projects transition from one stage to another, different contributors can come to the forefront or recede to less prominent roles, but the need to track their efforts doesn’t change. Fieldwire helps you keep an accurate, living record of your work throughout the various phases of the project. Specialty consultants or contractors might need to provide updated design input for security or safety standards, or clients might have an evolving range of requirements that need to be met regarding the building’s future use. To accommodate these design developments, any changes or on-the-fly additions can be documented within Fieldwire.

Markups can be added to plans to address any revisions, and measurements can also be included with precise annotations. Sketches, specifications, and other relevant documentation can be pinned to plans and organized in a library of uploaded files. If a task needs to be transferred to another person or discipline as the design progresses, they can be updated with a few clicks in the app so that the appropriate consultant or trade is alerted. Tasks also contain a timestamped history of every update, so you will have a chronological record of everything that has transpired since the task’s creation. Any checklists or comments will be there for easy viewing, and if you need to make an inspection or go on a walkthrough across the site, Fieldwire’s convenient mobile apps will make it a breeze to jot down notes or add site photos as often as needed. The ample suite of tools and features available in Fieldwire make it possible to adapt to any sudden circumstance or phase of construction without breaking your stride.

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In order to cultivate efficiency and reliable building design, the flow of communication and information tracking needs to be steady and unimpeded. Fieldwire helps make this happen throughout your team by strengthening methods of collaboration, both in the office and in the field. This ensures coordinated documentation and guarantees that your team’s contributions will be maximized in order to achieve the best building design possible with every project going forward.


Helpful Tips & Tricks

DavidroundDavid Vasquez
Head of Customer Support

We like efficiency here at Fieldwire, and we’ve designed our software to be as intuitive and conducive to completing your work as possible. For many this can simply mean becoming familiar with our basic features, but for those of you who want an extra edge in developing time-saving techniques, there are a number of helpful tips and tricks available that you may not even know about. Here’s a rundown of some of our more creative capabilities!

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Hashtags & @ Signs

The @ sign is a fast way to assign core task attributes, such as category, priority, or ownership to the task within a simple note. Typing “@P1” in a task comment will immediately update the task to Priority 1, or “@Electrical” will change the category to Electrical. This can often be a better method of assigning attributes without interrupting notation, and should you want to change the task assignee while also looping in other teammates, simply leave multiple @ sign mentions in your comment. So if I want to assign the task to John, but need Steve and Marissa to stay abreast of progress as well, leaving a comment sequence like “@John @Steve @Marissa” will place the task under John’s ownership and include Steve and Marissa in all future task update notifications.

Hashtags, on the other hand, are great grouping tools for tasks. Similar to categories, you can use a hashtag in a task comment to label certain tasks in more diverse ways. So while you may have multiple tasks with the Concrete category in one building, you can use hashtags to further narrow down the filtering results for those tasks based on criteria such as room number, or the floor of the building, or if the task relates to unique conditions. #2ndfloor, #suite3, or #rfi are common examples of hashtags, and the possibilities for their application are as endless as your job site’s circumstances.

Task Duplication

There are plenty of situations that might involve having many identical tasks on a plan, such as a room with many drywall fixes. Rather than having to manually recreate the task over and over, you can easily duplicate a single task as often as you need to. On web this is accomplished by right clicking on the task pin, and on our mobile apps you can do so by pressing and holding down on the pin until you see the duplication option appear. It’s a great way to speed up the documentation process without the tedium of repetition.

Batch Task Editing

So let’s say that you successfully duplicated all of those tasks, but noticed that you made a mistake by giving the original task the wrong priority, or the wrong start or end date. Rather than go through the hassle of manually editing each of those tasks, you can use the batch task editing tool to change the mistaken attribute in bulk. Just select all of the tasks in question by holding down the Shift key, then select the “Edit” option from the Actions menu at the top of the Tasks page to update the desired attribute in all of them at once. You can use this batch editing option to correct mistakes, or update ownership of these tasks to another person, or even to associate them with a different plan entirely. Best of all, you can update them all in one easy go.

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Checklist Templates

Utilizing checklist templates is another great way to streamline task setup and avoid repetition. If you have a certain checklist that can be applied to multiple punch or inspection tasks as a kind of standard, then having to recreate that checklist by hand over and over would undoubtedly be a pain. A much better solution is to save an entire checklist template within the project itself, so that way you can simply paste that same checklist into any task with one simple click. Selecting to add a new checklist and saving the template you create will make inserting it into any task a breeze from then on.

Leaving Signatures

Many users often request the ability to leave signatures within tasks, without knowing that there’s already a tool available for that right under their noses! The Scribble tool is an option within the Attachment menu (a button that looks like a paperclip) in the toolbar at the bottom of the task view screen on our mobile apps. Selecting this tool allows you to create freehand drawings and lines, including the ability to leave a signature with your fingertip. This gets saved as an image attached in the task. It’s a great option for signing off on completed tasks and enabling further accountability within our app.

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Snap Markup Options

Fieldwire offers a lot of markup tools for your as-built plans, but sometimes the finger is not as steady as the eye, which can sometimes make straight lines and angles tricky to create. Luckily, we’ve recently released the option to create perfect angles with your markups. Now anytime you need to make a straight line, arrow, or measurement at a specific angle, you can hold down the Shift key on your computer and use those markup tools to snap the line you draw to fixed degrees (based on your cursor’s movements). This should come in handy when you need to make markups at precise angles on your sheets.

Exporting in Bulk

Those of you with a premium Fieldwire account surely make use of the exporting option for plans and photos regularly. In order to expedite those times when you need to export multiple plans or photos from your project, you can simply hover your cursor over each plan or photo thumbnail and select every chosen file, then export all of them in bulk by using the Actions menu at the top of the page. Every selected file should be delivered to you in a zip file, which means batch exporting should take no longer than a matter of seconds.

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These are just some of the useful tips and tricks tucked away in Fieldwire. Some of you may have been curious enough to find them on your own, but for the rest of you who were in the dark until now, hopefully these convenient features will help you save even more time than before!


The 8 Wastes in Construction

StephaneroundStephane Denerolle
Product Evangelist

The construction industry is responsible for the creation of remarkable achievements, but unfortunately, it can also be responsible for generating inefficiency. Studies show that more than 50% of the time spent on construction in the United States is wasted on unproductive activities. Anything that can be eliminated without diminishing the value of work for the customer can be defined as waste, and it can often go unnoticed by many professionals.

Here are the 8 basic types of waste commonly found on construction projects.

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1) Defects

Anything that wasn’t done correctly the first time and must be repaired, replaced or redone. This includes damaged material, rework, or punch list items. A flooring material not installed per the specifications or a finished wall damaged by the electrical contractor would fall under that category.

2) Overproduction

Fabricating material too soon or ordering extra material because of poor quality, as opposed to “Just-in-time” thinking, which consists of producing and delivering the right amount of material at the time it is needed for production. While it’s easy to label excess material as waste, material being delivered too soon is also wasteful since it results in excess inventory, which may then need to be discarded should the design change.

3) Inventory

Being burdened by excess materials, often caused by overproduction. This includes material stored on-site or at the fabrication yard, work in progress, and unused tools & parts. While having some inventory on hand is necessary to keep the project going, these materials should be minimized as much as possible, as they tend to require a fair bit of handling and storage space.

4) Extra Processing

Unnecessary steps in the project value chain, such as transforming or double-handling material. There are also a lot of coordination and administrative workflows on a construction project that can lead to double data entry: multiple signatures on forms, organizing field notes into a report, redundant daily logs, and forwarding emails with drawings and RFIs to the field, to name a few.

5) Motion

Extra steps taken by people to accomplish their work as a result of inefficient processes. This includes time spent looking for a tool or file, as well as walking extra yards due to poor layout of the work area.

6) Transportation

Unnecessary movement of materials or equipment. This can involve movement from one jobsite to another, or from a yard to a material laydown area and then again to the actual work area. While this type of waste cannot be eliminated 100%, transportation should be minimized as it not only adds time to the whole construction process, but also exposes the material to handling damage.

7) Waiting

Crews waiting for the delivery of material or equipment, or the completion of a preceding activity. This also applies to anyone on the project waiting for information, such as field personnel waiting for a plan or an RFI, a scheduler waiting for progress updates, or payroll waiting for time sheets.

8) Underutilized Talent

Failing to make use of people’s skills, creativity, or knowledge on the project. This is not one of the Seven Wastes (or 7 Mudas) found in Lean literature, but it is accepted as an additional waste commonly found in the industry. Your people are your greatest asset, and they should be empowered and listened to in situations that could benefit from their strengths.

Hopefully these examples will give you some ideas on how to be more productive on your construction project. If you have any comments or questions about the content of this blog post, please let us know by emailing us at support@fieldwire.com.


How is Fieldwire Different From a Plan Viewer?

MarielleroundMarielle Price
Director of Customer Success

A project is built from plans and specifications. These documents are critical to knowing what needs to be installed where. With the proliferation of mobile devices, past concerns about plans - getting them dirty, damaged, or simply struggling to lug them around - have dramatically reduced since these documents can now be accessed on any phone or tablet. And plan printing costs can get pretty steep, so simple plan and document viewers can definitely save you a few bucks. But really, plan viewers don’t really change the way projects are run. To get real savings on your project, you need to address the wastes that occur - double entry, loss of information, rework, and waiting time.

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There are a couple of key ways that Fieldwire is so much more than just a simple plan viewer. First, projects are always undergoing changes, and it’s critical to make sure that everyone on your team is always working off of the latest set of plans to avoid rework. Fieldwire’s version control engine makes adding new plan versions effortless. The software will read the new plan number and slip sheet it in front of the older versions, copying over any markups automatically. If you have an RFI or change order that’s going to affect an area, simply attach the file directly to the plan while you’re waiting for a new version to be issued. As soon as the file is posted on the plan, the whole team will be able to see the change.

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Second, construction is a task-driven industry. Based on a study done by the Construction Industry Institute, only 29% of a tradesperson’s day is actually spent performing their craft. The other 71% of their time is spent waiting around for information, materials, equipment, or traveling around the jobsite. Hourly labor generally accounts for over half of the costs during construction, so cutting down wasted time is how you’re going to really affect the bottom line. Fieldwire’s task and reporting features are what our clients report save them the most time - on average 5+ hours each week. Tasks can be used to quickly document an issue and assign it out to the appropriate teammate. The assignee gets notified in real-time, making sure they know exactly what they need to be working on that day or week. Rather than needing to call, text, or email someone to get a status update, simply open the app for the latest information. All comments, photos, and checklists are timestamped, ensuring you have an accurate history of everything that takes place on the project. Any issues can also be grouped together in a report and sent out automatically with the latest info.

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Construction is unique - no other industry has dozens of different companies with different processes coming together to create a completely unique product. Streamlining communication and changing how we work together on the jobsite is really what needs improvement, more than just simple mobile plan viewing. And Fieldwire’s here to do that.


Early Summer Feature Updates

DavidroundDavid Vasquez
Head of Customer Support

Summer might not technically start until June 20, but we’re already soaking up the sun here at the Fieldwire office. There’s a good chance you are too while you’re out working in the field, so when you come back inside to grab some shade, why not check out a few of the new web-based features we just released? Think of them as an early summer treat, and like a popsicle on a sunny day, they should hopefully hit the spot.

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Revamped Sheet Comparison

First up, we have a bit of an expansion of one of our previous newly-made features. You may recall that when we originally unveiled sheet version comparison for premium Fieldwire accounts, you could only compare two versions of the same sheet together. Now that’s a pretty useful feature on its own, but as soon as we were finished with it we took a step back and decided, “Nah, we can do even better.” So now, premium users are able to compare ANY sheets together. Whether they’re two versions of the same sheet or two entirely different sheets, you can now view a color-coded comparison of both sheets on the web. And on top of that, you can now also export that sheet comparison as an image file. Read more about it here.

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Batch Photo Management

Next, we decided it’d be a good idea to streamline the way you can manage multiple photos at once, rather than opening each photo one by one. Now when you select your photos on web, you can add tags to them all in one go by clicking on the Actions button at the top of the Photos page. This should help you group together photos quicker and easier than previously possible. Also under the Actions menu, you can now attach photos from the Photos page directly to specific tasks. This will come in handy if the photos were added to the Photos page in bulk, rather than individually to their respective tasks. Give these new photo options a try!

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Web Notification Option

Last but not least, we added a simple but effective messaging feature that you can utilize on web. You already know about the bell icon for notifications anytime there’s a task or plan update, but now if you click that same button you’ll see another option: “Send project notification.” This is essentially a project-wide messaging system that allows you to send an alert or notification to project users (Admins and Members can use this feature, Followers are unable to do so). You can send it to everyone, or only certain people based on their permission level. So if you want to call a meeting together for Admins, or if there’s a safety hazard or sudden circumstance you want to bring to everyone’s attention, just fire off a notification whenever the need arises.

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That should do it for now, but we’re still working more goodies even as we speak. Keep an eye out for another big update in the near future, perhaps even by the time summer officially begins. For those of you who continue to share your feedback with us, we thank you for your enthusiasm. Some of our best features may never have come to pass without your great ideas, so thanks for making your voices heard. And for those of you who haven’t yet shared your feature requests with us, speak up! We always have an ear to lend, and as you can see, it yields big results.

Fieldwire is free for small teams on Apple iOS, Android, and on the web. We support 100,000+ projects worldwide, and our community continues to grow with each passing day!


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