HeadshotTara Callinan • 

Forms tips

Fieldwire’s forms module gives Business and Premier users one place to consolidate all of their paper forms — daily reports, safety audit forms, QA/QC inspection checklists, request for information (RFI) forms, timesheet forms, and time and materials (T&M) forms.

Within this module, we offer pre-made form templates to save you time as well as the option to create your own custom forms from scratch!

So, how can we save you even more time when creating and managing forms? Follow these handy tips from Fieldwire’s product team:

1. Use custom lists to simplify reporting

Want to reduce the time it takes your team members to submit a form? Custom lists are the way to go! Instead of users having to type out work conditions or construction divisions, e.g. which CSI division they’re from, they’ll just need to select the right option (or item) from the custom list.

custom lists

Project admins can create (and manage) all custom lists from the project settings tab where they’ll be prompted to name the list and input each item.

1. Create custom List

If you are the project admin and forget to add an item, just select ‘Import’ or ‘New item.’ We recommend using the ‘Import’ option if you need to add more than one entry, e.g. paste several entries from an existing list in a spreadsheet.

2. Add drop-downs to ensure privacy

If you feel you’re having trouble communicating to others what your list is about, we suggest using the ‘Hint’ drop-down to describe the purpose of your custom list. If not, just leave this field set to ‘N/A.’

Extra tip: You can set the drop-down menu to the right of each item as ‘Visible’ or ‘Hidden’ to hide certain items from non-admins. If you want to hide the entire list, go back to the project settings tab and set the whole list to ‘Hidden.’

3. Duplicate forms to reduce rework

Save your team even more time by duplicating the forms they commonly use on the same project. Once you duplicate a form template it will also become available on the mobile version of Fieldwire! This is the best workaround if you want to have multiple copies of a form available on your mobile app.

4. Clone forms to speed up project setup

Another time-saving hack is to clone form templates from one project to another. However, form templates can only be copied over to new projects, not existing ones. This help article explains the processes for both duplicating and cloning forms in more depth.

Forms tips gif

Instead of having to jump back-and-forth between your tasks and forms tab, you can create a form within a task or link an existing form to an existing task. E.g. a task outlining an issue with a wall and an RFI.

6. Analyze data using CSV exports

Do you know that every type of user can export a form but only a project admin can delete or un-submit it?

If you are the project admin and need to export more than one form, e.g. a daily report and an inspection request, simply click on the white box to the left of the report title and select the form/s you wish to download.

forms export

If you select the white box to the left of the folder title (in bold), all of the forms in that folder will be downloaded.

Extra tip: You can export a form as a PDF first to preview it, and then email it to all of your colleagues using the email button.

download forms

Right now, the only way to export (or download) a form is from the forms tab on the web. But we plan to change that soon!

If you have any questions or concerns, please email support@feldwire.com. Don’t forget we have plenty more guides available in our resource center if you need them.

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Webp.net resizeimage.jpgMatt Schneiderman • 

#17242-Trade-school Trade school, AKA vocational school or technical school, teaches the skills needed to perform the work for a particular job. A trade school offering courses on building and construction, then, can prepare you to do well in a construction job. But is it necessary, or a waste of time and money?

If you’re considering a career in construction, you may be weighing the pros and cons of trade school, considering whether it’s worth it. Short answer: Yes, it is. Longer answer: Read on.

How much trade school costs

The cost of trade school varies. Tuition can be anywhere from $1,000 to more than $30,000 per year.

On average, tuition at a public two-year trade school costs about $3,500 a year while a private two-year trade school costs about $14,000 a year. Add $1,200 a year for books and supplies, and you can get a sense of what a two-year program would cost.

Of course, many trade schools offer multiple forms of financial aid — grants, scholarships, subsidized loans, etc. — as well as paid on-the-job training, so don’t discount a program based solely on its sticker price.

Additionally, you could be eligible for financial help based on need or merit. Some states (California and Florida, for example) offer grants for vocational students. And there are scholarships available through industry organizations such as the National Association of Women in Construction and Associated General Contractors.

But even a relatively high $33,000 tab for two years at a private trade school is a bargain compared to the average cost of a four-year college — $127,000!

Benefits of trade school

  • Hands-on experience
  • On-the-job training
  • Placement assistance with industry employers
  • Fast-track to joining the workforce
  • Minimal student debt
  • Small classes

Do you need to go to school for construction?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics posted that construction workers don’t need a formal education — that construction can be learned through on-the-job training.

But if you’re looking to advance your career — or to make more than the $16.74 per hour the average laborer earns — the specialized training you’d get at a trade school is the way to go. Case in point: construction management salaries are two-to-three times higher than construction laborer salaries. Many trade schools offer construction management and construction tech programs. And a few universities offer master’s degrees in construction management, should you go on to further study.

Construction trade courses

Here’s what you’ll be learning if you enroll in a trade school for construction:

  • math
  • safety procedures
  • mechanical drawing
  • woodworking
  • materials
  • surveying
  • cost estimating
  • project coordination
  • blueprint reading
  • construction technology
  • communications
  • accounting
  • marketing
  • quality control

Is construction for you?

Before you apply to a trade school (or 10), ask yourself these questions:

Are you hands-on? Literally — do you enjoy working with your hands? Are you strong and dexterous?

Are you a good listener? You’ll need to pay attention to details — details that may be provided to you verbally or during a phone call.

Do you enjoy working on projects? Do you like to see something from start to finish?

Do you like math?

Are you flexible? The only constant in this world is change. This is especially true in construction. Weather, scheduling, and a million other factors can make confetti of your best-laid plans. Be ready to up and change locations, work-hours, and even jobs at a moment’s notice.

Do you enjoy variety? Your day-to-day routine will be anything but routine. Every day will bring new challenges and opportunities, each of which will require quick, creative thinking to solve.

Ready to relocate? As universal as construction is — there are cranes everywhere! — there will be times when you’ll need to travel to another city, state, or country to find the next best construction job. Your move could last a few months or a few years.

Do you want to help people? Few industries are as fundamental and beneficial as construction. You could be a part of a project that will affect the lives of hundreds, thousands, even millions of people.

Do you seek job security? Even with many information and service jobs being outsourced overseas, construction work can’t be done remotely — at least not easily. There’s growing demand for workers with specialized skills, especially those with real-world experience.

Do you like money? Given the increasing demand for skilled professionals, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the typical salary for a construction worker is well above the national average.

Still interested in a career in construction? Great!

Trade school vs. college

Most people consider college the next step after graduating high school — especially for anyone unsure what they want to be when they grow up. College is four years spent earning a degree, usually a bachelor’s, attending general education classes (English literature, history, math, and general science, e.g.) before focusing on courses within a specific major. After, college grads join the workforce or continue their education — going on to med school, for example.

But if you already know you’re interested in a career in construction, then trade school has several advantages over college:

  • Job-specific educational format
  • Skill-based training
  • Lower cost of tuition
  • Less time to complete the program
  • Specialized career offerings
  • Higher employment rate

Once you enroll in trade school, you will start the training needed to help you fast-track your success in construction. That means no classes like “Romantic Period British Literature” — much less courses with titles like “History of Surfing” or “Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame.”

Trade school vs. community college

Community colleges offer vocational, skill-based classes as well as more general education courses. They are typically less expensive than trade schools. Trade schools, on the other hand, can focus your learning on the skills you need for a specific job or career — they’re designed to get you into the workforce quickly with hands-on training and on-site experience.

Are trade schools accredited?

The Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges directory includes about 800 approved trade schools — so yes, most trade schools with construction training are accredited.

Do trade school credits count toward a college degree?

Trade school courses generally don’t count as college credits. So, no.

Is trade school a good idea?

Yeah, trade school is a good idea. If you go, you’re more likely to be employed post-graduation and to be working in the professional field you studied — i.e., construction. How many surfing majors can say the same?

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Webp.net resizeimage.jpgMatt Schneiderman • 

Webp.net-resizeimage (1) This week’s Customer Spotlight: BEI Construction, a NorCal-based company specializing in electrical and data infrastructure as well as solar power design and installation. Administrative Support Manager Rachel Pomeroy (pictured above) and Project Engineer Danielle Lee both use Fieldwire to communicate with their project team in the field from their office in San Leandro.

Current projects

Medical center client: fiber optic network installation; on-site data center upgrade

Tech client: project management support; security installations; cabling and A/V for multiple offices

Why they chose Fieldwire

Danielle: “We do a lot of big projects with a lot of items that need to be completed. We chose Fieldwire because we could customize it to our processes to make the company run more efficiently.”

Rachel: “We looked at PlanGrid, Construction Viz, BuildingBlok — all the majors ones that we were seeing GCs using. One of our criteria was that it needed to solve for the gaps in our office-to-field communications — OSHA, change orders, problems that needed to be communicated to the PMs on other projects or in the office. Before Fieldwire, we were texting, making phone calls, and of course things would be forgotten.

“We also wanted it to be easy for our guys in the field to adopt, that we wouldn’t need to get into too much training. It needed to be something anyone can adapt to and be into even if they aren’t so tech savvy.

“Compared to the others, Fieldwire is the most intuitive and user-friendly. It continues to be user-friendly for new users.

“We also like the adaptability of tasks. We get creative with the base templates — they’re really flexible and can be tweaked depending on the project.”

How they use Fieldwire

Danielle: “Fieldwire has so much functionality and it works with our other process that we use to make sure things run smoothly. We use it to work through issues that come up in the field and coordinate with our different divisions — we can make sure that any issues that arise get addressed.

“The forms help our teams make sense of what needs to be done when they’re out in the field. We use tasks like a ticket system — everything is documented in a task with a checklist. We can see who’s assigned each task, its status, and what’s been completed — we get notified in real-time when anything changes and everything’s documented.

“We use Excel spreadsheets with links to tasks for everyone to see and to make our work quantifiable. They’re useful for scheduling and look-aheads — we get a general view of our projects and technicians see which rooms they’ll be working on next.”

Rachel: “For our medical center client, all the rooms we’re working on are scheduled through Fieldwire. We screenshot the calendar and send that to all the PMs so they can see what each department is working on.”

“Hospitals are picky, so they want to see that we get permits and are opening and closing walls in a timely matter. Fieldwire helps us make sure that everything is tracked and in one place.”

Rachel Pomeroy, Administrative Support Manager, BEI Construction

“I love how I can customize reports to communicate exactly what we need to when there are issues — and it helps protect us in a legal sense. We’ve had situations where we used the reports with timestamped photos to show where we’ve run into issues, ‘We can’t move on these, here are ten drawings with the pics linked.’ The reporting is exact, concise, and very professional. I don’t know how we could’ve done it otherwise.

“It’s exciting that we’ve started using Fieldwire for tailgate topics, weekly safety, anything that needs to be signed off on. We upload files and use the share function to make sure everyone gets them — they’re not loose documents we hope to get filled out, instead we get real-time feedback.

“It’s also fun to see how Fieldwire adoption bubbles up over time. How much use it gets depends on how savvy the crew is. Some are good at tech — AV teams adapt really well. We find some field workers that are disinterested in tech, but when one or two people get excited about using it, their enthusiasm is contagious.”

Interested in learning how Fieldwire can help you? Contact us today!

HeadshotTara Callinan • 

#17170 Project tips

For all of our newcomers just getting started on Fieldwire (hey!), we created this simple guide that’ll help you set up your first project.

But for power users looking to learn about Fieldwire’s more advanced project features, this is for you!

We’ve got a bunch of tips and tricks up our sleeve for importing tasks, cloning projects, and setting user permissions. So let’s get straight to it.

Importing tasks in bulk

Save time during project setup with Fieldwire’s task importer! This handy feature is great for users who need to create repeatable tasks in bulk or import their tasks from a schedule in Excel.

To import all of your tasks from one plan to another — from, say, ‘Building 1’ to ‘Building 2,’ follow the steps outlined in this video tutorial. To get the most out of this feature, take note of the following tips:

  1. Use a spreadsheet template to maintain a list of repeatable tasks and copy/paste those in Fieldwire’s task importer at project creation
  2. If any data is highlighted in red on import, it means something is wrong with it — e.g., there could be a formatting issue with a date which you’d need to fix in Excel before copying over again
  3. Start typing within the task importer window to add in a task attribute you’d previously left out, such as a hashtag – Fieldwire will auto-populate your options
  4. Add files to your tasks by referencing an existing file in the task importer window

task importer laptop

Cloning a project

Do you have similar projects which need creating over and over again? Save even more time during project setup by cloning existing projects! Cloning a project will copy over existing project attributes to another so that all you need to do is upload your project documents. Now you’re ready to go!

To clone a project, select ‘+New Project’ on the project dashboard, then select the project you’d like to clone. Just like importing tasks, you can select exactly which attributes you want to be copied over. It’s that easy!

If you think that you’ll be cloning a particular kind of project frequently, create a project template that is pre-populated with the relevant categories, forms, checklists, folders, and settings. This is a useful time-saving tip if you work on many projects at once.

Setting user permissions

There are three main types of user permission levels on Fieldwire: admins, members, and followers. From the People tab, you can add new users, set user permission levels, and remove users from a project. To learn more about setting up users, read this guide.

In a nutshell, here’s what the permissions are and how they work:

  • Admins: Admins have full access to and total control over a project. They’re also the only people that can mark that project’s tasks as verified
  • Members: Members can do most of the things that admins can with the exceptions of adding or deleting plans, inviting new users to the project (without admin approval), and deleting tasks containing attachments. And one more thing: they can mark tasks as completed, but not as verified
  • Followers: Followers can only see tasks that are or have been assigned to them. They can create tasks, but cannot generate reports or edit, add, or delete plans, tasks, categories, or users. They also cannot add markups, hyperlinks, or attachments

Of course, you can make everyone on your team an admin if you like — though only a current admin can grant admin permission to another user. However, most folks prefer to set their PMs and supers as project admins and designate most of their teammates as members.

If you have any questions or concerns, please email us at support@feldwire.com. We also have many more guides available in our resource center.

If you want more tips and tricks like this delivered straight to your inbox, please subscribe to our weekly newsletter, The Wire.

Webp.net resizeimageRay Mina • 

#17155-Hiring-hack (1) What’s the first thing you do after celebrating your big project win?

Hire. And that sh%t is hard.

Tight time frames, local competing projects, and a chronic labor shortage all make hiring one of the hardest parts of your project.

But I’ve got a secret from mathematics that can help. Like dating, apartment hunting, and other forms of comparison shopping, you can optimize hiring by using the 37-percent rule.

The 37-percent rule, defined

The 37-percent rule says that when you’re making a decision, you’ll have the highest chance of picking the very best option if you look at and reject the first 37 percent of your total group of options.

The quick version

The 37-percent rule is all about spending just the right amount of time to make a decision that results in the best possible outcome.

The deeper dive

Hiring belongs to a class of math problems known as “optimal stopping” problems. The solution, 37 percent, is the optimal amount of effort to put into researching choices before taking decisive action on the next best option — which is mathematically proven to be the best option, minimizing regret and achieving the highest likelihood for satisfaction.

Other situations that lend themselves well to the 37-percent rule are dating (the so-called “marriage problem”), finding a parking spot, and accepting offers for a house, to name a few. But it’s hiring — hence, the example of a manager hiring a secretary in “the secretary problem” — that best illustrates optimal stopping theory.

Using the 37-percent rule for hiring in construction

Do this: Spend 37% of your hiring efforts meeting with candidates without committing to anyone. If you’ve given yourself a month to find a super, for instance, that means spending the first 11 days interviewing without making any offers. This period allows you to calibrate — getting a feel for who’s out there and clarifying what you’re looking for.

But once you reach the 37% point — Day 12 in this example — prepare to commit immediately to the next candidate that beats out the applicants you’ve already met.

Alternatively, make the count or estimated number of applicants in your recruiting pool the basis for the 37% number. If you’re planning to meet 50 applicants, interview 18 of them before making any decisions, and then hire the next person who’s an improvement over the first 18.

Why the 37-percent rule works

For a hiring-type of decision, the best outcome is the one that maxes out your chances of getting the best candidate available. To do this, you need to avoid twin FOMO regrets: losing out on a candidate you have met (the one that got away); losing out on a candidate you have not yet met (the stone left unturned). Without a baseline — that is, the calibration — you have no way of knowing how to judge who’s a fit and who’s not. The more people you interview, the more likely you’ll know the right candidate when you do meet them — but making the info-gathering stage too long could mean passing by on this person.

The 37-percent rule provides the right balance between acting rashly and waiting for perfection. Developed by mathematicians, the 37-percent rule quantifies what’s intuitive, that you should look at enough candidates to establish a standard and then take whatever candidate satisfies this standard. The “enough” is 37 percent.

The math

A mathematician wrote out the formulas for solving the secretary problem in Scientific American in 1960. The probability of selecting the best applicant in the presented scenario, the “secretary problem,” gets closer and closer to 1 over e (where e is the base of the natural logarithm) as the number of applicants increases. 1/e comes to about 0.3, which we round to 37%.

Of course, real-world situations don’t always conform so neatly to math theories. Not knowing how many applicants you’ll get for an open position would make it hard to know when to stop interviewing and start hiring. Still, imposing some structure and limits to a process that can too often drag on can only benefit you — and will kill your FOMO.

BTW, we’re hiring!

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