Smart software from Fieldfix gets the right information to the right people at Austin Asphalt from anywhere, anytime.
Not only does this enable them to gain efficiencies across the business in terms of paperwork reduction and capturing and reporting information in real time from job sites, but also importantly it provides the ability to view the profitably of any job, contract or client and it’s makeup at any given stage of their lifecycle.
“Compared to where we were when we first made the decision to implement FIELDFIX, we’re worlds apart. It’s just magic!” says Roger Austin, managing director of Austin Asphalt.
FIELDFIX is a mobile business information system designed to get the right information to the right people, from anywhere, at any time.
The tagline “Smart software for fat fingers” came about from the company’s early beginnings, born out of an unlikely partnership between a contractor with 20 years’ hard experience at the coalface and a specialist IT company with strategic expertise in design and software development.
Every stage of the software development was driven by the practical needs of the contractor; the customer telling the IT experts what they needed the system to do and to deliver. The smallest details were considered, right down to the background of the mobile app being designed in the best colour for visibility in direct sunlight when the guys were out in the field.
The company philosophy is built around being practical. As co-founder and general manager Peter Cooper says, “You can buy all sorts of software and leave it to the guys in the field to get to grips with. But if they don’t buy into it, they’re not going to use it and then you’ve got nothing.
“We knew it had to be simple for it to succeed, so that the fat fingers and thumbs out there would use a system they believed in and understood.”
Having initially investigated building his own bespoke app, once Roger Austin saw what the system could do, he knew immediately it would provide Austin Asphalt with what it needed.
At the very beginning it was decided that a gradual rollout process was the right way to go. This enabled the Austin Asphalt team to get to grips with the culture change involved with the adoption of mobile technology in a measured and controlled manner. A pre-implementation session was run to work out the various implementation stages. The two companies worked together closely to identify and set-up the specific activities carried out on a daily basis. Any training considerations were also covered off in order to be able to hit the ground running when Austin Asphalt was ready to go live.
By taking this approach Austin Asphalt was able to embed the change from paper-based systems to mobile information capture in a gradual and manageable fashion, whilst being supported during the process.
When you consider how much time staff spend completing paperwork, driving to and from the office for work details, making repeat visits to sites to correct lost or inaccurate information instead of getting the job done, the implementation very quickly starts to pay for itself.
For Austin Asphalt this meant critical information, such as variations, could now be recorded, priced and dealt with from the field as they arose. Accurate, real-time analysis enabled up-to-the-minute profitability reporting and quick rate adjustments if needed on the fly. The ability to track all costs 100 percent accurately or to measure a variety of other aspects through the vast array of reports meant important decisions could be made quickly and easily as information was readily to hand. Graphics tracking of each job would also expose good and bad methodologies in the business, allowing the streamlining of all job operations over time.
Another key factor for Austin Asphalt was the ability to integrate the mobile software seamlessly with its existing systems, such as Ace Payroll and other specific export and import formats for Xero. Time captured using mobile timesheets can be reviewed and approved in the field and then exported directly into Ace Payroll for the pay run at the end of each pay period. Time recorded can also be viewed under the applicable job, making it easy to see the complete picture of every job throughout its lifecycle, and manage all related costs such as staff, material and associated plant spends. As Roger Austin puts it, “Mobile timesheet capture makes the wages from the field to bankpayment seamless.” Also if a crew is out in a remote area without cellphone coverage, the mobile app still works offline, capturing the information ready for sending when the crew re-enter a coverage area. This means things aren’t being missed just because a job is exceptionally remote.
Whether it’s short jobs with a high rate of turnover or long jobs spread over months or even years, the new solution has the flexibility to cater for all. Complex jobs can be split into smaller components or tasks and dispatched to the different individual field crew or subcontractors, straight to their mobile devices. Evidence of work performed can be referenced through photos that are captured against the job. Austin Asphalt never need worry again about SD cards, downloading photos, labelling and filing, because the software automatically compiles all photos and text into a formatted PDF report providing graphic evidence of what is occurring on site, as it happens. Now that the basics have been bedded in (timesheets and job cards), next cab off the rank for Austin Asphalt are the wider solutions for information capture which the software also offers. While born out of the job management space, the product’s easy-build custom field framework provides the ability to capture all sorts of information from the field, whether it be specific or ad-hoc job information, pre-job start checks, elevated work platform checks or requirements, vehiclechecks, incidents and accidents, or even logging visitors to site – FIELDFIX can manage it and report it all, instantly from anywhere, anytime.