with mobile technology
When a major construction company wanted to integrate mobile technology, we helped design an app that simplified its business.
In the construction industry, a project isn’t done until every last item on the punch list is crossed off. The concept is simple—the punch list represents the final walk through with the contractors, architect, and occupant to ensure that all outstanding details are complete—but the logistics are often complex, manual, and tedious.
The Walsh Group wanted to change that. It envisioned a touch-based mobile solution that would streamline and simplify the punch list process. So the company brought our digital team on board to help make its vision a reality. We designed and built a Windows 8 mobile app, paired with a web app counterpart, that’s helping transform Walsh's punch list process.
Punch list pain points
The punch list process requires a physical walk through—floor by floor, room by room—of the construction site to identify any outstanding issues or defects and connect those issues to the responsible contractor.
It’s traditionally a manual, paper-based process that varies wildly across the board. During the walk through, some project managers will take notes on a blueprint, others on a mobile device, and others in a notebook. From there, closing the loop with the responsible contractors adds another layer of complexity: some PMs use phone or email, others fax, and some leave hand-written notes on the front seat of a pick-up truck. Considering the massive size and scale of Walsh’s construction contracts, those manual inconsistencies added up.
Other challenges associated with the punch list process included:
Lengthy turnaround time: The time to “punch out” an area using manual methods was measured in days and weeks.
Collaboration inefficiencies: Punch list action items couldn’t be shared with external team members until the end of the formal punch list process.
Data entry delay and duplication: Without onsite access to desktop computers and guaranteed Internet connectivity, inspections required Walsh and its extended team members to take notes during the walk through and then officially record inspection details, reporting, and subcontractor communication notes back at the office.
Issue management clutter: Walsh and its subcontractors manually managed outstanding issues using multiple communication channels—email, fax, paper, etc.—making it difficult to wrangle the status of action items across a project and impossible to manage across Walsh’s entire portfolio.
"Before working with Slalom on the Punch List app, going through a punch list was a tedious process that varied from job to job. The finished product has not only given us a technological edge, but also a consistent process for both Walsh employees and our partners."
Building a digital solution
Walsh needed an intuitive application for its employees and extended team members that could be accessed by multiple users at various locations. We delivered a two-part digital solution.
Mobile app for Windows 8
We designed and built a Windows 8 tablet app that helps Walsh employees create and manage punch list items—anytime, anywhere. Features include:
Touch-enabled experience: A simple UX streamlines the process of defined punch list item locations, and an intuitive photo annotation feature enables project managers to quickly record proof of issues.
Cloud-based online/offline sync: To overcome the challenges of limited on-site connectivity, the app locally stores and syncs content via the cloud using Microsoft Azure once reconnected via WiFi.
ERP integration: Vendor and category syncing with Walsh’s existing ERP system, CMiC.
Digital document and image annotation: Building plans and images can be displayed within the application, allowing users to add files and view previously-add mark ups.
Web app complement
In order for Walsh’s users to assign open action items to its contractors, the app required a web-based counterpart. We developed a web application that allows Walsh’s users to manage, assign, and monitor punch list items. The company’s outside contractors can use the authenticated portal to view, track, and complete outstanding items that they’re on the hook for.
With the mobile app, punch list walk throughs have been transformed.
Benefits to users:
Only the information that’s needed: Users can filter by role or type, such as plumbing, to only view the tasks that are relevant to them and their role.
Clear, visual task notes: To better communicate outstanding tasks, action items can be overlaid on blueprints, associated with pins for spatial location, or paired with annotated photos—providing the recipient with context and actionable to-dos.
Streamlined workflow: A process that was once scattered and manual is now tied into a centralized mobile solution. Task owners can clearly view and manage their open tasks, and project managers can easily see all open punch list items through to completion.
Benefits to The Walsh Group:
Shorter time-to-completion: This final step in the construction process once took weeks; it now takes days, thanks to the automated, centralized, and mobile solution.
Centralized data visibility and insights: Before, Walsh lacked a top-level view of its project punch lists. With a centralized view, it can take advantage of the data visibility to optimize processes, improve working relationships, and save money.
Marketing differentiator: Walsh’s punch list pain points were not unique—all industry players experience the same challenges. With its proprietary digital solution, Walsh is paving the way for technology-enabled efficiency and innovation in its space.