Whenever the FieldLens team sits down to discuss product development, we always ask ourselves this question before deciding if and how we will move forward:
Is this app going to make the lives of construction professionals easier?
That question filters through just about everything we do, including our blog, because making the lives of construction professionals easier is the very reason we got into this whole mobile jobsite management tech game. It’s our raison d’être, if you want to get fancy about it.
So that gets us questioning – what mobile apps do we use to make our professional lives easier? What are we seeing construction professionals already using on the jobsite or in the office that makes their lives easier? As construction savvy tech geeks who eat, sleep and breathe task management software, we think we have some street cred when it comes to knowing which mobile apps are truly useful for construction professionals.
To that end, today is the first of a new feature called FieldLens Favorite Apps, and this is where we’ll talk about apps our team is using, along with apps we’re seeing other construction professionals using and loving in the field.
So – we’re going to go ahead and kick things off with (pause for trumpet intro)…Dropbox!
But wait – before we get into what Dropbox is and why we love it, let’s do a quick review of cloud-based storage. You may have heard people talking about ‘cloud’ technology and figured they were discussing the latest development in atmospheric science. Wrong. Cloud technology is basically a system of running software on the internet rather than a local server or from your computer’s hard drive. Email services like Gmail and Yahoo are good examples of cloud-based technology because you can access those email accounts from anywhere and from any device that has access to the internet. This is opposed to a typical work email account which must be accessed through a server operated by the company you work for.
Cloud-based storage simply means that you can store any type of file on the internet rather than, or in addition to, your computer and/or server. You have instant access to files as long as you can access the internet.
Dropbox is a cloud-based file hosting application and is available via web or any mobile device.
You create a free account (if you require extra storage space, you’ll need to upgrade for a fee), and you can then upload or access files onto your Dropbox from anywhere.
Why We Love It
Super easy to use
Dropbox is about as simple and functional as it gets for cloud-based file storage. Setup happens in less than a minute, and it’s easy to figure out how to upload, organize and share files. You can also download a dropbox folder onto your desktop and mobile device. These folders automatically synchronize with your account. The desktop folder can be treated just like any other folder on your desktop, allowing instant access and the ability to drag and drop files right into your Dropbox folder.
Share files of any size with anyone
Email is easy for file sharing, but it limits the size of files you can attach. This limit is a challenge for construction professionals, because their attachments often include large files. Sharing dropbox files with someone simply sends that person an email link to access the shared file – and they don’t even need to have their own account to access the file you’ve sent.
Realtime access to your files from anywhere
Dropbox can download onto any mobile device, meaning that your files can be accessed in realtime, anytime and from anywhere.
Use it for Backup
Cloud-based storage means your files are always there. If your hard drive is ever erased and you lose everything, all files stored in the Dropbox cloud will always exist.
There are literally countless examples of how construction professionals could use Dropbox on the job. Change orders, photos, project plans, estimates, ASIs, RFIs, contract documents and submittals – all of these files can be uploaded to a Dropbox folder so that construction project teams have instant access to files from anywhere.
As the construction industry transitions to more efficient uses of mobile technology, it’s becoming clear that cloud-based software is being used to improve methods of collaboration among construction project teams. Dropbox is a great system for construction professionals who need a simple way to access and share files on the field or in the office.