7 Years of failed attempts to go paperless

7 Years of failed attempts to go paperless

Earlier this week I met a chap who told me he’d spent the last 7 years working in businesses attempting to go ‘paperless on site’. All with miserable results.

In each case he reported that millions of dollars and years of effort were ultimately wasted because the projects were eventually scrapped.

Now in a new business, and giving it yet another go, I thought he might have some insights to share, and possibly had a screw loose. Either way it was worth finding out.

So first up, what was motivating this obsession? What does he have against good old pen and paper? It turns out he’s spent a lot of his career working onsite, and then later running projects from the office before moving into management. He reckons that paperwork onsite is a massive pain, and over the years the burden has been growing, making it harder for site workers to comply with requirements whilst actually getting the job done.

Having said that, he also understands how important the paperwork is both in terms of compliance, and more importantly for managing the business.

It turns out its that last point that really drives him. Whilst making it easy to do paperwork onsite is a prerequisite, the opportunity to unlock all the data contained in the paperwork is what keeps him forging ahead despite 7 years of disappointment.

As he is just embarking on yet another attempt, I wanted to know what he’s going to do differently this time? He said that the cause of problems last time were:

  • Software not being practical for users (Not offline, latency, inflexible etc)
  • Scope being too wide (attempting to solve every problem, and include every idea)
  • Process being too complex (re-inventing the wheel, by adding corners!)

This time he’s determined not to fall into the same traps. In the past the businesses he worked with opted to develop their own solutions as the market didn’t offer a solution that met all their requirements. Now he’s taking a different approach, and whilst it may involve some bespoke development, at the core of the solution will be best in class cloud products that can be meshed together to act as one solution. For him that means identifying the following solutions, and ‘making them sing’

  • A project based Mobile Front End (A paperless site app for forms, actions, drawings & markup that synchronises data to a central database)
  • An office based project ERP (for managing projects, resources, assets and financials)
  • A Dashboard and reporting system (to aggregate data and provide live dashboarding and reports for Management and Project teams)

After an exhaustive review of the market, he opted to implement APE Mobile as his mobile front end. Selecting it not just because the iPad app is so easy to use, and because instead of re-inventing the wheel it lets them use their existing paperwork, but because of its powerful export capabilities and integration API, it will seamlessly mesh with the other solutions he selects over the coming months.

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