Bluebeam provides a separate free app, Vu, which can view and collaborate with projects already in the Bluebeam cloud, allowing everyone on-site to have access to plans and collaboration tools.
The PDF-based software currently is used by 74% of ENR’s top U.S. contractors, according to Bluebeam.
PlanGrid, as previously reported in ENR, focuses on plan versioning through automatic updates to plans stored in the cloud. It emphasizes speed of use, especially on large plans, and a unique system of tagging and identifying documents, according to co-founder Ryan Sutton-Gee.
The app is free for up to 50 plans, and users are able to write notes, call out certain areas for RFIs, and tag photos to places around the site, which can help especially with liability, Sutton-Gee said.
While PlanGrid offers a tiered service based on the number of plans uploaded to its cloud server, Fieldwire prices its project management app based on the number of people collaborating on the project.
Fieldwire, which looks to distinguish itself with its field-first approach to project management, emphasizes ease of use on-site and low training time. In-app communication functions like text messaging, according to co-founder Javed Singha.
Singha says some customers prefer Fieldwire because of the user-number pricing structure—up to five collaborators with unlimited documents for free—but chalks up overall preference to which system works better with a firm’s business model.
Procore is a package of mobile and web-based project management software. Through the mobile app, Procore joins PlanGrid and Fieldwire in functions such as sending media-rich RFIs, annotating shared drawings and sharing punch lists.
The project management application taps email as its primary communication method, which can provide benefits for those who might have access to email and not the app. Also, having all communication routed through email servers can create redundancy and provide ease of access to those not as tech-savvy.
The Procore system mainly facilitates communication while leaving some heavy lifting to other applications. It integrates with ProEst, Microsoft Office, Microsoft Project, Primavera P6 and P3, JD Edwards and Sage 300.
“We’re striving to be the hub of information on a project, so we sort of have a defined arena,” said Daniel Cohen, director of marketing at Procore.
The Procore app is free to download on iTunes and Android’s Google Play Store but requires a Procore subscription to access.
One of the most well-known and widely used pieces of mobile software is Autodesk’s BIM 360 Field and the newer BIM 360 Glue, which extends Autodesk’s BIM software to tablets and phones. This function allows BIM data to be brought onto the jobsite in a native format.
Autodesk says that, between its two offerings, BIM 360 Glue and Field, its BIM collaboration tool and app for field data management respectively, it “stands alone” as a complete solution, according to Jarrod Krug, Autodesk industry marketing manager.
“The power of BIM 360 is in the ability to connect disparate teams across all phases of construction,” Krug said, in an email message.
Some companies span multiple groupings, such as SAP, which offers custom app development as well as out-of-the-box solutions. Its suite of workforce applications, including SAP 3D Visual Enterprise Viewer and SAP Work Manager, integrates with SAP back-ends to offer greater software influence on the jobsite.
SAP’s most flexible mobile solution is HTML-5 based Fiori, an adaptive web application. Fiori extends SAP’s enterprise resource planning software to any mobile or desktop browser. While usable with little programming, according to Jim Jaquet, senior director of mobile solutions at SAP, the tool is also highly customizable and includes functions for electronic punch clocks, toolbox checks, inventory control and preventative maintenance.
SAP has invested in mobile functionality more than any other company, including IBM and Microsoft, according to Ian Finley, managing vice president of research at Gartner Group.
“They’re very, very focused on mobile because they think it is a big part of the future, and you can’t say that about most of the other vendors,” Finley said.