How architects can make the most of mobile devices to transform their productivity

January 04, 2022

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Architects spend so much of their time on the road, consistently communicating with clients and contractors, accessing designs, performing site inspections, taking notes during meetings, etc.  – and mobile devices can help accelerate all these processes.

In this blog, we’ll look at how mobile apps can help architects become more productive and save hours of valuable time across all parts of their day.

For example, saving a single hour on your site inspections and drafting field reports can add up to whole billable days saved over the course of a month or two.

But field reports are just the beginning. The right mobile apps can help architects make all parts of their day more efficient and less stressful.

Before leaving for the office – transport work the easy way

When architects get into the design and modelling work, they’ll naturally turn to dedicated workstations and industry-standard CAD solutions.

However, when they leave their office and workstation behind, they need a way to show clients the new designs or to annotate models. Printing designs out on paper and lugging them around is a common way to transport work, but it can be inefficient and prone to error.

Mobile devices can strip out this traditional paper-intensive step, as many industry-standard tools offer handy mobile apps that let architects take their work with them.

For example, AutoCAD Mobile is a mobile app extension for AutoCAD that helps architects review drawings and designs with clients on site – bridging the gap between the design studio and the construction site.

During client meetings – work faster with a digital sketchbook and notepad

Getting the most out of client meetings starts with capturing client feedback so you can implement it into your designs.

Tablets paired with a stylus and apps like Nebo, GoodNote, and OneDrive can make this process as simple as writing in a notebook. Unlike handwriting notes, this digital alternative offers the benefit of easier storage and organization in your systems versus having it written on piece of paper that still needs to be typed up when you get back to the office.

If you want to quickly sketch a concept or idea, sketching apps – like Morpholio, Concepts and Procreate – combined with an accurate stylus give a great drawing experience on your tablet. Options like an ‘undo’ button while sketching, or the ability to work with layers and even scaling tools are transforming the way architects sketch idea and concepts.

This helps you capture ideas without having to wait until you get back to the office, and it leads to more collaborative design and feedback sessions with your clients as they can see your ideas as you draw them on screen.

Shapr3D, a 3D CAD app for iPads, lets architects sketch 2D concepts with the Apple Pencil. Once they’ve finished their concepts, the app can easily transform those concepts into 3D shapes.


 

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While on-site – take the busywork out of site inspections and field reports

There’s plenty to do while you’re on-site, so it’s all too easy to put off writing up field reports or punch lists till later.

Not only does that slow you down, it also means manually re-entering data the next time you’re in the office – leading to the potential for human error, misunderstandings, and costly mistakes.

What if, instead, you could automatically generate field reports as you conduct site inspections? Apps like ArchiSnapper make that a reality. By helping you record text, take photos and annotate floor plans while on-site, you can avoid double keying information, struggling with the layout of your report in Word, or spending time transferring and arranging site photos.

And there are even more apps that can streamline other parts of your site visits. For example, CamToPlan uses your device’s camera to take measurements and generate floor plans almost instantly.

And if you use a newer device with LiDAR technology, measuring apps like Polycam and Roomscan LiDAR are even more accurate.

These apps make clever use of augmented reality technology to replace slow, error-prone measurements with a near-instant digital alternative. It’s as easy as tapping the walls with your camera. The apps then do the rest, creating an accurate 3D model in minutes.

Did you know that many architects already use speech-to-text features to ‘write’ text hands-free? All Android and iOS devices have speech-to-text features that let you dictate notes by voice, and your device will take care of the rest. This approach is already transforming the way your peers approach punch list meetings and other situations that demand rapid note-taking.

Back at the office – cut out the manual copy/paste

Whether you’re writing up meeting notes, to do items, field reports, or plan annotations, by processing them digitally while on the go, you save a lot of time when you get back at the office. And that means you’ll have more time for valuable tasks like design work or marketing.

This also applies to administrative tasks like expense and time management.

If you’re still holding onto paper receipts and logging time manually at the end of the timesheet period, you’re missing out on significant time savings.

Mobile apps like Expensify can help you take a streamlined, automated approach to filing expenses.

And if your firm uses a dedicated ERP solution, you may already have a mobile app available that offers time and expense management functionality on the go.

Many of the top ERP vendors (including Deltek) allow you to take photos of receipts, automate expense reports and simplify timesheets from anywhere.

Make the most of your time, wherever you are

Time is one of the only things you can’t get more of. It’s our most valuable resource.

Mobile technology helps architects save time across their entire day by cutting down on low-value tasks like printing out floor plans, typing up hand-written notes and manually filling in time sheets.

By cutting out the humdrum tasks, architects can spend more of their time doing fulfilling, meaningful work. While it might be a few minutes saved here and there, these add up to multiple hours per week – and even entire weeks per year!

To learn more about how architects can transform their productivity, take a look at our white paper on how to make the most of your smartphone or tablet to give your productivity a boost.

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