The Great Conflict – Office Versus Field. Or is it?

In “The Construction MBA,” Matt Stevens argues that there’s an inherent conflict between the office and the field:

All formally organized contractors have field and office operations. Each executes key functions in the ongoing life of a construction firm. However, they have conflict historically. Whether due to personality differences or process requirements, they don’t get along in some ways. It may be because of style, demands or just perceptions, but it can be tragic to construction firms.

But do office and field operations have to conflict? Do they have to pose tragic consequences to construction firms? At FotoNotes, we don’t think so. Consider, as builds on this line of argument:

The field and the office are separate, but equal. Critical in their own right and cannot be eliminated. The functions they serve have been around since man has built for a profit.
Office– ensures that a contractor gets a next project, builds this project profitably and gets paid on it. To do this they need to track everything. Paperwork is a legal and practical requirement.
Style – Formal. Written communication is many times desired. If it is not written down, it did not happen. Wants detail of all processes and events documented. The building process is ongoing and is high pressure, but the office needs information now.
Field –makes certain to install work well. All the project parties are managed or influenced by the field staff. Superintendents and other project supervisors make certain the company’s labor, materials, equipment and other field expenses are coordinated on the job.
Style – Informal. Verbal communication is some times desired. Reading reams of paper is not preferred. Wants labor, material and equipment resources gathered days before they need them, so can schedule work with confidence. Can work out small details later as long as most everything is in place. Clear and up to date information about pending change orders, requests for information, and material delivery dates is desired. They also want preferred crews on the job consistently.
So they obvious question: what happens when mobile applications and next-generation smart mobile devices take informal, verbal communications and voice, text, photos, and other information collected in the field and seamlessly bring it to the office? What happens when mobile devices remove the need for paper forms? When data is automatically collected and uploaded to back-office systems? When there’s no distinction between the speed and informality of field communications and the rigor and documentation required in the office?
FotoNotes is making that happen today. Contact us to learn more.