The Biggest Problems Facing
Field Engineers Today
September 21, 2020
The Evolving Role of Field Engineers in This “New Normal”
As challenges become more complex for field engineers, now more than ever, the solution needs to be simple.
Field engineers have never had an easy job. Even before the current crisis, they were faced with a dizzying array of tasks and responsibilities to undertake on a daily basis – managing crews, ensuring their teams had the drawings, specs, materials and other resources they needed to perform the required work, troubleshooting issues in the field, ensuring productivity goals were aligned with the schedule, tracking and approving time, and on and on and on.
Historically, many organizations have used so-called “point solutions” to manage these tasks. These could include such well-known programs as Excel, SharePoint, Dropbox and, of course, that old standby Outlook. The advantage of such applications is that they are low cost, easy to use and require little training. However, they can create a myriad of problems for businesses that attempt to use them to manage large projects involving multiple stakeholders.
For one thing, these disparate tools do not “talk to each other”; if you have your estimating information stored in Excel, your plan created in Primavera P6, your permits, contracts and other documents uploaded in SharePoint, and important correspondence pertaining to all of these items sitting in various email inboxes, you’re going to spend a lot of time chasing down information. Switching back and forth between 10 different computer tabs in order to piece together needed project data is not the best use of a field engineer’s time, and will invariably contribute to inefficiencies.
A related problem is that on large projects with dozens of companies involved, it’s unlikely all stakeholders will be using the same programs and applications, resulting in miscommunication and confusion that can hinder progress, impact the bottom line and make the field engineer’s job even more difficult.
Today, not only do these legacy challenges persist, but now there’s a new wrinkle. As this year’s pandemic intensified, increasing emphasis was placed on performing work remotely rather than out in the field. As a result, critical face-to-face conversations that would ordinarily take place between site foremen and field engineers on the jobsite were no longer possible, resulting in an information vacuum with deep implications vis a vis decision making, communication and efficiency.
For organizations without mobile field capabilities, the sharing of information in a way that enabled field engineers the usual level of real-time communication, decision-making and tracking was virtually impossible, compounding the already immense daily challenges faced by them.
However, forward-thinking organizations are looking to technology as a way to solve all of these challenges – both historical and current – in tandem. The adoption of digital project management solutions provides field engineers with a simple way to assess project progress, transmit vital information and make real-time decisions through a single platform, rather than multiple disconnected point systems. And they can perform these tasks from anywhere, via tablet or computer, without having to be in the field. Today’s most advanced, integrated tools, such as those offered by InEight, also enable the carry-through and preservation of project data across the life cycle, so there are no information gaps or data loss at handover. It’s easy to see how technology can offer a simple solution to today’s most complex field engineering challenges.
To learn more about how InEight’s integrated portfolio of project management tools can help you facilitate communication, achieve resource alignment, and ensure overall project certainty, visit InEight.com.