Access SharePoint on iPads

By Stephanie Blanchard, Assistant Editor — May 11, 2013

Communication is key for Consigli Construction Co., a Milford, MA. general contractor and construction management company. Letting crucial information “slip through the cracks” could result not just in loss of productivity but poses a risk to accountability. The company chose an Infragistics SharePlus/SharePoint implementation to manage the “paper trail.”

A local builder with reach throughout New England and New York, Consigli has multiple job sites at any one time. Each site’s team is comprised of construction experts, a job owner, architect and other key personnel. When dozens of simultaneous projects are online, the problem is maintaining accurate communication and documentation throughout each stage of the construction process.

With Microsoft’s collaboration software – SharePoint - the firm manages contracts, blueprints, site maps, project emails and other necessary documents. To store, sync and share information remotely, employees use enterprise-issued iPads. However, the form factor has its limitations.

“SharePoint has been a boon to Consigli’s knowledge management, but making it work for us on job sites had its shortcomings,” said Anthony Chiaradonna, Consigli CIO.

Seeking a Solution
To leverage the investment they made in Sharepoint, Consigli looked for a solution with several components. Chiaradonna wanted employees to have an application that allowed an experience more similar to a desktop. The company also needed a solution that would function even when wireless networks were minimal, as field sites often have bad internet access. In addition, the app had to be easy to use, to reduce the need for extensive training.

Infragistics designed SharePlus to improve the user experience and access to business intelligence. The vendor also applied Consigli branding to the custom-designed tool. The deployment started with the C-Suite, then rolled out to project managers, other internal departments and finally to external contacts.

A SharePoint project portal was created for every job site, so employees, whether on the road or at the office, can access all of the documents associated with the site. Construction workers can take photos and upload so headquarters can access for evaluation. They can also access designs and make annotations based on new information or client requests.

In addition, workers no longer have to email documents and drawings, which had been a security concern. (Or a potential productivity problem if attachments were inadvertenly left off and employees had to resend.) With central access, Consigli is now able to conduct paperless meetings and cut down on the need to print documents.

Each worker receives their own iPad but the views may vary, said Chiaradonna. Employees in the field, for example, only see project and documents they have access to via SharePoint. iPads are also issued to partners, along with a SharePoint license.

The iPads are protected by Griffin cases. Have any devices been damaged in the field? “Not since we’ve used the cases,” Chiaradonna replied. “Of the 400 iPads in use, only about five have been damaged and those were ones without covers. Protective covers are necessary in the field.”

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