The fairytale hero in Fieldbook — written with and for surveyorsOctober 26th, 2020
The story of Fieldbook
To say that all of us here at Total Synergy are excited about the Fieldbook add-on and app is a large understatement. We’re really, really excited about it. It could even be said that we’re more excited about Fieldbook than Zuck was about that other F-book. It can definitely be said that we talked to more people, picked the brains of more potential users, and consulted more custodians of built environment practice than Zuck. Hence the excitement.
The story of Synergy Fieldbook actually began with the requests of our bright-thinking, sharp-minded, excellent-taste-having, professionally-impressive customers. It was a twinkle in the collective eye of their surveying need. A Fairytale beginning, if you ask us.
The problem was
The problem was that the practice managers across the AEC land really liked Synergy, and they really wanted Synergy. That doesn’t sound like a problem, you’re right. But some of our built environment buddies are surveying companies. Also not a problem, because #WeLoveSurveyors. However, they have a lot of people in the field and it’s difficult to fill out a desktop kind of application in the field. Now, I hear you yelling that Synergy totally works on a phone — and you’re right again, of course. But here’s the rub that our surveying friends found — the layout wasn’t as focused and convenient to use on a phone for the kind of work they were doing.
The problem presented to us was, “We really like Synergy, as directors and managers. The people in the office really, really like synergy. We just wish that the people who are working in the field liked it as much as everybody else.” … And we said, “We can help you with that.” And we did.
How we built Fieldbook to answer your problem
The first part of the process was to ask ourselves some questions. We sat down and thought, “Okay, let’s have a think about how surveyors work. What’s different about the way they work? What are they doing? — If we gave them an app in their hand, what is it they’d like to be able to do?”
The answer came down to this story:
There’s a surveyor in a truck with surveying mates and they go out to a site. Let’s imagine you’re that suryeyor. The first thing you want to know is, ‘which site do I have to go to?’ So, we give you the list of all the jobs that you have to do in the order of due date — then you can work out which ones you want to go to in what order.You click on one and you get an option to click on the map and it’ll give you directions to get there if you don’t know how to get there.
Then, when you open the Fieldbook app, it comes up with a timer. You click that timer button to say, ‘I’ve arrived’. And when you leave the building site, you click a button to say ‘I’m leaving’. Now, Fieldbook knows where you are (based on the activity that you’ve opened up that’s linked to a task on your timesheets) so it will fill your timesheets in to say you were on that building site for that period of time. Two clicks and it fills out your timesheets for you. We know, that’s awesome.
The story of the field team hero, Fieldbook
Now the other thing is the same group of surveyors — senior surveyors and a couple of juniors — jump into a truck and go out to Dubbo to go and do a job. They’ve all got to fill out their timesheets with exactly the same job, which is repetitive and boring. It means four people just did the same thing over and over. But it also makes a big management overhead for the accounts clerks. If it’s a team of four, the person in accounts has to look on four separate timesheets for that date and make sure they all put the same job on the same day with the same number of hours, which is really tedious.
So, what did we do? In the app, there’s a team builder where you say, ‘I’m on this job and these are the people who are here with me.’ Then when you save the timesheet, Fieldbook writes the timesheet records back to all of those people’s timesheets in Synergy, in one go. So, if you work with a team, your team no longer have to fill out timesheets. As long as they’re working with you, when you log your timesheets, you’ll be logging them for your team as well.
Because we asked you and you reassured us that nobody wants to do timesheets. Nobody.
Then Fieldbook went even further to support fieldwork
On top of those heroic app features, we thought, ‘let’s throw in a couple of other things to make your life easier.’ We’re good like that! So, we added in ‘consumables’. If you go back to being that surveyor, while you’re on site you’ll use things like pegs. When you use pegs, you can log how many of them you use to peg out the site — and we don’t have to tell you, that can be a lot of pegs.
Now, you might only be recording peg usage so that you can restock your truck. Or it might be a record so you can put the peg expense against the project you used them on and factor that in the profitability of the job. Or it could even be a record because you’re going to charge the customer for pegs — most people don’t bother with that last one, but maybe they don’t bother because they haven’t got a good record and if they’ve got a good record, maybe they can make some more money?! Just spitballing here. All that aside, we’ve made it easier for you and your team to log that kind of consumable and equipment use.
The climactic car chase
Everyone loves a good car scene, so we’ve added mileage to Synergy Fieldbook. If you’re using your car or the company vehicle, you can log that. If it’s your car the record is created because you want a reimbursement. If it’s the company vehicle, it’s because they want to track the cost of the vehicle against the site and also who had the vehicle on a particular day in case it went through a speed camera, or if it’s involved in an accident or something like that. It’s just good management. We’re in no way condoning car chases here.
Happily ever after with Fieldbook
With Fieldbook we’ve made a nice little app that collects up only the features of Synergy that are relevant to the person who’s on the building site. We’ve reorganized the user interface such that it presents the information in a more streamlined way, tailored to the the needs you have of Synergy when you’re in the field.
Fieldbook doesn’t really change any of the features of Synergy. It’s the same features, but they’re just wrapped up in a way that makes it much more convenient in that working story.
We’re calling it an ‘add-on’ — an add-on that is delivered as a mobile app. You’ll probably call it your hero. And that’s perfectly fine with us. We made this hero in order to give you #MoreTimeForSurveying. The end.