There is a common misconception in the construction industry that subcontractors are behind the times when it comes to staying current with the latest innovations, especially on the technology front. But in reality, nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact, at Rosendin Electric, we truly believe that technology helps level the playing field. With the right technology, even the smallest electrical contractors can compete effectively with the big boys. Technology improves efficiency and expands capabilities — whether it’s on the job site or in the back office.

You should always look for new and creative ways to apply technical solutions to increase operating efficiencies, improve safety, cut costs, and reduce your carbon footprint. On the job site, for example, some of the latest mobile technologies have revolutionized the way we manage projects at Rosendin Electric. Field personnel are now equipped with handheld devices, such as smart phones or tablet computers, to access information needed to perform their work more efficiently and effectively. Rather than having to carry stacks of papers, blueprints, and specs when performing functions at the job site, these workers now have access to everything they need remotely.

What’s great about this new type of mobile strategy is that you can deploy it using off-the-shelf consumer technology, and mobile devices are not expensive. You can buy iPhones, iPads, Android phones, and tablet PCs from any consumer electronics store. This type of equipment is easy to acquire, and there is little training required to master its use.

Along with embracing the “consumerization” model of mobile technology, you should also leverage some great “point of construction” software applications to give your field personnel functionality, which inevitably results in significant time savings and increased efficiencies. These latest software applications operate in an “untethered” mode, allowing field folks to work without an active Internet connection. For example, we’ve given our employees the ability to access their email, back-office business applications, the corporate intranet, and whatever else they might need using these mobile devices — just as though they were sitting at their desks in the office. From an integration perspective, this approach is not particularly complex. However, it can definitely put you one step ahead of the competition.

Using Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) X.12 standards and leveraging Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) / Business Process Execution Language (BPEL) allows you to automate your “procure-to-pay” processes. This should result in greater efficiencies in ordering, deliveries, invoicing, and payments as well as the elimination of overhead and errors associated with paper processes. Switching to EDI processes will also save you time and money, make you more competitive on the bidding front, and ultimately make you a “greener” company. In addition to implementing these automated processes at Rosendin Electric, we’ve extended them to manage our in-house benefits program, making it easier for employees to access and process health insurance and benefits paperwork. The result is greater efficiency and greater cost savings, not to mention happier, healthier, and more productive employees.

The bottom line is technology can help you be more competitive from start to finish. Use wireless technology to make your team more efficient and better connected in the field. Harness technology to manage benefits and in-house tasks. By adopting a forward-thinking business approach, you’ll not only have more satisfied employees, but also increase efficiency in the process.

Just as electrical engineers need the right tools in their toolbox to design a great project, you should also provide your other team members with the right technology to maximize their productivity and make their jobs easier. In the end, innovation supported by technology can give you an advantage that is hard to beat.

Lamonica is CIO of Rosendin Electric, headquartered in San Jose, Calif. He was recently named to IDG’s Computerworld list of the Computerworld Premier 100 IT Leaders for 2012.

We hope the thoughts in this column spark your interest enough to respond. You can do so via the commenting tool on our website. Visit www.ecmweb.com today, search by the title or author name above, and use the “Add New Comment” box at the bottom of the article to share your views on this issue.