Mobile Apps and Increased Facility Management Productivity

01/25/2013 | By Janelle Penny

Affordable apps and mobile devices: the newest addition to your toolbox

Doing more with less. Sound familiar? It’s a common theme in facilities management.

But the growing acceptance of handheld mobile devices as business tools could lessen the pressure of that demand for higher productivity with less funding. How?

There are hundreds of thousands of apps at your fingertips – many free or low-cost – designed to help you save time, gather data quickly, and communicate effectively.

“We’ve seen a growing trend within the FM industry over the last 24 to 36 months whereby FMs are increasingly relying on mobile devices for day-to-day activities,” notes John Garrett, president and CEO of Facilities Management Advisors, a consulting firm for facilities, operations and maintenance, and corporate real estate. “They need to be able to more effectively multitask and manage communications and workloads on the fly.”

Can a mobile device and a suite of apps improve your performance? See what’s available and compare it to your business.

Building the Mobile Workplace
Changing attitudes have fueled the growth of mobile technology. Tablets have been around in some form for roughly 20 years, but didn’t gain wide acceptance until the iPad was released. Now they’re increasingly used for all facets of business.

“Mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones empower employees by increasing control and choice over the way they work,” explains Garrett. “Work demands require that employees be highly nimble, productive, and able to communicate in real-time.”

Top 5 Tablets and Smartphones

Led by principal investigator Jeffery Campbell, a Brigham Young University research team field-tested many models of smartphones and tablets for FM and general use. As of January 2013, these are the team’s five top-ranked devices on the market.

-Samsung Galaxy S III
-Apple iPhone 5
-Motorola Droid Razr Maxx
-HTC One X
-Samsung Galaxy Note

10-Inch Tablets
-Asus Transformer Pad TF300T
-Apple iPad 3
-Toshiba Excite
-Samsung Galaxy Tab 2
-Lenovo Think Pad

* No 7-inch tablets were evaluated for the ranking because the team found them too small for business use.


Facilities professionals can benefit from these devices’ portability and ease of communication while in the field. But which devices can best benefit FM? A research team from Brigham Young University (BYU) aims to answer that question through field testing and extensive interviews with facilities and construction professionals.

Handheld device adoption is still low in this industry, but is poised to grow, says principal investigator Jeffery Campbell, who also serves as chair of facility and property management at BYU.

“When new technology comes along, it’s always treated first like a novelty, and we’re seeing that happening now with personal devices,” notes Campbell. “The biggest challenge we have right now is that these devices are viewed as toys and time-wasters. We have in our hands some extremely powerful tools, and probably 95% of workers out there really don’t understand what they have.”

Top Devices
While the decision to integrate handheld device technology into your FM practices seems easy, the nuts and bolts of that decision are anything but. It’s not as simple as heading to an electronics store and buying the most familiar technology.

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