Attempts to Move Forward
Kelle has also been trying to modernize operations in the field, but hes doing so gradually. They have deployed an ASP hosted extranet application from AutoDesk that is called BuzzSaw and gives field people access to a wide range of construction documents, including specifications, budgets and schedules.The advantage of a server-based system is that all changes are theoretically integrated and updated, so that if one engineer needs to move a pillar two feet to the right, everyone else knows how the change may impact their part of the construction.But Kelle focuses less on the systems blueprint capabilities than he does on core business functions. "Our system will send business managers alerts when a change occurs to a cost item or a particular budget item or it impacts schedule. Critical slippages," said Amar Hanspal, an Autodesk VP. Kelle has started sending wireless Palm devicesmostly BlackBerry devicesinto the field, but its not for blueprints as much as fast communication. "It gets them used to using an electronic device for communication. It kind of gets their feet wet," he said. "The PDA screen is too small for a blueprint. Its too small to do sophisticated scheduling." Kelle is looking more toward tablet PCs and other devices larger than a palmtop and smaller than a desktop. "The PDA is OK for a small amount of information or for a quick response. Maybe approval routing," he said. "But for a lot of detailed work, youre really going to need that bigger screen. Think about who is using this. Burly construction workers, these guys dont have small fingers, to put it bluntly." Retail Center Editor Evan Schuman can be reached at Evan_Schuman@ziffdavis.com. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on technologys impact on retail.