How to Create a Construction Mobile app?

A healthy construction industry is the sign of a booming economy.

In the USA, construction reached $1.23 trillion in 2017, meaning that the industry accounted for 4.3% of GDP. According to a Statista report, revenue from this industry reach $1.4 trillion in the United States by 2021. This is a phenomenal figure by all accounts.

Technology development for this industry has really stated to gather pace. A US Glass News Network report shows that 63% of construction technology start-ups are focusing on collaboration software that will improve how individuals and teams work together.

Apps like Aconex and Buildertrend are helping an increasing number of construction businesses to manage their projects.

To help those companies looking to cash in on the boom in construction apps, I will now explain how to create a construction mobile app.

Contents

Examples of construction mobile apps
Features of a construction mobile app
Development approach to building a construction app
API options for construction app development
Dealing with the construction mobile app backend
Tools for construction app development
Managing a construction app development project

Examples of construction mobile apps

While making a mobile app for a construction company, keep in mind that you will compete with established apps. This makes it imperative for you to study the design and features of the leading apps. Let‘s review some popular construction mobile apps.

Aconex

Aconex is a highly popular construction mobile app. It‘s part of Oracle. They have Android as well as iOS apps. The company boast of a suite of construction apps. They enable the tracking of construction projects from anywhere.

One can work offline, subsequently, synchronization takes place when a mobile Internet connection is available. There are advanced security features to protect confidential information. The apps enable speedy field inspection. Users can manage various data elements pertaining to quality, safety, commissioning, etc. The ability to improve communication is another plus.

Buildertrend

A very user-friendly app, Buildertrend offers many key features. They have Android and iOS apps. The apps address several functional areas, for e.g., CRM, project management, and customer account management.

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There are financial tools to manage budgets and purchase orders. Mobile touch signatures, daily site logs using voice-to-text technologies, organizing site photos are other key features.

CoConstruct

With both Android and iOS apps, CoConstruct is a key player in this market. Their app allows builders to coordinate their projects. They can communicate with their clients and the project teams. Coordinating with field and back office is possible.

Users can share files and photos concerning the project status as well as for proposals. Estimation, bidding, budgeting, forecasting, timesheet management are other key features

e-Builder

e-Builder has mobile apps for key platforms like Android and iOS. With their app, you can improve communication between field and office. Users get real-time information. The company offers a good program information management system, which is integrated within their app.

The app provides sufficient features to manage the entire lifecycle of a construction project. Users can access great reports, additionally, there is a customized dashboard. Document management, cost reporting, customized forms, workflow managers are the other key features.

Features of a construction mobile app

From the above examples of construction mobile apps, the need for providing competitive features is obvious. You need to offer the following features in a construction mobile app:

  • The app should have communication features that ease coordination between the field and the back office.
  • Real-time project information should be available in the app so that construction project managers can view the necessary details while they are on the field.
  • The app should have robust reporting capabilities.
  • Users should be able to customize the dashboard.
  • File sharing and change tracking between the back office and the PM on the field should be possible.
  • Budget management should be possible with the app. PMs should be able to enter transaction details. They should also be able to enter estimates and get forecasts.
  • A professional-looking ’User Interface‘ (UI) is important.
  • The app must support key mobile platforms like Android and iOS.
  • Construction projects are high-value, therefore, information pertaining to them is sensitive for the company. The mobile app should have strong security features.
  • Logging field reports, entering timesheets, filling up forms, and being able to attach pictures to demonstrate project status are other key features a construction PM will need from the app.

Read “The Top 9 mobile construction management apps” to know more about these features.

Development approach to building a construction app

In this article, I will focus on a custom development approach. You will need to onboard a skilled and experienced development team. The team needs to design the UI. Developers need to build the mobile app front-end.

I recommend using ’Application Programming Interfaces‘ (APIs) to address the core construction app functionalities. You will consume services by integrating APIs in your app. This saves some development effort.

To launch your mobile app quickly enough, you should consider a ’Mobile Backend as a Service‘ (MBaaS) provider. This saves the mobile backend development effort. You will not need to bother about the ongoing mobile backend management.

Since a mobile app undergoes frequent changes, the ’Agile‘ methodology is appropriate for this project. This methodology is increasingly popular for ’Systems of Engagement‘ (SoEs) development since it supports iterative development. I have earlier explained it in “How to build an Agile development team”.

API options for construction app development

While building a mobile app for a construction company, consider the following APIs. They address quite a few core functionalities, therefore, your time to develop a construction app would reduce. You will most likely need to use a combination of APIs.

API option #1: Procore API

Procore, the renowned provider of construction management software offers their APIs. Procore has a cloud-based platform for construction-related applications. The platform enables you to incorporate key construction management features.

The APIs make it easy to integrate business intelligence, analytics, and reporting features. You can integrate CRM functionalities. Estimation, project health tracking, time tracking, expense management are other features.

Another advantage of the Procore API is that if already subscribe to other platforms or products, you can easily integrate their APIs. This makes it easier to create a construction app. You can access their APIs here.

To develop using the Procore API, you need to establish a partnership with them. Contact them for a partnership here. To view the API documentation, you need to sign-up with Procore. API documentation is available on their developer portal.

Read How We Helped a Marketing Company to Build a Back-Office Custom Ads Dashboard

API option #2: Glenigan construction sales leads API

Glenigan has extensive data for construction sales leads in the UK. If you are launching your app in the UK, you can consider their APIs for sales leads. You need to research and find construction sales leads providers in other countries.

With the Glenigan APIs, you can get the following:

  • Construction sales leads;
  • Marketing data for the construction industry in the UK;
  • UK construction industry market analysis.

You need to contact them for their API documentation and pricing plans.

Construction of the app UI

The other key step when you make a construction app is to design and build the UI. There are several considerations in this step, as follows:

  • The best mobiles apps for contractors and builders have very simple mobile navigation design. This is a key principle you need to follow. Check our guide “Mobile navigation menu examples” for help.
  • Construction project managers have a stressful job since it‘s a highly complex industry. You need to make it easy for them to use your app. Mobile color schemes play a big part here. We have a guide to help you, read “8 Trends in Mobile App Color Scheme”.
  • Icons in a mobile app should help the users. A builder or contractor, dealing with large construction projects, need an easy-to-use app. Design your icons carefully, consult our guide “how to design the perfect icon for your mobile app”.

 

Dealing with construction mobile app backend

A mobile app backend encompasses multiple aspects, as follows:

  • Cloud infrastructure;
  • Database provisioning;
  • Addressing persistent storage;
  • API integration for 3rd party APIs;
  • User authentication;
  • Push notifications;
  • User management;
  • Scalability;
  • Security;
  • Analytics, to measure user engagement;
  • Provisions for monetizing the app.

You can certainly build all these in-house. A dedicated team can also be engaged to manage this on an ongoing basis. However, that’s time-consuming and costly.

Most start-ups nowadays engage an MBaaS provider for the backend. MBaaS providers address these aspects during the development, furthermore, they manage it going forward. That is a key advantage. There are many MBaaS providers. Kinvey is a good option. I have compared MBaaS providers earlier. You can check out “How to choose the best mobile backend as a service (MBaaS)?”.

Tools for construction app development

A mobile app undergoes frequent changes. If you need to manually set up the test environment every time, that will consume a lot of time. Manual test execution doesn‘t help frequent releases. You need a good test automation tool.

At the same time, frequent releases also require you to automate build management, deployment, etc. Ideally, your test automation tool should work seamlessly with your build and deployment tools. This means you need a DevOps tool suite. I recommend the IBM DevOps tools.

You will need to publish your construction app in ’Google Play‘ and ’Apple App Store‘. There are guidelines for this, which you need to know. Check out the Google Play guideline. The ’Apple App Store‘ guideline is here.

This project also needs an effective project management tool. The tool should support the Agile methodology. Asana is a good option. There are other options. I have compared several PM tools in “The 10 best Agile project management tools in 2018”, check that out.

Managing a construction app development project

An Agile project needs an appropriate technique to control and track the project. You need to use the ’Scrum‘ technique. In this technique, you will need to build a coherent but cross-functional team. The project team needs the following skills:

  • Business analysts;
  • UI/UX designers;
  • iOS and Android developers;
  • Testers;
  • A project manager (PM).

In a ’Scrum team‘, people with different skills work together as one team. The PM works as the ’Scrum master‘. You can read more about such a team in our guide “How to build a Scrum development team”.

A ’Product owner‘ (PO) provides the features for the app in a document called ’Product backlog‘. The scrum team estimates the features. Project stakeholders assign priorities against these features. These form inputs to plan ’Sprints‘, i.e., iterations. This process of planning sprints is called the ’Sprint planning meeting‘.

During the execution of a sprint, the team conducts a status meeting, and it‘s called the ’Daily stand-up meeting‘. The team discusses the project status in this meeting. The scrum master gets a grip on the project issues in this meeting and works to resolve them.

When the features have been developed and tested, the team conducts a ’Sprint review meeting‘. Here, the features are demonstrated. The project stakeholders review the features. They approve the sprint if the features meet the specifications.

The scrum technique also has a lessons-learned process. The team conducts a ’Sprint retrospective meeting‘ for this. Note that the PM should be skilled enough in modern project management methodologies. I had earlier described them in “Top 7 project management methodologies in 2018”, and you can refer to it.

The cost of building a construction app

You need to estimate the development manpower cost, which depends on your features. Kinvey publishes their price on their website, so does Asana. You need to contact IBM for the cost of their DevOps tool suite. API providers will provide you with their pricing plans when you contact them.

Since you will likely consume multiple API services, this is a complex project. You might need to engage a development partner. Check our guide “How to find the best software development company?” for due diligence.

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Aran Davies

Blockchain Expert | Developer | Writer | Photographer
Aran Davies

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