Michael Snare and Brendan Bilston are principals of Point Project Management, a Canberra-based project-management consultancy with clients like Qantas and the Department of Defence. The firm mobilised its team with HP iPaq personal digital assistants back in 2006 and then upgraded staff to iPhones last year.
Why is better communications important to you?
Point is relatively light as an organisation, and staff need to be able to communicate anywhere, any time. We make ourselves available and contactable by clients at any time.
How did you decide which smartphones to purchase?
We looked at iPhone, BlackBerry, Nokia, and HTC. But we saw the BlackBerry’s software and integration as a limitation, and there were other benefits around the iPhone that we could provide to staff as part of the deal: some want to access personal music libraries, for example, and we thought the iPhone would satisfy personal as well as business needs.
What do you do with them?
Smartphones let us access email and review documentation embedded in emails while we’re in the field. This lets us get to information very quickly, and keep the information cycle moving even whilst we’re not at our desks. For example, I could be at a café during a meeting and receive an email with a design on it; the designers might just need to ask me a quick question, and I can look at the drawing and make a determination on the spot.
How much has this helped your employees?
We would put a time multiplier of about three to four in terms of the efficiency and speed that smartphones have enabled us to have, compared to working without this technology. Guys can be on-site, obtain information in real time, make decisions and provide context extremely quickly.
What else do you access using your smartphones?
We use them to take photos and provide real-time status of projects for the client. We can also securely access our intranet and the entire folder structure of the information in our business. Staff can access applications, update timesheet information, get documents, or get information to someone else. It’s almost a window into our actual office IT infrastructure.
Are your staff using many smartphone apps?
We’ve given staff a lot of freedom around apps and the benefits they find from them. One guy uses Bria, which lets him access our Voice Over IP phone system from the iPhone. Frequent travellers use the Qantas app to check flight information and boarding times. Others use Wyse PocketCloud to store information online and let other users get to it. Apps on smartphones are just endless. The challenging thing is to determine what the business need is first, before looking at the apps, and then act on it as needed.