Home > Techs4Biz discusses role of handheld devices and PDAs

Techs4Biz discusses role of handheld devices and PDAs

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Techs4Biz develops and provides technology solutions for improving work-related activities and processes, combining software with handheld devices. Techs4Biz discusses the role of handheld devices and PDAs (personal Digital Assistant).

In recent years, the role of handheld devices and PDAs (Personal Digital Assistant) has gradually increased from ‘toys’ used by early adopters, to day-to-day tools deployed by organizations that wanted to improve staff’s productivity and minimize unnecessary administrative tasks.

According to Techs4Biz, a PDA (handheld device) can automate Building inspections and replace paper work orders. Most handheld devices operate on either the Palm Operating System (PalmOne) or Pocket PC (Microsoft), and both platforms can easily handle Building inspection and service software.

Handheld devices have to provide information that already exists on paper forms or on the desktop and at the same time improve one’s ability to access and utilize the data. Also, handheld software has to be tailored towards Building service personnel, who need to perform tasks using easy-to-use screens and functions. Furthermore, by simplifying navigation buttons and minimizing keystrokes, building contractors can learn to operate PDA software in a very short timeframe.

Handheld applications specifically designed for Building inspections, maintenance and service activities should deliver the following functionalities: List all information required by builders, engineers, inspectors, and maintenance personnel to perform their tasks, including equipment list, task list, activities, parts, instructions, etc; Provide easy to use navigation, search capabilities and quick access to information; Allow technicians to enter as much information as needed; and Automatically track labour and apply it to timesheets or project (if applicable). In addition, handheld applications should deliver   Enable technicians and inspectors to record recommendations and/or quickly create new corrective work orders; provide additional value added features such as asset tracking and audit; and Produce reports or invoices as required using portable printers.

Handheld devices can include validations that allow or disallow data entry, and can also provide the user with historical information pertaining to previous service orders or particular pieces of equipment. Furthermore, barcodes, timestamps and scanners attached to handheld devices enable quick identification of devices and equipment, identify points of entry and exit, improve efficiency, and minimize human errors.

Handheld applications should also be designed to minimize the amount of data entry and keystrokes required by incorporating a variety of techniques, starting from pick lists, through check boxes, to look-up lists and automatically generated results and shortcuts. Minimizing the amount of data entry that the end user has to perform is recommended to improve speed, accuracy, efficiency, ease of use and cost.

Finally, handheld software should be able to run on multiple hardware platforms, providing flexibility and utilization of future technology without avoidable and costly software upgrades.

The Desktop/ Database/ Server:

To maximize return-on-investment, handheld applications should not be stand-alone. Handheld applications have to be designed from the outset to collect information, display and manipulate information, and transfer information to and from a desktop or server database and back to the handheld seamlessly. The desktop/server application should provide a variety of operational and management functions including scheduling, tracking, management functions and reports, and analysis tools.

The means of data transfer between handheld devices and the database can be made through a standard cradle, wired modem, infrared, Bluetooth, Email, or wireless communications.

The benefits of combining software with PDAs to service building equipment include:
Using handheld devices in conjunction with desktop/server software will automatically transfer data from the handheld to database, without the need for further data entry or data reformulation. In addition, the use of such technology will improve operational efficiencies; Minimize unnecessary administrative tasks and data entry; increase productivity and profitability; Enable effective completion of tasks; Simplify repeatable tasks and provide staff with easy to use tools that focus on performing tasks. Also, such technology will incorporate mechanisms to focus on exceptions and ensure proper execution of tasks, including automatic listing of activities, reminders, alerts, escalation procedures, and easy access to information; ensures that service is performed according to warranties, guidelines and regulations; and improves controls and accountability leading to better quality of work.

Techs4Biz offers three simple steps for a building inspector or service provider to find the right solution. Building inspectors/service providers can accelerate the selection process and ensure that the selection would fit their needs: The three steps include determination of what the solution has to offer, evaluation of features offered by different solution providers and a comparison of them to the required needs; and determination of the best value and fit, including the evaluation of important factors such as the ability to tailor a solution to the required needs and the cost of the solution.

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