Fieldwire is a construction site management software that provides an all-in-one solution for contractors to share information, comprehensive lists of overall projects and micro-tasks needed to finish a larger project. Based on its top-down style with blueprints as a base, its most frequent use at your construction site will likely be from the home office down, but subcontractors, such as plumbers or electricians, could also find value with a subscription when managing a larger project due to its task management ability.
The following review is based on our trial run of this software.
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Fieldwire is offered in a web browser-based version and full-featured iPhone, iPad, and Android apps. This makes it easy to manage all aspects of construction from the most common desktop and mobile devices held by crew members. A Windows app is also in beta version to loop in even more tech. If your workers are on-site with their smartphones, they can easily download Fieldwire to access key tasks or daily to-dos by pulling up the plans for a particular project.
With cloud-based storage, you can keep your entire crew on the same page and have everyone working toward key deadlines in the process, from major inspections to the target completion date. On projects with a penalty for late deliveries, the importance of this cannot be understated. The ability to annotate and make suggestions for improvements with photo backup will help you avoid communication breakdowns or any potential “he-said, he-said” when something goes wrong. Some of the latest updates to the software also make it possible to leave notes for yourself on issues to follow up on in private, such as a quality control discussion with an underperforming employee.
Fieldwire is perfect for small construction business management
Fieldwire is designed for construction and project management. New projects start with the updating of specific engineering plans that are then annotated and serve as an anchor. Any key tasks and notes you add to the project will attach to the plans specified, making everything easily reviewable for approved team members.
Common examples of plans you may be uploading include building floor plans, ceiling plans, elevation plans, utility plans, lighting plans, electrical plans, and foundation plans. Basically, you can upload documents plans for any portion of the construction process and assign them to categories based on the crews that will be at your job site. You can also limit access to specific crews. Electrical can access electrical plans but does not have to access plumbing plans and vice-versa. For sensitive projects, this can help protect as much proprietary information as possible.
What’s involved with setting up Fieldwire?
Set up is super simple. If you already have an account, just log-in with your user name and password at www.fieldwire.net to access the software console. For a mobile device, such as your iPhone or Android-based phone, visit the relevant app and search for Fieldwire. The app is a free download. You then log-in with your username or password. You can create a new account on any device, and a subscription is not needed to get started.
Start a Project
After you establish a log-in, starting a new project is also incredibly easy. Just click the “New Project” button at the top of the console screen on a desktop to get rolling or the “+” sign in your app. A pop-up window on the desktop version or a new window on your portable device will ask for the project name and code if one is available. You can also clone an existing project if you are working on a larger project with repetitive smaller projects, such as a planned housing development with houses built to a handful of pre-specified plans.
The next screen asks you to upload your plans. PDFs provide the best results according to Fieldwire, and the site supports a direct import from popular sites like Dropbox, Box, Google Drive and OneDrive for business and can also import plans from a provided URL.
After this, you can upload tasks to the relevant categories. Fieldwire recommends organizing by trades or companies that will be on the site. Think broad categories like “Carpentry” or “Electrical” or specific brand names like “Smith Plumbing LLC.” You can also choose to add default categories assigned by Fieldwire. When you choose this option, the software provides an easy list to review with the option to add on at the end. Forget something? It is easy to adjust your categories in the menu bar later.
The all-in-one solution provided by Fieldwire cannot be understated. A member of the construction team in the office can easily add new tasks to project documents and categories and review progress toward completion. A trip to the site or a review by a foreman makes it possible for a remote contractor to assess photographs from the site and review any notations about problem areas, construction materials that need to be reordered or considerations for future sites. Trade people and consultants can also easily be added to the software to provide needed feedback as their work is completed.
All of this can happen in real-time. A person on-the-ground at the site can upload a picture with a smartphone or iPad for a supervisor to review. It remains attached to the appropriate category within the software for others to review as well and add notes to as needed. For documents that require specific attention from an individual, a common @person tag will help flag the item for review the next time they open Fieldwire. Any tasks assigned to a person individually also appear in a special “My Tasks” screen, and administrators can “watch tasks” belonging to other people to monitor for new information.
For construction crews embarking on repetitive projects in a housing development, shopping center or who build from common plans for certain developers, the ability to duplicate a project using the “clone” tool is a timesaving convenience.
On a second automated note, automated version control is a Fieldwire feature that keeps your entire crew on the same page — literally — or at least the same drawing. When you upload updated plans to your storage system, they automatically take the place of older plans for every user. This makes it easy for you to know every member of the crew is using the best information possible to complete their work orders. If someone needs to take a step back and assess changes, they can still review the old document in your files, but it will not be the first drawing they see.
Fieldwire is slim on related features, such as marketing and accounting. In fact, they don’t exist. However, the program does offer some features that are accounting adjacent, such as timesheet generation. Primarily though, it focuses on on-site management and interfacing with the home office. This can be problematic if you want a site tool that also provides basic expense tracking for supplies.
Blueprint management is the heart of Fieldwire’s software. From it, task management and other tools extend out. The app makes it possible for workers on site to view and edit drawings to send back to the office, and the office can make changes to send to the team on site. All workers will have access to the latest version of the blueprints and can easily track changes. Because the Automate feature automatically taps into files in your Dropbox or Box account, you do not even need to manually upload the documents to keep things up-to-date.
The drawings from the field, again. As your construction crew finishes up, a full set of as-built drawings can be exported. It includes full mark-ups as well as necessary photos, videos, and notes. Operations and maintenance at the new building can then have a complete picture of what was completed. On the risk mitigation front, you can also review detailed records of who completed what tasks where. If a problem should appear, you could then double-up inspections at any other job site with similar tasks completed by the same worker.
On a large job site, managing different tradesmen and consultants can be tedious. Keeping everyone on the same page, even more so. Fieldwire shines on the task management front by providing the ability to nest tasks with plans, review tasks as easy “to-do” sheets and break down additional information in checklists within a task. An electrician, for example, could find value in spelling out tasks from larger requirements, such as installing an electrical panel or distribution box, to smaller jobs like installing a GFCI outlet, replacing a cracked switchplate or checking for polarity in installed outlets. By breaking out tasks, particularly when a manager is offsite, you can keep employees busy and make sure the little tasks and big projects are tackled.
At the site, real-time communication is possible within the app. This helps you avoid cluttering up your text folders with business communications and keep conversations assigned to the job. This also means they can be reviewed later if a problem or discrepancy arises.
With real-time conversations, productivity can also climb because individual workers can access data on their phones or tablets to track tasks. When one job is done, they can easily see if a new task exists for them or tag a supervisor to request a new assignment. For workers assigned to a particular area, a review of the location will show jobs that need to be completed.
The ability to annotate with photos and videos also reduces the need for extensive back-and-forth chats relaying a specific problem. A visual with audio description, such as showing a cracked beam and explaining the extent of the problem, can provide additional time for solving a problem. In a few seconds, you can handle a discussion that could take several minutes to hours to resolve with texts, phone tag conversations or emails back and forth.
For construction details that need to be completed with specific timing, Fieldwire provides enhanced scheduling capabilities. You can use a Kanban priority, Gantt chart or calendar view to organize information. As work is needed, it can be dispatched to a specific contractor or sent all the way down to the crew member level.
As you do a walkthrough, Fieldwire makes it easy to do a punch list with annotations detailing problems identified. Attach a photo or video for documentation and move on to the next item until the item is assigned to a worker.
A PDF report can be generated from the punch list for digital or print-out sharing with principals. As workers resolve issues, the improvements can be easily documented for company records.
Much like the punch list, inspections are streamlined by the ability to make a quick list of things that failed or met inspection. Uploading a prefiled checklist helps keep your crew on the same page to ensure consistency across projects. After the checklist is completed at a job site with annotations, photos, and videos, the PDF summary list can be saved for sharing.
Reports and Forms
Fieldwire makes the generation of key reports and documents, such as timesheets, requests for information and more, extremely simple. You can create a new report in the software, and it will be ready for download or email as a PDF. Custom reports can be generated automatically on a scheduled basis to show progress and include photos, 360-degree photos and videos from the site. Reports can also be customized to limit access to those who need the information. When a file is created, you can choose who to share it with. A built-in file system also helps you separate documents in categories to suit your needs.
Pros and Cons
The ability to tag specific people in a conversation makes it easy to flag multiple people on a crew, including a worker and a supervisor, to ensure key components of a project are completed.
Security for personal notes and comments
Because construction projects are rarely contained in a single company, the ability to keep certain information private is necessary for your business. Fieldwire lets you assign different permissions to users to limit access to key features.
Only administrators enjoy full access, including creating new users and granting permissions. Admins upload and rename plans and assign tasks, create markups and make attachments. Only admins can verify a task.
Members can create new tasks but cannot create or delete drawings. Members can also annotate documents and add files. They can only delete files they create and only tasks without content. Members can mark a task as complete but cannot verify it as complete.
Followers can review tasks and view plans, but they cannot delete anything. They also cannot add annotations but can attach photographs for review.
If you have private notes for yourself, such as to check behind a certain trade person’s work, you can make a private note on your drawings that are only visible for you. It is a special purple color marked private on the toolbar.
Diverse checklist utilization
The ability to create checklists is a fairly standard feature within a task list, but the lists in Fieldwire can be used for specific subtasks or for various other purposes. There is not a set structure beyond the bullet point, check-off format. If you wanted to keep track of key completion dates one after the other within the task menu as well as the calendar, the checklist function can help.
Fieldwire primarily integrates with other tools that would be used to house construction documents, such as Dropbox, OneDrive and Box.
A lack of ability to specifically grant single permission upgrades to one user without upgrading to the next class of user, such as admin, project member or follower, makes changing user permissions all or nothing. This can be problematic when one employee may need to have a brief overlap with another aspect of the project.
A lack of integration with other software applications may be an impediment to super streamlined operations. However, the ability to use PDF downloads and email PDFs directly does provide some compensation as those documents can easily be attached to invoices and accounting software. Construction supervisors on the hunt for an all-in-one solution that also tracks expenses will find the program lacking.
Fieldwire provides a robust help system directly on the software screen. A pop up in the lower right-hand corner on desktop applications allows you to search for key terms and receive a list of suggested topics. For many basic functions of the software, it provides you with the overview needed to learn how to start a category or complete a task.
On smartphone screens, easy intro tutorials are accessed from the support menu, and users can watch video tutorials to get a broad overview. Quick emails to support allow you to report bugs, request features, ask questions and request a more comprehensive project demonstration. Support is also easily accessed in the desktop version via email.
Fieldwire is extremely intuitive to use on both mobile devices and desktop computers. It features a design aesthetic easily understood with convenient menus and clearly labeled features. Smartphone users will recognize the universal symbols for many tasks and adapt quickly.
Customer support: 4
Personalized customer support is a tiered feature with improved access at more costly subscription levels. All users have access to certain training tools and email for specific issues. Pro accounts, however, receive access to direct email support while business level customers receive phone support and premier accounts have an account manager.
With more streamlined integration with other software packages, Fieldwire would be slightly more robust. However, it makes up for its shortcomings in this department with easy PDF downloads and the ability to direct email in-software documents for long-term documentation needs.
Value for money: 5
Fieldwire is extremely affordable for the value it provides to construction crews and contractors. When used properly, it will easily pay for itself with increased productivity. A basic subscription with limited features is free with up to five users. Pro is $29 per user each month and provides access to reports, sheet comparisons, and unlimited sheets and projects. At the business level for $49 per user per month, 360-degree photos are added as well as automated features. Full phone support also kicks in. For $89 per month for the premier, API access starts and users have access to improved training programs and dedicated account management.