They’re Here: Exciting Low-code Apps for the Construction Industry

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Modernize, Collaborate and Deliver Safety with Microsoft Low-code Technology

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Working with customers in the construction industry, Hitachi Solutions has created a smorgasbord of exciting low-code apps, and we continue to discover opportunities almost every week. We’re addressing process issues, site safety tracking, and streamlining subcontractor onboarding, to name a few.

Recently, our Hitachi Solutions Industry Architect, Rob George, and I joined forces with Microsoft,  our longstanding technology partner, for an eye-opening webinar that showcased many of these apps in action. For construction companies, large and small, low-code apps can be a good fit because they’re cost-effective, easy to implement, and can deliver a quick return on investment.

Why use low code?

Low-code apps are gaining popularity as a way for non-developers to solve day-to-day business problems quickly and easily, and without a computer science degree. Low-code apps are straightforward to create because they are made up of pluggable components, and in the case of Microsoft Power Apps, are built on dataverse for easy data mapping with the Dynamics 365 platform. In addition, the apps can be developed for desktop, tablet, or phone.

Low-code solutions can often start with a simple prototype that can be delivered iteratively, providing a quick gateway to production at a lower cost, and subsequent higher ROI for your business. For all these reasons, low-code apps are enabling a new population of citizen developers, called ‘makers.’

Who is a maker?

If we’re not talking about professional developers, who exactly is a maker or low-code app creator? Low-code apps are best suited for those who have extensive experience performing business tasks and often encounter the business issues they want to solve. Therefore, they usually have an in-depth understanding of the solution requirements.

As the low-code name implies, little or no manual code is required, but it’s helpful if makers have at least introductory skills in software development such as developing macros in Excel. The interface for app creation is visual, with drag-and-drop components as we described above. Tools are also available from Microsoft to make the process even easier.

Exciting low-code opportunities

Many of the construction companies we’ve worked with at Hitachi Solutions are looking to modernize their approach to safety management, and at the same time, change some long-standing behaviors amongst their teams. Using Microsoft Power Apps, we’ve created easy-to-use solutions — all available via tablet or phone — that enable safer, more streamlined experiences for employees, contractors, and customers.

Here are some examples that we demonstrated during the recent webinar:

  • Pre-work collaboration for subcontractor onboarding
  • Gated site arrival and task-based risk assessment
  • Incident logging including mobile camera and time stamp integration
  • Work completion entry and tracking via the subcontractor portal

Progressive web apps

Low-code apps aren’t the solution for every need — you might have more complex business requirements that stretch the limits of low-code apps. For example, low-code apps can be restricted by row limits, offline functionality, certain UI controls, and complex security needs.

In these cases, a progressive web app, or PWA, may be the answer. PWAs are essentially “boosted” web apps and can load and run without an internet connection. They fill a longstanding need in the construction industry where information needs to be recorded in real-time, but an internet connection isn’t available. With a PWA, the data can still be captured and synced with the back office when the connection is available.

The important thing to remember with both low-code and progressive web apps is that you need to choose the right tool for the business process or issue you are trying to solve. Sometimes a progressive web app or custom development by professional developers like those in our technology consulting practice is still the way to go.

What’s going on at Hitachi Solutions?

Our recent webinar was just a taste of all the transformative construction-related applications and functionality we’re working on with our customers at Hitachi Solutions. Be sure to check it out! You’ll be energized to start thinking about all the different ways you can easily modernize your construction processes and begin your digital transformation, one app at a time. Then, contact us. We love to talk about power apps for construction, as well as Hitachi Solutions’ broad toolkit for the construction industry, Engage for Construction.  

Our tenured industry experts have been working with construction companies for more than a decade to solve some of their most difficult issues, as well as some of the simplest. We can find a solution to help turn your project inefficiencies and expenses into opportunities for growth, increased cost savings, and productivity. All this, along with better accountability and collaboration throughout your organization.