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I'm in the process of selecting a tablet but know very little about them and am unsure which apps will make my life easier. My business is run simple at the moment. I have a couple employees on payroll and do mostly exterior sub trades for contractors(67%) and homeowners(33%) of the time. I'd like to use the tablet when the phone call comes in, making an appointment, having a set schedule I can refer to. I'd also like to have it with me during the appointment to show past photos, references, possibly CAD designs if I get proficient in SketchUp, etc. It would be nice to even log employee hours on it at the end of day(instead of my day planner), but not sure if this would save me a step as I would still need to input them into my payroll provider's site at the end of the week... I currently have pre built templates on MS Word for Invoices, Estimates, etc. that would be nice to create on the tablet as well(and linking together with home computer is a MUST for efficiency).

I don't think I would be referencing it constantly during the day so it isn't necessary to have the more rugged, more expensive tablets that hold up to constant construction abuse. Mine would be in the truck the majority of the time.

I feel like more and more trades are using them on site but I don't know how to begin. Should I buy Quickbooks to tie everything together on the site, instead of at night? Should I get Cloud storage space to link the site tablet to my smartphone and home PC? Guess I'm really just looking for user experiences as no two of our businesses are identical. Maybe I could get some insight into what works for you and adapt it to my situation.
 

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I think they are ok for viewing photos and plans but for notes,appointments etc. a notebook and diary take some beating for speed, durability and convenience
Anything more complicated is better done on a laptop or at the office imo.
 

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I believe that the tablet is beneficial for anyone that is willing to take the time to learn how to use it. I have worked with many contractors that would now not live without it. It does make payroll, pictures, and calendars much easier to get to. The one advantage it has over a pen and paper is the "search" feature. You can't beat that when trying to find something on your calendar in a hurry!

I would recommend an iPad, simply due to ease of use. There's an app for anything you would need to do and it will keep everything nice and organized. I am a young guy getting in to construction management with an extensive technology background, so feel free to reach out if there are any questions I can try to help with!
 

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I agree- even being a tech guy that I am. A notebook for speed and simplicity is very hard to beat. Like most things, your in a rush, and you write chicken scratch and scratches, here and there. You should keep these, as often times sub's get confused as to what they agreed to. I like to make a list as I do the walk through, and then have them sign at the end. This way they know Im not adding work on after and said "we agreed" and they know they cant skip out on work and say "we never talked about it.".

Reporters notebooks are great- 4x8's. If you want to be a little spendy, the "project planner" are quite awesome- they have a top bar for dating and time, and project, as well as a side bar for comments, etc.

I've transitioned to using a tablet for most of these functions, but still find it somewhat slow- and mine is a pen based unit! On site where its cold, hot, dusty, too much sun, too dark, those screens can be hard to see.

Need your guy to pickup something from the store? I can rip a sheet out. Need to make sure something is done while your gone? Staple a sheet to a wall. Need your driver to do something? Tape it to the steering wheel.
 

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They are useless on the jobsite, smartphone and laptop is the way to go.
 

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We use tablets to keep track of work orders, scope of work, TimeStation Login, EVERNOTE for project notes, weather radar in the field (exterior painting),
 

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I use the an Ipad with dropbox for plans and a huge Otterbox on our bridge and dirtwork projects, I virtually never scale anything on jobs like that and its easier to manage outside then a huge roll of plans, and I can take pre existing photos quickly and ad them to progress reports and such. Mainly we just do 3-5 jobs simultaneously on the road and when we are knocking them out I have like 10 plansets in my truck and they are all covered in mud and written all over. So in the end, its nice, but I like writing my notes down and it gets left in the truck alot.
 

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We use our iPad in site to keep track of scheduling, record video onsite if necessary, take pictures, check email and communicate with clients. Smartphones and laptops are both great tools as well, so I think it is a matter of your preference.
 
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