How Do You Use Technology To Make Your Job Easier?

I confess to being a bit of a technology junkie. I think it was around 1995 when I first overcame my fears and cracked open my computer case, installed a new hard drive and upgraded to an enormous 8 megabytes of RAM. While I still enjoy building my own home computer every now and then, it seems like keeping up with technology is a full-time job. For every new website or app, you can expect two or three more just like it to follow. Trying to filter through all of that information to find what’s useful to your specific job, process or project can be impossible.

I’ve found it’s usually best to let the need dictate the technology, versus the other way around. When I was designing buildings, contractor sketches or descriptions of field issues were often not clear (especially the ones that had been faxed 5 times!). Sometimes we could figure it out with several phone calls, but other situations would require a field visit. A photograph would work, but developing film and sending the photos would take too long. The development of inexpensive digital cameras so field questions could be e-mailed with photos really streamlined my process for responding to field issues.

Jobsite photos are done on smartphones now since they are in our pockets and you don’t need a computer to send them. I never did have a contractor send a request for information via text message, though.

Many of our salespeople here at Simpson Strong-Tie are now using iPads in the field. This enables them faster access to the information they need, in a much more compact, easier-to-use format. In this way, the improved technology has also improved our business.

We are also striving to do the same for our customers. We recently released a couple of new mobile apps to help customers get the information they need quickly and easily while on the go. Our new Dealer Locator mobile app enables you to find Simpson Strong-Tie dealers by zip code and map or contact them with a few clicks.

The new Literature Library mobile app gives you access to our most popular current catalogs. The app lets you search each catalog by keyword, including product name, number or description. It also includes an interactive table of contents so you can go directly from the table to the product page with one click. You can also zoom in to view drawings and tables in detail.

As the use of technology grows, our job is to make sure we’re keeping up with that technology so our customers gain faster and easier access to save time and money.

So, how do you use technology to improve your job? Let me know in the comments.

– Paul

Paul McEntee

Author: Paul McEntee

A couple of years back we hosted a “Take your daughter or son to work day,” which was a great opportunity for our children to find out what their parents did. We had different activities for the kids to learn about careers and the importance of education in opening up career opportunities. People often ask me what I do for Simpson Strong-Tie and I sometimes laugh about how my son Ryan responded to a questionnaire he filled out that day:

Q.   What is your mom/dad's job?
A.   Goes and gets coffee and sits at his desk

Q.   What does your mom/dad actually do at work?
A.   Walks in the test lab and checks things

When I am not checking things in the lab or sitting at my desk drinking coffee, I manage Engineering Research and Development for Simpson Strong-Tie, focusing on new product development for connectors and lateral systems.

I graduated from the University of California at Berkeley and I am a licensed Civil and Structural Engineer in California. Prior to joining Simpson Strong-Tie, I worked for 10 years as a consulting structural engineer designing commercial, industrial, multi-family, mixed-use and retail projects. I was fortunate in those years to work at a great engineering firm that did a lot of everything. This allowed me to gain experience designing with wood, structural steel, concrete, concrete block and cold-formed steel as well as working on many seismic retrofits of historic unreinforced masonry buildings.