By: Rhonda Wessel Recently, I have had the opportunity to introduce my colleagues to something new. A new electronic way to gather information that is quicker, better, and more accurate. After years of doing equipment and furniture inventories the old fashioned / manual way of using paper, pen and a tape measure, I had always wondered if there was an easier faster way of inventorying furniture, lab equipment, and medical equipment. I have learned in the last couple of years that “yes” there is a better, faster, easier way. Most of us as designers (when we set out to do an inventory of furniture or equipment), forge ahead with a space plan, pen/pencil, tape measure, tags and almost always with another co-worker depending on the size of the project. One designer writes down the information while the other one takes measurements. Once that part is complete, next comes the task of data entry and if you’re inventorying a large lab space or miles of furniture, then it can take several hours or days to enter all of that gathered information. Most of us take this information and generate a well-organized spreadsheet to distribute to the customer and vendors involved in getting the project completed. So, how do we find a way to make part of this task easier, cost effective, and save time by producing the same product as before? By using the technology that is available to us today, almost everyone has a smart phone, and/or an iPad or a version of an iPad and laptops that seem to me more common than a PC in most work environments. With the use of more mobile devices, we can do almost anything to help make our jobs easier and a little bit faster. In fact, we have recently introduced our own accuPRO method of electronically conducting inventories, in a once and done and more accurate fashion. As technology has advanced, we as designers must also adapt and change with it. How do we make those changes in the way we do our daily tasks? Sometimes it’s easier said than done and advancing with technology also has a monetary value to it. We look at what is priority and how can we provide a more accurate product and a cost effective service to our customers. Is this worth the investment and will it truly provide a cost savings to our customers? We already use Autocad to generate drawings and other computer aided design tools. How do we get that information to put into Autocad or program of choice by using the old fashion way of field measuring and inventorying the existing spaces? In today’s world of advancing technology, there are thousands of programs that can assist us with daily tasks. We’ve all heard the phrase “There’s an app for that.” You might even hear “old schoolers” say, “Well, there is the downside to using technology to complete some of these tasks, so we will just stick with the old tried and true way of pen and paper.” I agree using technology does sometimes have its draw backs like the server crashes and you can’t work. Yes, then you will need to go back to using pen and paper in order to get the job done. However, here is my biggest pro for using technology during inventories of any type. When we work in teams of two or more to gather the information, we are each writing or sketching on plans. When we are done one person from that team usually ends up inputting the information. If the person has trouble reading someone else’s handwriting then there is room for error and we have to stop and ask that person what they wrote or make assumptions that could be costly. By using the technology and tools that are available today, we can decrease those kinds of errors greatly. If today’s technology provides us with a more efficient and almost error proof way of doing a job, then why not use it? Maybe I am somewhat of a tech geek and since I have started using an iPhone and an iPad for various business needs on a personal and professional level, I have become a big fan. If I can help provide a design service or product by using these tools to create something in a more timely manner and create a cost savings for them, then I am all for it. To learn more about the accuPro tool, please contact IDO Incorporated.