PDA Net Still Pays

By Evan Schuman Print this article Print

The CIO picked PDAs to replace time cards and clocks as a way to improve project management and worker safety. But the new system had to meet airtight security standards.


Most of the PDAs cost about $1,550 initially, but the shipyard now buys them for about $1,350, according to Taylor. He projected that he'd be able to deliver savings in one year that would pay for the $250,000 project. He beat that goal by one month.

How? First, Todd Pacific no longer needed four data-entry clerks with an annual salary of about $45,000 each to review the work hours shown on a time card, take that information and type it into a payroll application.

Because the new system can generate electronic reports showing labor costs by project, employee, task and other factors, Todd Pacific was also able to eliminate one position in the payroll department.

A workplace such as a manufacturing plant or construction site can show a faster return on investment for mobile devices than the typical office, says Ellen Daley, a research director at Forrester Research.

Without wireless access, a worker at a manufacturing plant or construction site may have to stop what he is working on and travel several feet, yards or even more to get to a computer to record or get information—whether it's identifying workers for an assignment or digging up schematics for a project.

In contrast, "It's hard for the carpeted offices to draw a good ROI," Daley says. "How many minutes is that person saving? What are the improvements in efficiency because they can get their e-mail in a conference room?"

But those were just the hard-cost savings.

Of much greater value to Todd Pacific were improved efficiencies such as the ability to have personnel data—such as name, age, specialty, preferred hours, special skills and experience, where assigned, and expected completion for current project—available instantly, as well as having a real-time report on where all workers are supposed to be and what they're supposed to be doing.

The employee time tracking system, which was homegrown, can build a report that shows, for example, who's at work on a particular day, what specific project they are working on, and for how many hours. When it comes time to, say, bill the Navy for work on a nuclear submarine, the number of employees and time spent on the project can be generated from a report created with the employee time and assignment information collected by the PDAs.

Story Guide:
Todd Pacific: PDAs Help Keep Shipyard on Course

  • Even Hardened PDAs Were Tough to Implement
  • PDA Net Still Pays Off
  • Handhelds Replaces Time Reporting System
  • Todd Pacific Base Case

    Next page: Handhelds Replaces Time Reporting System

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    This article was originally published on 2006-03-06
    Evan Schuman is the editor of CIOInsight.com's Retail industry center. He has covered retail technology issues since 1988 for Ziff-Davis, CMP Media, IDG, Penton, Lebhar-Friedman, VNU, BusinessWeek, Business 2.0 and United Press International, among others. He can be reached by e-mail at Evan.Schuman@ziffdavisenterprise.com.
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