By BUILDER Magazine Staff. Punchlist software usually runs on a hand-held PDA. The new Punchlister differs in that it requires a tablet PC running Windows 2000. Whether that's a pro or con depends on which machine you prefer. However, we did find its interface simpler to use than the Palm applications we've tried. The interface looks like a paper punchlist, and we were operating it comfortably after a few minutes. Working with it is simply a matter of using the tablet computer's stylus to check off items as complete or not complete. You can also attach notes to any item you want.
Setup is a matter of defining punchlist items and organizing them into units. Once in the field, Punchlister makes you complete every item in a unit (whether you mark it complete or incomplete) before moving on to the next one--a feature designed to discourage shortcuts. This feature also makes it a good idea to create units that can be completed in 15 minutes or less.
Once the job is done, you can transfer the data electronically to the office computer via e-mail, then sort it in a number of different ways--by subcontractor, job, unit, etc. You can also run reports that show notes taken in the field.
The software is available from EK Solutions in New York (www.eksolutions.com)--a company that specializes in relational databases. For $7,500, you get the server software and a client license for one handheld; additional hand-held licenses cost $1,500. EK also sells several models of tablet computers, from a $1,750 ViewSonic View Pad 1000 (www.viewsonic.com) to a $5,295 GeneSys II from Xplore Technologies (www.xploretech.com), a ruggedized model designed for the jobsite.
One drawback: The software doesn't yet integrate with any other programs. But EK partner Ali Arsan says the company will add that capability if it gets enough customer requests. (Punchlister is based on a Microsoft SQL database, so it should be relatively easy for a third-party developer to integrate it with other SQL-based programs, including SureTrak, Primavera Expedition, and Meridian Prolog.) EK is also developing more modules. It has already completed one for warranty work; soon, another module will let users attach photos to line items.