Construction has always been “mobile” by nature, with inspections, audits, site surveys, and more happening on the jobsite. Traditional methods of capturing data on site required paper and pen, and time-intensive, data-entry processes back in the office that were prone to error. The advent of mobile devices and apps has changed all this, but is it for the better?

Having an app just for the sake of having an app can cause a number of challenges. If that data is sitting in a silo and can’t be accessed by office workers, the end result could still be manual processes to transfer data from one system to another. Construction-specific technology providers recognize this and are creating new partnerships and products that allow contractors to access data on the job and share with the systems in the office.

Yesterday, Viewpoint Construction Software, www.viewpointcs.com, Portland, Ore., and MSI Data, www.msidata.com, Mequon, Wis., announced a partnership, giving customers a way to share inspection data between the office and the field.

The partnership combines MSI Data’s VEIL Mobile Inspection Software with Viewpoint V6 Software. VEIL enables inspection management for safety inspections, checklists, audits, site surveys, observations, and more, giving contractors a mobile inspection app on iOS, Android, or Windows mobile devices.

Contractors will be able to capture data and share between Viewpoint V6 Software and VEIL Mobile Inspection software, allowing users to ensure inspections are recorded and managed appropriately.

Some technology providers are going the route of partnerships, giving users the ability to share data between systems, while others are going the route of developing custom apps.

As an example, Aconex, www.aconex.com, San Bruno, Calif., announced its Aconex Field app at the end of 2012. This allows users to capture, analyze, report, communicate, and track defects and other issues on a job using a mobile device, allowing for more accurate and quick issue identification and resolution.

These are just a few examples, too. The construction-software community continues to come to market with products aimed at allowing construction companies to access and enter data on mobile devices, but construction companies will need to create strategies around how the data is managed on a jobsite and in the office.

When creating a mobile strategy, there are a number of factors to consider. For instance, is the data-collection app integrated with backoffice systems? Is the app ultimately improving process efficiencies? The focus should be on the data and getting that data into the right hands as quickly and efficiently as possible.