The construction industry has always been mobile, requiring access to time, equipment, and production data at the jobsite. In years’ past, this has been done manually, writing down critical pieces of information and driving or mailing this back to the office. But with advances in technology, contractors can now jot notes down on a tablet or smartphone and share this with the office instantly.

More and more, technology providers are coming to market with mobile solutions for the construction industry. As one example, Viewpoint Construction Software, www.viewpointcs.com, Portland, Ore., announced the release of Viewpoint Mobile Field Manager, which will allow users to capture time, equipment usage, and production data on mobile devices and share with the office.

Users can access data via a Windows client, a Web client, or a mobile client, which is available for both Android and iOS platforms.

The benefits are clear: reducing paper required in the field, minimizing duplicate data entry, fewer rekeying errors, and overall efficiency improvements. Key to the functionality is the ability to input data either online or offline in the Windows and mobile client—a feature that the company says was directly impacted from customers.

“We went out and did focus groups with the current Viewpoint customer base, along with some interactions with non-Viewpoint customers as well, asking them what their highest priority needs are from a mobile solution in terms of feature functionality,” says Jeremy Larsen, product manager, Viewpoint Construction Software. “Disconnected was a must-have. … If I am somewhere working on a remote job or in a basement or someplace that does not have access to an Internet connection, we still have to be able to capture productivity, time, and equipment information.”

In addition to the disconnected capability, Larsen also says some key takeaways from the focus group were that users wanted an application that is easy to use and provides seamless integration to backoffice solutions.

In order to develop Mobile Field Manager, Viewpoint Construction Software worked with ACS Connect, www.acs-connect.com, Brandon, Fla. While Viewpoint will sell, support, and market the solution, Larsen says ACS is going to help execute its roadmap.

For construction companies that are looking to take IT to the field, Larsen has a few suggestions: Listen to the needs of the workforce and consider a phased approach to implementation, pushing it out to superintendents and foreman first and then field workers.

With mobile solutions, a challenge can be selecting the right applications that will continue to evolve as devices and emerging technologies change. For example, with the impending release of Windows 8, some construction companies are waiting in the wings before driving forward mobile strategies.

“Windows 8 is right on the horizon, and we are certainly gearing up for that as well,” says Larsen. “We have also talked to several construction shops that … are waiting until Windows 8 comes out because they have positioned themselves as a Windows shop. We will be prepared when that happens as well.”

Implementing mobile solutions can be a daunting task, but with a phased approach and an understanding of the products on the market today—and the ones coming down the pipeline—contractors can be prepared to take tech to the field in the most efficient ways possible.