Many organizations are already reaping the benefits of mobile inspection applications. Find out how you can too.

- Guest post from Viewpoint Development Partner, MSI Data

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Performing inspections is a constant pressure for construction crews and managers and completing accurate inspections that don’t bog down your team with stacks of paperwork and extra trips to the office can be a huge burden for companies with a million other things to worry about.

Growing competition in the service industry demands that companies improve the efficiency of all of their operations, especially regular functions like mandatory inspections. With this in mind, many contractors have already found numerous reasons to use an inspection app that lets them view job information, update checklists, and perform inspections faster and more effectively with an all-in-one mobile system.

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5 Reasons to Go with a Mobile Inspection App
1. Safety (safety first!!)—Safety inspections are some of the most important, but often the most ignored processes done in the field. In order to keep your workers safe without eating up valuable time performing ineffective and slow paper-based inspections, be sure your safety inspection process is thorough and actionable. With an inspection app everyone wins because it ensures job sites and equipment are safe while freeing technicians to perform other tasks since inspections are faster and easier.

2. Consistency—Maintaining consistency across inspections can be a real bear without standard forms and procedures. With a mobile inspection app, businesses can use standard forms for certain kinds of inspections to ensure consistency across the board. Consistent forms and steps are especially useful for organizations with technicians of varying ages and levels of experience because it mandates a standard process across the board.

3. Quality —With standard forms and guided steps, managers can rely on more quality inspections since consistency will yield quality through standardized reporting. Photo-taking, video, and signature capabilities allow technicians to capture a more complete analysis and collect more thorough and accurate information. In addition, organizations that spend less time spent on low value manual entry of paper inspections can take more to hone in on quality of work, with the photos and data to back it up. For example, managers can refer back to reports measuring the quality of Inspection Type A, which is performed 1,000 times per year and use those reports to identify trends.

4. Speed – One of the best parts of mobile inspection software is that it allows you to perform better inspections in less time by freeing your team from the shackles of paper-based inspections. Now, instead of printing forms, driving back to the main office, and reentering data, technicians can simply pull up a standard form on their mobile devices, perform an inspection, and sync it with the back office for instant accessibility across the company. With an inspection tool, companies are able to speed not only the time it takes to conduct the inspection, but also the time it takes to disperse and act on the information, which in effect speeds the ability to make important business decisions and improve operations overall.

5. Compliance—Companies performing inspections often have to comply with internal policies and procedures or external regulatory standards. Mobile apps make that part easy with preconfigured forms that don’t let you finish an inspection until it’s clear you’ve measured everything you need to comply with the set standards.

Transition Enterprise Mobile Safety Inspections into Your Company Operations
The ease of use and ability to collect more accurate and timely information make the mobile inspection clearly superior to paper-based processes. Enterprise mobile inspection apps improve the inspection process for construction companies from start to finish.

With the ability to monitor jobsite and employee safety, meet regulatory and internal standards and policies, increase productivity, and identify opportunities to sell services for defective equipment, a mobile inspection app not only makes your jobsite safer, but will allow you to do so in less time, with less effort, and with greater consistency than manual methods.

VEIL Inspection Software– Mobile Inspections, Inspection App Builder and Inspection Manager
MSI Data’s mobile inspection app, VEIL, delivers a simple solution for automating construction field inspection processes in the office and in the field, in three powerful components:

1. Mobile Inspections —VEIL’s field component is a mobile inspection application that drives both productivity and consistency with quick, step-by-step field inspections that mimic your inspection forms. Field personnel can select the appropriate job on the mobile device and input data while on-site then save that data immediately to the system; no back office personnel or extra steps required. Workers can also take advantage of native device capabilities to provide additional backup for inspections, including photos, signatures and voice to text note taking on iOS, Android, and Windows.

2. Inspection Builder — The Inspection Builder allows contractors to rapidly create inspection templates with a web-based drag and drop builder. Its inspection templates are often designed to mimic paper inspection forms or spreadsheets so they’re easy to understand and complete. Once finished, new inspection templates or updates can automatically be pushed to field workers’ mobile devices.

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3. Inspection Manager — Web-based database for safety, project management, or other personnel to view, report upon and analyze historical inspection data. Each inspection can be reviewed upon completion combined into reports that identify trends.

VEIL for Viewpoint
VEIL integrates with Viewpoint Construction Software to allow construction companies to perform safety inspections in the field without transferring data manually from Viewpoint. The integration between the two companies streamlines safety inspection procedures in order to simplify the inspection process for construction companies using Viewpoint.

MSI Data and Viewpoint are pleased to provide Viewpoint customers with this powerful new option for mobile inspections. If you’re interested in learning more about VEIL Inspection Software for Viewpoint Software, email rayt@msidata.com or call 1-262-518-7028.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The 7th annual Construction Safety Day is just around the corner, so Viewpoint took a look at the safety statistics in the construction industry.

The infographic below breaks down the most common injuries and fatality causes in each construction type, how construction compares to other industry numbers, and fatalities by state.

Construction SafetyInfographic by Viewpoint

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Construction SafetyInfographic by Viewpoint

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<img alt="Construction Safety" src="http://blog.maxwellsystems.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/construction-safety-05.jpg" width="600" height="4500" /></ br>Infographic by <a href="http://www.maxwellsystems.com">Viewpoint</a>

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Now that the New Year is in full swing, I’m sure everyone is sticking to their New Year’s resolutions, right? You’ve been to the gym every day like you promised yourself and you’re trimming away the holiday fat. Hopefully the same is happening to your business – trimming the fat during the recent recession. Now that you and your business are lean and ready to take on any challenge, you’re in good shape to evaluate the current status of you, your department, and your company. While doing that, take some time and visualize where you want to be by this time next year. What are the challenges you need to overcome?

A major challenge for many companies is finding a way to differentiate from the competition and share the advantage of those differences with customers. If you don’t differentiate your brand, you could become a commodity that’s easily out bid or replaced by other competitors. Considering the importance of differentiation, there’s no doubt that technology is still the best way to keep an edge on your competition.

Over the years, I have used technology as a primary tool to increase my speed and accuracy. Software has provided significant intangible benefits resulting in accelerated efficiency gains and increased strategic planning capabilities. As I implemented a strategy, my overall vision became clearer. The more technological improvements I made, the more new opportunities presented themselves. Like painting the ugliest room in a house, once you complete one room, other rooms become more noticeable in their need for a fresh coat of color. In the following paragraphs, I have included some key areas for you to consider as New Year Business Resolutions for 2014 – ensuring you, your department and your company can differentiate and remain competitive.

Go 100% digital by 2015
If you only do one thing this year, I recommend converting your company to 100% digital. During my years as CFO, I truly believe this simple technological improvement resulted in the greatest impact on operational efficiency. I witnessed both tangible and intangible efficiencies so dramatic that it completely shifted my view towards technology. The results were actually a catalyst for reinventing myself.

I like to query the people I talk to about their company’s shift to a digital environment. The truth is, I’m often surprised when I take a survey during some of my presentations on how few people consider their company 100% digital. I might get 2 to 3 hands raised on a good day. When I follow up by asking how many people consider their company 25% digital, I might only get a few more. In this day and age of tight competition and slim margins on projects, this continues to surprise me.

Going digital is way more than just going paperless these days. That’s why I know it’s not an easy or overnight process to become a digital company. In fact, the entire category of Enterprise Content Management (ECM) has several important areas requiring focused planning, attention, resources and consistent discipline.

Simply put, something has to give because every company in nearly every industry is experiencing information overload. With valuable business information coming at us so fast and with such volume, there’s simply no way to capture, filter and organize, and retrieve all this information using old technology and processes. People leave, important emails are deleted, documents are stored on various laptops or attached to emails, paper documents are prone to being lost, become difficult to manage and share – and frankly, could be putting your company at risk. To avoid issues down the road, your company needs an Enterprise Content Management plan and a solid ERP/Accounting solution to tie everything together. Don’t risk letting business intelligence leave your company every day – there are great ECM tools available to help.

Don’t fall into the trap of “paralysis by analysis” to justify this critical technological improvement. I speak from practical experience: Stop analyzing and start improving before it’s too late. The positive benefits your company will experience go way beyond profitability and the bottom line. Your efficiency, image and other intangibles will improve as well. I’m not a national expert on ECM solutions, but I have seen the benefits of good ECM processes and the disasters created by bad or nonexistent ones.

Workflow
Utilizing an efficient electronic workflow process in your organization has many benefits. The efficiency impact depends upon your digital ECM level as described in the previous section. If your company is at a point where it is predominantly utilizing digital documents then you have a good foundation to share, send, notify, alert, attach, request approval, etc. with an ECM or Collaboration software solution. This is the most efficient way to let every stakeholder know who is holding the baton in the workflow process. Centralizing the process documentation and placing them in the workflow, eliminates slowdowns, creates accountability and prevents lost documents.

Today’s workflow tools should be reviewed as they would be used for both internal and external workflows by all areas of your organization. It is important to understand the distinction between each solution available and whether your company needs an ECM (static data, i.e. internal company process and procedures) or a project collaboration solution (active data shared by all project stakeholders, including external). Often project collaboration software incorporates Building Information Modeling (BIM) where everyone on a particular project share the most current and up-to-date 3D plans. These days, more and more owners and government agencies are requiring collaboration software on their projects – the long term value of the captured project intelligence has proven invaluable to these organizations.

With an efficient internal and external workflow process in your organization, you will be able to clearly identify hiccups in your processes. You will also be able to research and identify the root cause of the process slowdowns. Is the issue a particular person or department, poor communication, out dated technology or just outdated processes and procedures?

Integration
Another desired request from many company executives is a way to view timely information on a simple display or dashboard. The simple reality is that without complete integration of your business intelligence and unique technology solutions, timely accurate information will be unattainable. The Accounting department will have to manually review and approve every invoice and hard keying errors will occur throughout your organization due to the lack of an integrated technology platform. Plus not being able to review data on a daily basis really puts your company at a disadvantage from an efficiency and accuracy standpoint. If your competition has implemented an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution and integrated all segments of their operation, they are clearly differentiating from your business at lightning speed. Additionally, if you’re just sticking with old technology because it’s familiar, you are doing a disservice to your organization. Things are changing rapidly and some impressive integrated ERP systems with incredible features and functionality are available to make construction firms operate smoother than ever before. Case in point: Remember the old “brick-sized” mobile phones. If you still carried one of those, everyone would laugh and wonder why you haven’t upgraded from decades-old technology. Unbelievably, many contractors are still using business software technology from the same era. There is no way that will be sustainable for much longer – an upgrade must happen or the business will crumble.

So consider evaluating your level of integration and speed of data throughout the organization. Often a simple, effective gauge is the use of too much Microsoft® Excel™ by the company. Don’t get me wrong, I love Excel. However, Excel often means your critical information is not being seen or reviewed by those who need to see the document. The spreadsheets typically aren’t integrated with whatever software solution the rest of the organization is using.

Mobile Technology
The last area I want to discuss is mobile technology. If your company has gone 100% digital, incorporating process workflow, utilizing collaboration tools, and integrating all your solutions, the value realized using mobile technology will be astronomical. There is no question that rapid expansion in mobile technology and applications has increased the usefulness of gadgets in the field. The ability to read plans, zoom in and out on details, record timesheets, enter daily logs, note safety issues, document progress, capture images, prepare and review RFIs, approve change orders, authorize invoices ,etc. is driving an increase in continued field acceptance. Incorporating all the ideas we discussed previously will allow information to be obtained from the field at any time from any location. Field teams will be able to perform research and project reviews at their convenience without waiting for a request for data and reports from the office. Mobile devices will be used as intended. To obtain business intelligence, improve communication and realize efficiencies. No more just a one way data input device from the field to the office.

In Closing

Hopefully this has sparked some good New Year Resolution ideas to accomplish by 2015. Start now and take the initiative to transport your company into the future. By the end of the year you, your department, and your company will be well on the way to differentiating from the competition.

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Contributed by Jon Wandrei, Director, Construction and Corporate Payments with EFS

For many contractors, regardless of business type, managing payables and job costing expenses can be time consuming and cumbersome if you don’t have the appropriate tools in place to help track and control expenses and pay your vendors with ease. Viewpoint customers can leverage the integration partnership with Electronic Funds Source (EFS) to help manage expenses and control purchasing with its single-card platform.

This integration with EFS allows every customer easy access to this robust EFS Construction Financial Services purchasing program which leverages the MasterCard® network. For improved control, EFS’s MasterCard® program, designed specifically for contractors, enables better efficiencies in managing fuel and company expenses on a single, consolidated platform. You can set purchasing limits by category and make changes to purchasing ability online as needed, 24/7.

Viewpoint V6 Software customers can also simplify the accounts payable process and increase efficiencies with expense reporting through the EFS Construction Financial Services electronic accounts payable and expense reporting tools. This seamless integration makes it easy to securely pay your vendors directly within Viewpoint’s V6 Software. Automation will allow customers to export and upload job information to EFS’s electronic expense reporting tool enabling you to better control costs, enhance spend visibility and streamline expense reconciliation.

TChek is now EFS

To learn how to enable the EFS Construction Financial Services purchasing and/or expense reporting program through your Viewpoint V6 Software, contact Jon Wandrei at Electronic Funds Source, jon.wandrei@tchek.com or call 612.229.8611. For more information on Electronic Funds Source, visitwww.efsllc.com.

 

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Viewpoint booth at World of Concrete, 2014I was recently reading the 2014 Market Survey completed by FMI Corporation and while a lot of the survey confirmed most of what we already knew, aging population is driving healthcare cost and in 2014 we will see a rise in the economy with cautious optimism, it also emphasized the need for contractors to strategize more than ever on how they can build a competitive edge. That is more than just looking at how to win bids, but rather how the business is going to drive profitability with each project, often by looking at organic growth through joint ventures, P3s and acquisitions.

With many of the industry’s largest tradeshow events like World of Concrete and ConExpo, taking place during the first part of the year, these events become a mecca for new products and technologies built specifically to help contractors stay competitive and increase profits among other initiatives. In fact, many of the exhibiting organizations use these events to launch new products and services for contractors. We were no different, as we launched our BIM Manager App for the Viewpoint For Project Collaboration solution at World of Concrete this past week. It was exciting to discover that this exceptional collaboration product was of great interest to most of the contractors that visited our booth.

World of Concrete 2014I was fortunate to attend World of Concrete despite the speculation going into this year’s event , that it would be sparsely attended compared to years past due to the fact that ConExpo, an event that only occurs every three years, is approaching in March and contractors may choose to attend that event instead. To add to the possible attendance woes, the eastern part of the country was experiencing a snow storm impeding travel all over the country. Speculations were valid, but glad to see that this ended up not being the case! After all, who wouldn’t want to get away from the cold weather and head to sunny and somewhat warm Vegas for the week! One area of the world that really seems to get the concept of organic growth through P3 partnership is Canada and we were excited to see so many of our Canadian contractors at the show. The major trend that we saw is that contractors are really looking at best of breed technology that can solve their specific needs, while having the ability to integrate to other best of breed technology already in place. World of Concrete 2014This means looking at standalone applications like Enterprise Content Management, Mobile Field Applications and Project Collaboration. As contractors look at their business and determine their initiatives for the year, they begin to evaluate whether core technology, such as accounting, will get them where they ultimately want to go. A lot of the contractors that I had the opportunity to speak with were less concerned about today, but rather more concerned about tomorrow and how their systems are going to be able to handle serving their long term needs. I’m noticing that as more contractors heed the advice of organizations like FMI and strive to stay competitive through joint ventures and partnerships, technologies like project collaboration become even more important.

Overall, it was a great show and exemplifies that 2014 will be a year where contractors will be working smarter to gain profitability.
Learn more on how Viewpoint can help at www.viewpointcs.com/solutions.

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