Superintendents and project managers have accepted mobile telephones as the answer to jobsite communications. But easy talk can outrun paper trails and lead to disputes and broken chains of accountability.

(Photo courtesy of Pacific Data Vision Inc.)

That was the experience of Peter Lasensky, who found himself with inadequate records to force a client to acknowledge and pay for changes he had verbally directed. So Lasensky started a company in San Diego called Pacific Datavision Inc., to launch SkyLog, a service that lets contractors use mobile phones to file time- and date-stamped notes from the field. Service is limited to southern California for now, but Lasensky is planning for expansion.

SkyLog works with Nextel phones and a one-button link to a Website where voice messages are archived as digital files. The phone can drop notes into folders for different projects. Office assistants can be automatically alerted when notes come in, so those requiring immediate processing can be transcribed into e-mail or memos right away.

Ron Rudolph, director of operations in San Diego for Turner Construction, says he recently had 15 people on the system for a complex project and it streamlined documentation. "When the superintendents got back to the office, it was waiting for them to review and sign and get out of there," he says. "I have zero reservations about it." For details see Monthly fees start at $50 for single users.