A guide to construction reports and reporting
In the construction industry, there are numerous items that a project team needs to be aware of on a daily basis. While everyone can share this information by word of mouth or multiple emails, there is an easier way.
The most successful construction companies choose to generate different reports that share all the information that is needed so the work can continue on schedule and on budget.
These reports used to be handed out in paper form and then emailed to everyone involved in the project. However, in recent years, as technology has advanced, everyone can simply click on a programme and have all the filed reports at their fingertips.
This means that everyone can easily refer back to other reports wherever they are and stay current with information that is shared throughout the workday. Digital reporting can take a serious administrative and mental burden off those in charge, such as foremen, project leaders, and project architects.
What is field reporting?
Reporting from the field isn’t normally a one-man job. Typically, almost everyone on the ground is part of the reporting process. It can’t be different if we take into account that all tasks and activities on the site are closely connected to each other. The slightest delay in one task can have a serious impact on the budget and the timeframe of the entire project.
Without a doubt, field reporting is one of the main pillars for the success of every project in construction. Through this process, the people on site have full visibility and a good understanding of what needs to be done.
Nevertheless, the way progress is documented plays a substantial role. Traditional reporting requires a lot of time and resources on a day-to-day basis. It’s a serious administrative load which can hinder productivity.
Furthermore, the way these reports are shared with the rest of the team is also essential. The use of Excel and Word was a good option around ten years ago but today in most cases it can generate major problems.
The reason is that everyone is working on an isolated way and as a result, the different stakeholders of the projects are unable to remain on top of the field reporting process. This can create costly misunderstandings and project delays.
This is where the importance of dashboards that can be updated in real time becomes apparent. In a nutshell, dashboards give management an overview to monitor progress and efficiency of the project managers and subcontractors on site.
What is a construction report?
There are many different types of construction reports which cover a wide spectrum of activities and tasks both on the site and the office. Some of the most common construction report categories could be summarised to the following:
Trend reports are widely used in the construction industry. They offer the latest status on different building construction types and analyse if their importance in the market is going up or decreasing.
Typically, this type of reports is produced on an annual basis in order to help stakeholders in the sector get a good overview of the latest market trends and changes.
For example, a report on the latest trends in office buildings can offer useful information with regard to what facilities and comforts should an office provide to the people working in it. Like that, newly built structures can meet the actual needs of those who will eventually make use of them.
Thanks to the digital transformation of the sector, new materials are disrupting the construction process in the course of the last few years. Construction companies rely on material reports in an effort to stay up-to-date with the latest changes and boost productivity and building quality.
To acquire such reports, contractors might purchase or enroll in organisations/services which create such market reports coupled with the benefits of each new material.
Cost reports are substantial for every construction project. They are always used during the bid stage of a project in order to offer an accurate cost estimation concerning the workforce and the materials that will be used.
Normally, a cost report is put together by the contractor and it is built according to the design that the client has presented. Architects can also be involved in the creation of a cost report in cases where the client requests architectural designs to be included in it.
What is a construction progress report?
One of the most popular construction reports is the construction progress report, also known as daily report, and it is critical for the success of every project.
These reports normally contain field notes and a list of activities that were accomplished each day. As soon as construction progress reports are shared, everyone involved with the project will be aware of where things stand and what still needs to be completed.
Things move quickly within the construction industry and there are times where those in charge feel like there are not enough hours in the day to write daily reports. In those cases, a person may try to turn the daily reports into weekly reports, but that can be catastrophic for the outcome of a project as it can cause too many issues and there are certain things that can be forgotten.
It is no exaggeration to claim that daily reporting is a must-have for every construction project and the only way to a cost and time-efficient building process. But for that to happen, a more digital approach is required.
For instance, creating reports manually or in Word-format can be extremely time-consuming and frustrating. All information and pictures should fit in the designated space and there is a certain template that should be used. This takes a lot of work and you still don’t know whether all stakeholders take a look at it.
That is something that can be tackled through the use of a digital tool that allows real-time updates. Working with updated programmes and accurate progress reports will lead to smart and data-driven decisions.
In that sense, digital report generation adds considerable value to your construction site projects. Easily and quickly you can produce your customised site reports directly on the field.
The customisation of your construction progress reports can play a decisive role in boosting your credibility. As a rule, there are many different stakeholders involved in a construction project.
That being said, delivering to them an adapted version of the report with the information they need can get you a long way. And most important, it can minimise the room for mistakes as the project develops.
How do you prepare a field report in construction?
In the previous paragraphs, we explained the different functions of a construction report and we dived into the role of a construction progress report. Now it is time to take a closer look at the information that should be a part of it.
Thankfully, there is a list of what needs to be included in these reports, so once a person has the basic guidelines memorised, they can easily fill in the blanks of what occurred on any given day.
Here are the 10 things that must be included on every daily report:
- Date: The date that the information pertains to, which should also be the date that the report is written and submitted.
- Weather conditions: The weather conditions for that day, as it will show why certain tasks weren’t completed or why everyone left the job site early or arrived late.
- The condition of the construction site: The physical conditions of the job site, which may have affected how much work got done on that day.
- Overview of resources: The resources that were available and unavailable on that day. This list may include employees, equipment, and materials.
- Type and status for the job performed on the field: The work that was performed and the status for each job.
- List of disruptions/delays: A list of any disruptions or delays that occurred on that day.
- Inventory checklist: The inventory checklist that will show what is in stock and what may be arriving later than planned.
- Upcoming risks: The potential risks for future delays, so that everyone can work to avoid these problems.
- Safety and environment-related issues: Any incidents that occurred, whether safety-related or environment related. The employees’ name, as well as specific details and photos, should also be included.
- Additional notes and comments: There may be days when additional notes or comments may be necessary, and they should be included at the end if they do not fit in any of the other categories.
Why construction reports are important?
Leaving any of that information out of the daily report, or choosing to skip a daily field report here and there, can wreak havoc on any project. A missing report may make workers unaware of when they need to be available or it can cause a specific job on the site to go unfinished because no one is aware that the work hasn’t been completed yet.
Daily reports can also be useful at the end of the project if the owner has an issue and wants to go to court over something that was or wasn’t done. These notes can prove that everything was done as it should be, leaving no unanswered questions.
Missing reports will show that maybe the construction company was at fault and they can be held liable in those cases because they do not have any proof. Again, that’s a good reason to turn your reporting process digital ensuring that no information is lost and that there is an objective source of truth for everything that took place on the field.
As far as the other types of reports that are required within the construction industry, their production frequency is much lower and they don’t need to be completed and sent out on a daily basis.
Nevertheless, those reports are just as important as the daily reports, so it may be necessary to make changes and additions to them every couple of days so that nothing gets forgotten or left out.
Forgetting one small thing in this line of work can make the difference between staying on budget and making a profit and going over budget and ending up in debt. Every construction company wants the former, as they are in business to make money. However, on occasion, the latter does occur, and companies end up losing more than they gain due to problems that could have potentially been avoided if they had paid more attention to their reports.
Must-haves for data-driven reporting
By now it is clear that construction needs to digitalise its reporting process in order to coordinate field teams better and pave the way for a less error-prone sector. In a nutshell, here are some of the most crucial elements for data-driven reporting:
Generation and sharing of construction reports
Being able to generate a detailed and intuitive report in a simple and fast manner is vital. With the help of a reliable digital tool, you should be able to create a new PDF report and share it with your team in real time.
For instance, by using LetsBuild you can add photos, comments and information about the weather in order to give an in-depth understanding of why things happened and when.
Timing is also very crucial in construction projects, so ideally you want to use a tool that will allow you to filter information based on specific periods and generate field reports accordingly. Like that, you can easily keep track of your project’s progress and ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Clear accountability through audit trail reports
Getting a fully transparent view of accountability across your project at any time is of paramount importance. For data-driven reporting, you need a digital tool that is able to automatically store all data and the latest changes on them. In addition, it should be easy for project managers to retrieve all these valuable pieces of information when that’s necessary.
In that way, the project team will never have to wonder who did what and can feel safe that photos, videos, comments, progress reports and date changes are all logged by the system. Here is an example of how an audit trail could look like:
Weather is an integral part of the construction process and it can completely turn around the planning of a project. That’s why it is important to have weather reports included in your reporting process.
By using an intuitive digital solution, a team would be able to receive real-time weather updates based on the location of the project. This would allow for efficient weather logging and smarter planning. Below you can find an example of a weather report in LetsBuild:
Automatic daily logs and site diary
The ability to record automatically all crucial project information can help project managers to maintain their daily logs and site diary up-to-date while getting rid of paperwork. This can lead to both time and space savings.
Better communication and collaboration on the field is another vital benefit of automatic daily logs, as it will be easier for site managers and superintendents to connect and exchange updates.
Projects differ from one to the other and by extension, the reporting process differs, too. Therefore, being able to fully customise your reports and build them according to your project needs is powerful.
For example, in LetsBuild’s platform project managers can use advanced report filters to find and include in their report only the data that they need. Moreover, the creation and saving of report templates can save the project team precious team every time they are in need of a new construction report.
Back to you!
But now, back to you! What are the main challenges that you battle against during the reporting process? Do you see digital solutions as a game-changer for the construction industry when it comes to creating and sharing construction reports with the other stakeholders in a project?