Daily progress reports in construction: Cutting down on the admin work

Written by LetsBuild

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What is a daily progress report in construction?

Every day is a new day on a construction site and those who are involved need to be kept in the loop of what has occurred. One of the easiest ways to do that is by filing a daily progress report.

These reports can include basic information on what was completed that day and they can also be filled with little tidbits that include issues that occurred or accidents that happened.

Daily progress reports must be filled out with accuracy so that there is a smooth flow of communication that can be referred back to in case of liability issues or legal disputes in the future.

However, progress reports might also come with a lot of admin work for project managers depending on the tools they are using in their projects. It’s not an exaggeration to say that project managers use up to 40% of their days on writing reports, jumping from one meeting to another, and chasing people around the site for updates.

It doesn’t take much to understand that working under such circumstances can have a direct impact on the progress reporting process and cause a lot of stress and frustration to both the project manager and their teams.

That being said, a paradigm shift is required in the way construction teams communicate and connect. But for that to happen digitalisation and standardisation should be seen as priorities.

What should a daily progress report include?

While there are many disputes over what should and should not be included in a daily progress report, we have created a list of items that we think should be on each one. Like that, you facilitate the connection between the boardroom and the field and help everyone involved stay on the same page.

In a nutshell, these are the 10 items that should be included on each and every daily progress report:

  • Date: The date when the daily progress report is being written and submitted.
  • Weather conditions: An overview of the weather conditions on the site.
  • Jobsite conditions: An overview of the site conditions.
  • Resource availability: Information about the workers, equipment, and materials that might be needed that day.
  • Status on the performed work: Feedback about the work that was performed that day and the current status of the project.
  • Work disruptions or delays: Any disruptions or delays that may have affected the work that was completed that day.
  • Inventory checklist: A list of all inventory items and the upcoming material needs.
  • Risk overview: Any potential risks that may affect future workdays.
  • Accident report: A detailed explanation of any accidents that might have occurred on site that day.
  • Additional comments and notes: Any additional comments or notes that seem to have an impact on the development of the project.

3 steps to writing a progress report without drowning in admin work

By now, it’s clear that reporting progress in construction requires a lot of effort and an eye for detail. On the bright side, things could be done much more quickly and more efficiently with the right tools and strategy in place.

Read more: How to reduce admin work and endless meetings in construction

After all, the main pillars of success for any construction project are the following: people, tools, processes. Get these three right and everything will eventually work out.

Where should you begin, though, this transformational journey? Well, there is no need to worry anymore about that. Here are the three main steps you need to follow to eliminate admin work from your progress reporting:

1. Automate your reporting process

Many project managers rely still on pen and paper in order to share progress on their lookaheads, report on the latest checks, and verify whether all activities linked to the checks are addressed as they should. This approach paves the way for frequent interruptions, downtime, and in some cases disputes.

Add also COVID-19 into the mix and you get the picture why construction needs to come up with a new normal and go digital with progress reporting.

With the right tools and processes, reporting on the latest site updates should not take more than three clicks. All project teams will have the information they need the moment they need it so that they can make smart decisions quickly and avoid becoming a bottleneck during the reporting process.

2. Use digital tools that are built for construction

The automation of the progress reporting process is the first step against excessive admin workload but it’s not enough on its own. Using the right digital solutions to ensure real-time reporting and the connection between the master schedule and the 3-6 week lookahead planning is the next and possibly most decisive step.

Free ebook: Why you can’t run complex construction projects with WhatsApp and Excel

Many project managers rely on tools like WhatsApp and Excel for their daily progress reporting thinking that they are good enough for the job they are asked to perform. Unfortunately, that’s a very dangerous path to take.

These tools might be perfect for our personal lives but they can’t support complex projects and ensure that the latest version of the construction programme reflects reality. On the contrary, they encourage siloed communication as the data shared through them lacks the connection to both the master and short-term schedule leading to miscommunication and serious mistakes.

3. Standardise your systems and processes

Many think that every construction project is a completely different universe with different goals and strategies. But that’s not correct. Regardless of the project’s type, 80% of all construction processes are always the same and are supported by the same dependencies.

That being said, it makes great sense for every project manager to standardise their systems and processes so that there is less room for error. Project teams will always know what they are supposed to do and in what way.

Simply put, this will drastically reduce the amount of time spent on back and forths between the site and the office and will give project managers peace of mind. Accountability will also be increased as it will be easier for stakeholders to locate the source of a mistake and take the right actions.

Again, the use of the right tools is vital. Only digital solutions that are designed for the construction industry can support such initiatives in the long run.

Only 35% of the industry reports progress from the field in real-time or daily

Based on findings from the Construction Digital Maturity Ladder (CDML), it is shown that only 35% of stakeholders in construction report progress in real time (13%) or daily (22%).

It doesn’t take much to understand why construction is one of the least digitised industries and is hit by 80% project delays and an efficiency rate of 30%. Every construction project is a chain of tasks, responsibilities, and stakeholders. In that aspect, the slightest delay in a single task may lead to devastating delays for the entire project.

“Collaboration, communication, and a much more open approach to sharing of best practice are fundamental for our €10tn per year industry to take the leap ahead that it deserves,” says Ulrik Branner, Executive and Board at LetsBuild.

That is why daily progress reporting needs to become data-driven and start relying more on the right digital technologies. Like that, the sector will be able to turn digital gaps into functional demands and unravel a whole new era for construction.

Ensure project success through connected teams

Keeping your teams connected and getting them to instantly flag critical issues and follow your processes are some of the most essential components of success for all construction projects.

With that in mind, you need a construction-specific digital tool that can support your effort to reduce interruptions, streamline project communication, and make “on-time delivery” a keystone habit.