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5 Tips for Successful Visual Documentation


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Photo courtesy of forge.autodesk.com

The construction industry has come a long way when it comes to visual documentation. Mostly gone are the days of carrying point and shoot cameras and specialty video cameras to capture jobsite progress. With nearly everyone walking around with at least an 8MP camera in their pocket, there is no reason you should not have plenty of photos and video of your project.

Yet many contractors  haven’t established any standard operating procedures for documenting project progress yet.

Yet many contractors — big and small — haven’t established any standard operating procedures for documenting project progress yet. And what's more, just having visual documentation isn’t enough. To truly impact the bottom line, your GCs should consider all the ways that visual data can be used to reduce project risks, improve internal and external status reporting, bids and proposals, worker training and job-site orientations, and more.

Here are some simple tips to ensure a return on investment:

  1. Quality and Quantity – How do you know how much is enough? Start by setting key milestones to document and define goals for how many photos should be captured per day or week. Uses of software like Smartvid.io vary widely, but on average, they capture approximately 400 photos per month, per project.  

Target key milestones — concrete pours, rough-in, and pre-drywall — to document. With this process, you are documenting as-built conditions that may be covered up later in the project. Using narrated video or spherical photos creates a richer visual record and covers more square feet in less time. The goal is to have complete coverage of the project throughout its construction.

  1. A place for everything and everything in its place – We have all gone searching for a specific picture that we know exists only to spend hours looking for it and sometimes failing to find it at all. Getting jobsite photos into one centralized repository is a critical first step. Typical solutions include project management systems like Procore, enterprise file sharing systems like Box or Egnyte, or specialized systems like Smartvid.io. 

The next priority is ensuring a way of organizing pictures and videos so that their retrieval is as effortless as possible. While many smartphone photos will automatically include metadata, such as time, date, and even GPS coordinates, they don't tell you what's in that photo. Smartvid.io's AI engine (aka, Vinnie) can automatically organize your photos and videos to make them easily searchable by phase of construction, subcontractor names, and jobsite locations like room and floor numbers. Other approaches include manually tagging photos in systems like Procore or creating detailed folder-naming conventions in systems like Box or Egnyte.

  1. Location, Location, Location – Ever look at a photo of the jobsite and wonder where you took this picture? Locating your photos and videos on a plan with systems like Structionsite or using automated tagging like Smartvi.io's provides crucial context for anyone using photos to track construction progress — and can save a lot of time when searching for photos when you need them. 

  2. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction – Most documentation is taken for a specific purpose, either to document progress or quality defects, to make safety observations, or simply record a punch list item. Photos should be easily retrievable and shared based on why they were captured. Progress photos, for example, can be automatically shared with internal GC staff or owner reps through systems like Smartvid.io. 

  3. Sharing is caring – You have excellent documentation, but keeping it all to yourself diminishes. Providing executives and quality and safety experts in your organization with visibility to jobsite photos enables remote inspections and improves communication. Sharing with clients, especially when remote, provides a level of transparency and an opportunity to showcase the project to team members. Besides, an extra set of eyes, is always great to help identify potential issues before it’s too late. Bringing others in on your documentation can help you keep clients happy and win more work.

Well organized, properly planned visual documentation provides many benefits. Avoiding delays due to covered work, eliminating timely and costly change order disputes, and improving engagement of project team members and owners — these are just a few of the benefits of proper best practices of photo management. Don't miss out on these benefits and opportunities on your project.

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