At the far side of the jobsite something is happening which will, inevitably, jam up today’s progress on a foundation. You won’t know about it until five cement trucks sit waiting to unload with their drums slowly spinning toward the bewitching 300th revolution. The longer the concrete stays in the drums, the faster the temperature rises, causing it to lose moisture. Those changing conditions will make the concrete hard to work with, almost guarantee excessive cracking, and won’t meet the requirements to pump. This concrete will not be placed today.
You’re in the Dark
You’ve just finishing your first cup of coffee as the FAX machine comes to life and spits out today’s equipment report. You casually scan it, thinking about how well the schedule is shaping up, and how great it’s going to be to get off a little early so you can head out on that much-awaited camping trip you’ve had on your mind all month. The top of the equipment list looks good, but as you get to the middle of the report you see something that makes your stomach churn and your camping trip seem far from possible. The concrete pump you need today for the foundation work is out of commission until the following week. Your day just turned into a nightmare.
Just One Step Behind
There are countless minor and major project horror stories like this playing out on jobsites across the globe––daily. On an industry-wide basis, the costs from people not getting the right information at the right time are staggering. The sobering fact of the matter is that it doesn't have to be that way. There are tools available that will improve the speed and accuracy of information across construction jobsites so that new levels of productivity, and profits are available. But, it does require replacing outdated modes of operating.
When you use mobile devices, cloud-based project management solutions, and modern reporting tools, the information you gather, at this moment, is within minutes of being included in a report.
Until recently, reporting in the construction industry had often happened one step behind the action. That was simply because reporting was laborious, time-consuming, and dependent on multiple steps taken by multiple people. It really wasn't that long ago that handwritten notes were sent to someone else for typing. They then traveled to either the originator, or someone else, where they were sorted and catalogued and stored before getting included in the appropriate report. The report was then carried or faxed to the people who needed it. It's really no wonder why people in construction often complained of receiving reports long after they had any use for them. Report, or no report, in this industry, people have to make decisions quickly, with whatever resources they have to do so.
But, It Doesn’t Need to Be Like That
Today, you can generate and review reports on-the-fly. You have access to important decision-making information to aid you in better decisions. When you use mobile devices, cloud-based project management solutions, and modern reporting tools, the information you gather, at this moment, is within minutes of being included in a report.
The new digital reporting paradigm is providing construction companies of all sizes:
Better control over activities and quality
Greater visibility into processes and historical data
Improved accountability at all levels of projects
Just consider the areas where advanced information gathering and reporting can improve decisions and project outcomes.
Daily Field Reports
Even on small jobs, there are many daily reports in the mix to help you stay ahead of schedule. From reports on the progress of activities to reports on budget expenditures and the daily log, the goal is always to have a complete and up-to-date understanding of what's happening. If you have people doing their tasks and collecting data points on mobile devices, using electronic forms as much as possible, and having that information compiled in a cloud-based project management tool, you can pool, and share reports anytime you want.
Construction projects thrive on inspections. Whether the inspections are required for codes and safety, or are part of your quality efforts, they are integral to delivering projects that meet the goals. If you are waiting for the results of inspections, you are also waiting to move on to the next activity within the schedule. Worse, if you rely on a visual inspection of quality, where more exactitude is required, you could end up adjusting the schedule to accommodate rework. Using mobile and digital inspection processes frees you up to focus on what’s next, instead of trying to figure out what just happened.
The initial scenario, at the beginning of this article, would have turned out much differently had you known about the equipment breakdown when it happened. Even advanced notice of just an hour could provide enough time to acquire or rent a replacement.
Shortages of personnel, materials, and services all contribute to compromises in the schedule. They may not be schedule stoppers, but they will all extract a cost in the end.
Incident and Safety Reports
Changing conditions often lead to incidents and safety issues. The walkway that was dry in the morning, becomes a slip hazard following an afternoon shower. An accident blocking access to integral parts of the jobsite, almost guarantees activity that will result in a negative impact. Whenever reports contain information that can shed light on potential incidents or safety issues, the sooner you can account for them, the sooner you can prepare and take action on them.
Getting accurate information in a timely fashion is promised by today's technologies. You may have to let go of some familiar and comfortable processes to reap the benefits, but, if you want to stay competitive and profitable, harnessing the value of information as soon as it’s available, is the way to do it.