Last week we introduced the importance of the daily report on a construction project. Primarily, the daily report becomes part of the official record of the project documenting what happens on the job from day-to-day and serves as a reference for settling of claims and disputes. In today's article, we look at deficiencies commonly found on a daily report, the application of electronic aids in the daily report process, and, some actual examples of reports used by several public agencies.
Typical Daily Report Deficiencies
Leaving spaces blank
If a subcontractor is not on the job, don't leave it blank. Enter zero and put in not-on-job in the description area, hopefully accompanied by a reason the sub gave when contacted. This goes for equipment as well. Idle and downtime should be noted, and the reason why. It could be a maintenance issue or a delay issue. Many forms have an area to write in delays encountered in the field. When left blank in the face of actual delays encountered, contractors can lose valid claims. This applies to other supplemental information, such as commitments, instructions and requests made either between contractor and owner, contractor and subcontractor and contractor and suppliers.
Insufficient weather information
Forms that allow limited weather condition data tell a limited story. There is not necessarily any relationship between weather and work performed. Rain makes no difference on a closed-in building or some outdoor operations. It's always better to show the effect of weather, if any, on the work itself. This can be done in the descriptions of activities for each craft or subcontractor. When work starts late or shuts down early, either due to weather or other reasons, show the time and why. Also show when work cannot be done because areas have not been dried or cleared of earlier rains, floods or snowfalls. Morning, mid-day and afternoon temperatures are handy to have. Some contractors regularly print out NOAA weather information and save it in a notebook. One interesting solution we found to this problem is from the Florida Department of Transportation's Daily Report. Essentially, it's a grid where details of weather are noted and what activities are affected.*
EFFECTS OF WEATHER ON MAJOR WORK ITEMS (Check controlling items):
Always fill out a report, even for holidays. This takes the guesswork out of trying to figure out if anyone worked the day after thanksgiving, or for certain local holidays. Always fill out separate forms for weekend work. For double shift work, use different color forms for the different shifts (and weekends). General contractors should collect daily reports from their subcontractors and attach them to their own report. However, pertinent subcontractor data should still be carried onto the general contractor's form.
Not enough detail
Here's an excerpt from an FAA Inspector's Report Instructions:
It is important to list the type of work being performed, such as placement of base course material, application of prime coat, sealing joints, applying curing compound to concrete, etc. These items may seem unimportant at the time; however, they may become very important when settling a claim. The location of work being performed should be noted. This description should include all work for the day. For instance, if PCC is being placed, it might be said that PCC was placed on the second lane from the west side from station 100+00 to station 23+50. (https://www.faa.gov/airports/northwest_mountain/engineering/construction_resources/media/pavement-manual.pdf)
Clarify work that is not regular production, such as rework and punch list work. Indicate where a location is left unfinished and when work resumed.
Daily Reports in the Electronic Age Systems like Primavera Contract Manager, Trimble Prolog, Autodesk Constructware, as well as a few dedicated daily report applications for laptop computers, tablets and smartphones, are available to make daily reports more effective, legible and efficient. The efficiency factor is that much repetitive information from day-to-day does not need to be reentered. The effectiveness factor is that once in the system, those in management and staff up the corporate ladder have immediate access to important issues, as well as the ability to track trends.
Electronic signatures and concurrent distribution of the reports from the contractor to owner can preserve and protect the integrity of the data. Many companies have policies that hard copy reports must be printed out, signed and filed for record keeping purposes. Over the next two years with the growth of tablet PCs, wireless networks and sophisticated software, this may give the best of both worlds to the people in the field for completing daily reports. This will facilitate filling out electronic forms visually, selecting from lists where available and entering hand written notes where necessary.
A number of public agencies, such as the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) and the Washington Department of Transportation (WashDOT) have their own online systems for entering and saving daily report data. These electronic forms systems allow the user to fill out forms electronically, at the same time, saving the data in a computer database. Forms can be duplicated, so yesterday's crews and activities can be carried to the next day to make data entry easier.
Conclusion Daily reports form the basis for preserving historical data as well as assisting project staff to track events and progress in real-time serving as a critical planning tool. In a construction claims situation, they are essential. Despite the existences of electronic payroll and cost reports, claims consultants often rely on the daily reports to understand what work was done, where it was done and when it was done. The time card descriptions, if any, usually do not make it into the payroll and cost reports. The better the daily reports, the more useful they will be in piecing together a meaningful as-built record of the job needed to support delay, disruption, multiple-changes and inefficiency claims.
There's no excuse for not maintaining complete and thorough daily reports. Some supervisors and foremen will say they don't have time for paperwork. It's a requirement of the job. Encourage note and picture taking during the day to help the individual out later on when he/she has a quiet moment to sit down and do the report properly. Sometimes having someone on staff or even a part-time engineering student assisting those with writing or language problems can be useful, so long as the person signing the report understands what it say and agrees with it.