Daily Reports and their Importance in Documenting Impacts to the Project Schedule
Founder & Manager at Bear3 Consultants LLC, Master Scheduler, 4D, 5D & 6D Scheduler, Project Controls Manager, Author, Inventor ..
28 June 2023
In the realm of construction project management, the daily report stands as the most crucial document produced in the field. It serves as a detailed account of the day's activities, providing valuable insights into the progress, challenges, and potential impacts to the project schedule. As a Scheduler and Forensic Schedule Analyst, I understand the immense significance of these reports, particularly when preparing a Time Impact Analysis (TIA) or other approved impact analysis type, that may be used in court years after the work was completed. This article will explore the key points surrounding the importance of daily reports in documenting impacts to the project schedule, ensuring clarity and accessibility for a wide range of stakeholders.
Daily reports are at times assigned to a new (less experienced) superintendent or foreman, which unfortunately is a delegated assignment like the "Drive-Thru Window" of project management. However, despite the common perception of their low importance, or nobody reads them attitude, daily reports hold immense value in terms of record-keeping and claim substantiation. It is essential to recognize their significance and allocate the necessary attention and resources to their proper execution.
The daily report holds immense importance in documenting impacts on the project schedule. Its comprehensive and accurate documentation of work progress, support in preparing Time Impact Analysis, its role in court proceedings, effective communication among stakeholders, promotion of transparency and accountability, and contribution to lessons learned make it an indispensable, and often required, tool for construction companies. Recognizing the significance of the daily report and investing in the proper training of foremen and superintendent personnel to write detailed and concise reports can significantly enhance project documentation, mitigate risks, and ensure project success.
The principle of "if it's not documented, it didn't happen officially" emphasizes the importance of proper documentation in establishing the validity and existence of events, actions, or decisions. In various fields, including construction, legal, and business, documentation serves as a reliable record of occurrences and transactions. Without proper documentation, there is no official evidence to support claims, track progress, or validate agreements. It underscores the significance of accurately capturing and recording information to ensure transparency, accountability, and the ability to reference and rely on documented events in the future. In essence, if something is not documented, it lacks official recognition and can be challenging to substantiate or enforce.
The adage "garbage in, garbage out" often holds true when it comes to the proper documentation during the life of a construction project. Inaccurate, incomplete, or poorly written daily reports can undermine the entire documentation process and compromise the validity of the information recorded. If the daily reports are not diligently prepared, the resulting data and records become unreliable and can lead to incorrect conclusions and analysis. It is crucial to emphasize the importance of accurate and detailed reporting, as the quality of the information entered into the daily report directly impacts the quality of subsequent analyses, claims, and decision-making processes. By adhering to a high standard of reporting and ensuring that accurate and relevant information is consistently captured, construction professionals can uphold the integrity of their project documentation and avoid the pitfalls associated with "garbage in, garbage out."
The daily report serves as a detailed account of the work performed each day. It captures critical information such as who is working, what tasks are being undertaken, when activities begin and end, where the work is taking place, why the work is being done (especially for out-of-sequence or out-of-scope work), and how the work is being executed. By providing a comprehensive description of the project's progress, the daily report becomes an invaluable tool for tracking work activities, identifying potential delays, and documenting the overall project timeline.
Daily Reports have many uses beyond the period the work is performed:
Evidence for Time Impact Analysis
When it comes to preparing a Time Impact Analysis (TIA) to support a claim of impact to the project schedule, the daily report plays a pivotal role. As a Scheduler or Forensic Schedule Analyst, reviewing the daily reports and other project documentation review by the analyst is crucial in gathering evidence to substantiate the claim. The daily report provides a day-by-day account of events, changes, delays, and disruptions, which can be used to establish causation and demonstrate how specific factors affected the project's timeline.
Supporting Claims in Court
In situations where disputes or claims escalate to legal proceedings, the daily report becomes a vital piece of evidence. Years after the work was completed, the daily report serves as a historical record that can be referred to during court proceedings. It provides a factual account of the project's progression, highlighting any unforeseen circumstances, weather conditions, or other factors that impacted the schedule. This documentation helps strengthen the credibility of the claim and provides a solid foundation for presenting the case in front of arbitrators, judges, and potential jurors.
Communication Among Project Stakeholders
The daily report serves as a means of effective communication among project stakeholders. It keeps the entire project team, including the contractor and owner, executives and home office personnel, project controls personnel (such as the Scheduler, Cost Engineer, and Forensic Schedule Analyst), and attorneys, well-informed about the project's daily activities and progress. The report ensures that everyone is on the same page, aware of any issues or delays, and able to take appropriate actions to keep the project on track.
Transparency and Accountability
By consistently producing detailed daily reports, foremen and superintendents demonstrate transparency and accountability. These reports showcase the team's adherence to schedules, contract requirements, and industry standards. They provide a clear record of the work performed, decisions made, and any challenges faced. This transparency not only promotes trust among project stakeholders but also helps protect the contractor's interests by providing a solid documentation trail in case of disputes or claims.
Lessons Learned and Continuous Improvement
Daily reports also contribute to the learning and continuous improvement process in construction projects. By reviewing past reports, project teams can identify recurring issues, patterns of delay, or areas for improvement. The reports serve as a valuable resource for assessing the effectiveness of project management strategies, identifying best practices, and implementing lessons learned in future projects. They facilitate a culture of learning and enable teams to enhance their efficiency and performance over time.
A target audience refers to a specific group of individuals or a demographic that a message, product, or service is intended to reach and engage. It involves identifying the characteristics, preferences, needs, and behaviors of the individuals who are most likely to be interested in or benefit from the offering. Understanding the target audience helps tailor communication and strategies to effectively connect with and resonate with the intended recipients.
The target audience for daily reports is diverse and includes individuals with varying levels of education and familiarity with the construction industry. Therefore, it is crucial to strike a balance between providing sufficient detail for project team members while ensuring that the average person, who may serve on a jury several years in the future, can comprehend the content. By adhering to a 6th grade reading level, the information becomes accessible to a broader audience and prevents any misinterpretation or confusion that may arise from technical jargon.
One critical aspect of daily reports is their readability. To ensure effective communication and understanding across various stakeholders, it is recommended to write these reports at a 6th grade reading level. Similar to newspaper journalists, making the report readable by a broader audience, not just the highly educated executives, home office personnel, project controls professionals, attorneys, arbitrators, judges, but also potential jurors, those without a college degree or experience working in construction. Following the journalistic principle of answering the "6 Ws" - Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How - daily reports should address these key questions to provide a comprehensive account of the day's events.
When preparing daily reports, it is essential to include specific details that answer the 6 "W" questions. These details encompass who is working, what they are doing, when they started and/or finished the task (schedule activity), where the work is being performed, why the work is being done (especially if out-of-sequence or out-of-scope work is being performed), and how the work is being executed.
Additionally, a 7th "W" - "Why Not" - should be considered. This addresses situations why work scheduled to be performed does not progress as planned. Providing reasons for such delays, such as pending change orders, subcontractor manpower shortages, conflicts with other trades, or request for information (RFI), helps establish a comprehensive picture of the project's progress and any potential schedule impacts.
Daily reports should also document visitors to the site, a running headcount, schedule activity IDs, special notes, verbal directions given in the field (followed up with RFIs), inspection results with explanations for pass or fail outcomes, and photographs of progress. This is a suggested minimum list of items to include in daily reports, but it is not meant to be exclusive.
It is worth noting that when capturing photographs, the focus should be on the work itself rather than individuals involved. Moreover, videos can be a valuable resource, as they combine multiple pictures to provide a dynamic representation of the project's evolution. To maximize the effectiveness of visual documentation, it is important to learn techniques for taking clear, focused photographs and videos without excessive movement or distraction. Be sure to view your videos regularly to see the effects moving too quickly may have on the viewer and be sure they do not become seasick watching the video on a bigger screen.
Advancements in technology have revolutionized the process of documenting daily reports. Moving from paper-based records to digital platforms, such as word processing and spreadsheet software developed a generation ago, streamlined the collection and dissemination of information. However, exercise caution when using copy-paste or save-as functions, as each entry should be reviewed to ensure accuracy and representation of the work performed on that specific day. Furthermore, the ubiquity of smartphones allows for easy access to video and still cameras, dictation capabilities, and project management applications that facilitate real-time reporting from the field. By embracing these technological advancements and providing proper training, project teams can enhance the efficiency and accuracy of daily reporting.
Writing daily reports at a 6th grade reading level ensures clarity and accessibility for a wide range of stakeholders. To help improve the quality of future reports, engaging an elementary school teacher to randomly assess and grade monthly samples can be a helpful quality control measure. The objective would be that the proper sentence structure is used and for their readability, more than being sure every word is spelled correctly.
Moreover, regular training sessions for superintendents on how to write (or speak for dictation purposes) at a 6th grade level will foster effective communication practices within the project team.
It is vital to recognize that a superintendent's duty is to protect their employer, and comprehensive documentation through daily reports is a key element of that responsibility. The ability to reference detailed descriptions written on the day the work occurred is far superior to relying on memory when facing deposition months or years after the events took place. By adhering to the principles outlined in this article and consistently maintaining accurate and comprehensive daily reports, construction professionals can protect their companies from false or exaggerated claims and provide the necessary evidence to support legitimate claims of impacts to the project schedule.
In conclusion, the daily report stands as the most crucial document in the realm of construction project management. Its significance lies in its ability to document impacts to the project schedule, provide evidence for claims, support legal proceedings, facilitate effective communication, promote transparency and accountability, contribute to continuous improvement, and establish a reliable record of project activities. The adage "garbage in, garbage out" serves as a reminder of the importance of accurate and detailed reporting, as the quality of the information entered directly affects subsequent analyses, claims, and decision-making processes. By recognizing the importance of daily reports, investing in proper training, embracing technology, and adhering to a 6th grade reading level, construction professionals can enhance project documentation, mitigate risks, and safeguard their companies from false claims. Ultimately, diligent and accurate documentation through daily reports not only serves as a foundation for successful project completion but also ensures the integrity and accountability of the construction industry as a whole.
Daily Reports – Continuing Education for Superintendents
Delbert Bearden, PSP
Daily Reports – Continuing Education for Superintendents
Delbert Bearden, PSP
In the dynamic and ever-evolving field of construction project management, the significance of accurate and comprehensive daily reports cannot be overstated. These reports serve as a lifeline for project progress tracking, documentation of critical events, and substantiation of claims. The role of superintendents, as key personnel in the field, is instrumental in ensuring the accuracy and effectiveness of these daily reports. As the construction industry embraces technological advancements and strives for enhanced efficiency and transparency, the need for continuous education for superintendents in crafting impeccable daily reports becomes increasingly apparent. In this regard, the value of ongoing training cannot be underestimated, as it equips superintendents with the necessary skills, insights, and techniques to produce reports that meet the requirements of both project controls professionals and the wider audience, thus safeguarding the integrity and success of construction projects. This article delves into the importance of continuing education for daily reports, highlighting its benefits in elevating the quality of documentation and ensuring the industry's adherence to the highest standards of professionalism and accountability.
As a superintendent, understanding the significance of thorough documentation in claims cases is paramount. The saying "he with the most always wins" resonates deeply, highlighting the importance of having strong evidence to support your employer’s case. When disputes arise, having a solid collection of comprehensive documentation, including daily reports, can be the key to safeguarding your employer's interests and protecting the project's integrity. Through detailed and accurate records of activities, decisions, and impacts, you can establish a clear and reliable account of the project's progression. This will not only help your company avoid disputes but also equip them to confidently navigate claims cases when they arise. By recognizing the critical role of documentation and consistently striving to maintain high-quality records, you can better protect your employer and contribute to the successful completion of construction projects.
The daily report plays a pivotal role in defending construction employers against claims and disputes that may arise during and after a project's completion. By meticulously documenting the day-to-day activities, challenges, and decisions made on the construction site, the daily report becomes an invaluable piece of evidence to support the employer's position in case of litigation or arbitration. Whether facing delay claims, change order disputes, or allegations of substandard work, having a well-documented and detailed daily report can significantly bolster your employer's defense. The report provides a factual account of events, establishes a clear timeline of activities, and highlights any unforeseen circumstances that may have impacted the project schedule. In legal proceedings, the daily report becomes a reliable historical record, demonstrating the employer's commitment to transparency, adherence to schedules, and compliance with contractual obligations. Ultimately, the daily report serves as a powerful tool in protecting the employer's interests and safeguarding their reputation, emphasizing the indispensable role of accurate and comprehensive documentation in the construction industry.
A comprehensive daily report should serve as a detailed and factual account of the day's activities on a construction site. It must address the "7 Ws" - Who, What, When, Where, Why, How, and Why Not - to provide a complete picture of the work performed, progress made, and any challenges encountered. The report should be written at a 6th grade reading level to ensure accessibility for a wide range of stakeholders, including those without a construction background or legal knowledge. It should contain specific details, including the identification of workers, tasks performed, start and finish times for each activity, work locations, reasons for delays or deviations, and any special requirements or procedures followed. Photographs and videos of the work progress should be included, focusing on the work itself rather than individuals involved. Embracing technological advancements and providing proper training are essential to facilitate efficient and accurate reporting. Additionally, the daily report should highlight the importance of proper documentation for defending your employer against claims and disputes, emphasizing its role as a vital tool in supporting legal proceedings and protecting the company's interests. By adhering to these principles, construction professionals can enhance the effectiveness and reliability of daily reports, contributing to the successful completion of projects and the integrity of the construction industry as a whole.
The target audience for daily reports includes a diverse group of individuals, ranging from those with little to no knowledge of construction practices to highly skilled experts in the field. It is crucial to strike a balance in the report's content, ensuring clarity and accessibility for the common person while providing enough detailed information to meet the requirements of construction professionals and project controls experts. By adhering to a 6th grade reading level, the information becomes more easily comprehensible for the average reader, including potential jurors who may encounter the report years after the project's completion. Avoiding acronyms, slang, or unexplained abbreviations is essential to prevent confusion and misinterpretation. However, while catering to a broader audience, the daily report should still contain specific and accurate details that are valuable to experts in the construction industry. This approach fosters effective communication and understanding among all stakeholders, enhances transparency, and enables construction professionals to use the reports as reliable and robust documentation in their analyses and legal proceedings.
In daily reports, it is essential to avoid certain pitfalls that could compromise their effectiveness. First and foremost, steer clear of using slang, abbreviations, or acronyms without providing proper explanations. These may lead to confusion among stakeholders, especially those without construction knowledge. Secondly, avoid inserting personal opinions or engaging in in-fighting among the project team. Daily reports should stick to factual information and maintain a professional tone. Additionally, refrain from repeating entries verbatim day after day, as conditions can change, and redundancy can dilute the report's value. By avoiding these common mistakes, superintendents can ensure that their daily reports remain clear, accurate, and reliable documentation of the project's progress.
For superintendents learning to write a quality daily report, several tips and suggestions can enhance their reporting skills and ensure that their employer is well-protected. Firstly, it is crucial to adhere to a 6th grade reading level, making the report easily understandable for a diverse audience. Avoid using acronyms, slang, or abbreviations without explanation to ensure clarity. Providing detailed and accurate answers to the "6 Ws" (Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How) and the additional "Why Not" question will contribute to comprehensive reporting. Including photographs and videos of the work progress while focusing on the progress of tasks themselves rather than individuals involved can further enhance the report's effectiveness.
Additionally, engaging a grade schoolteacher to randomly assess and grade monthly samples can be a valuable quality control measure. This ensures the report's readability and accessibility to a non-technical audience. Regular training sessions on writing at a 6th grade reading level and using proper sentence structure can reinforce effective communication practices within the project team.
Continuing evaluation of the daily reports is essential to maintain their quality and accuracy. Regular reviews by project controls professionals, such as Schedulers, Cost Engineers, and Forensic Schedule Analysts, can provide valuable feedback and identify areas for improvement. Constructive criticism and ongoing support will enable superintendents to fine-tune their reporting skills and create reports that meet both the common person's understanding and the expert's requirements. By consistently producing detailed and well-structured daily reports, superintendents can protect their employers by establishing a reliable documentation trail, supporting claims in disputes, and demonstrating transparency and accountability throughout the project's lifecycle.
In conclusion, the daily report is a pivotal document in the construction industry, serving as a crucial tool for documenting project progress, impacts, and potential risks. Educating superintendents on the importance of quality daily reports is essential to ensure clear communication, accountability, and the protection of their employer's interests. By adhering to a 6th grade reading level, avoiding jargon, and providing comprehensive information, daily reports become accessible to a wide range of stakeholders, including those unfamiliar with construction practices. Additionally, enlisting the expertise of a grade schoolteacher to grade and train superintendents can further enhance the reports' readability and effectiveness.
The significance of daily reports goes beyond the project's duration, as they can serve as evidence in legal proceedings or support Time Impact Analysis for claims. Companies and project controls professionals play a vital role in guiding superintendents to produce quality reports and offering ongoing evaluations to maintain their accuracy and reliability. By following these guidelines and continuously improving their reporting skills, superintendents can protect their employers, foster transparency, and contribute to the overall success of construction projects. Ultimately, the commitment to writing informative and detailed daily reports not only benefits the project team but also upholds the integrity and accountability of the construction industry as a whole.