This is the first of a five-part series exploring construction information management. This article provides advice for onsite diaries and effective daily work reports.
Hindsight is 20-20 they say, but the benefit of hindsight comes from being able to look back with clarity.
The view looking back can get obscured when developing construction claims at the end stages of a project if the right information wasn't captured during the work.
Substantiating delays and impacts to the work relies upon the ability to analyze historical project data, demonstrate what happened and when, and determining impacts to the schedule, productivity and costs.
A lack of detail captured during the course of construction can make those tasks difficult, which can jeopardize the integrity and success of a claim.
One simple tool that is often overlooked for its value is the site diary or daily work report.
In general, the site supervisor uses their diary to capture daily happenings, but more often than not he or she doesn't have a guideline as to what kind of information is important to capture.
Without a standard format and procedure for site diaries, the content and the quality of information captured can vary widely from site to site within the company.
What one person considers an important event to chronicle is not the same as another's. Beyond the basics such as date, weather, manpower and general activities, site diaries often contain subjective information that can be of dubious qualitative value and limited quantitative value.
The use of a standard form for site diaries takes some of the guesswork out of what to capture and provides some uniformity from day to day and from project to project. When the site supervisor sits down at the end of a long day to do the last thing he or she wants to do, filling in a standard form can make it easier and can help prompt them about what they need to document from the day's events. A written procedure accompanying the form is also helpful in giving the site supervisor an understanding as to the importance and value of specific data.
The fields of information to include on a form and/or in a procedure document can vary depending on the role of the company and on the nature of the contract (turnkey, lump sum construction, unit price, etc.). I will often customize forms and establish specific procedures for a client to use on a particular project that has a more complex contract or cost control structure.
Generally, however, the following fields should be included: date, weather, manpower, equipment — rented and owned, subcontractors on site and the start time/finish time.
Other fields to consider include;
• Area worked: identify the specific area as per contract price breakdown, schedule activity breakdown and/or cost control structure.
• Work performed — contract: This is specific to each area worked. The value of recording activities daily in a format or breakdown that is consistent with other project data such as revenue, cost and schedule, is that it makes various analyses necessary for claims, including delay, productivity and impact of changes, more efficient and more credible.
• Work performed — extra: specific to quote, change directive or change order number. This allows for tracking and verifying extra work costs and efforts as well as identifying the exact time periods when extra or changed work was performed for claims' analysis purposes. Also include acceleration efforts to recover schedule delays.
• Material/equipment deliveries
• Delays/interruptions to the work: It is important to document issues daily with respect to areas or activities on hold and why.
• Verbal directives/requests from others (owner, engineer, architect, general contractor): It's important to document such directives daily and having a specific field reserved for this serves as a reminder to follow up with a written confirmation, quotation and/or request for change order.
Even if the project doesn't appear to be at risk of substantial claims while underway, the fact is that disputes can arise by the end of the project and by then it can be difficult to look back and substantiate what happened and when. Other benefits of capturing detailed data during the course of the work include the ability to use that data internally to evaluate project performance for future estimating and bidding.
Detailed, formatted daily site diaries are good practice. Successful construction claims, as well as success in defending against claims, depend on good documentation.
Adele Wojtowicz, FICCP, CEC, principal of ProEdge, is a construction claims consultant and has been working in the construction industry for over 32 years. For more information visit www.proedgecs.com. Send comments and Industry Perspectives column ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.