Daily Reporting: What is it good for?
Daily reporting is broken.
After conversations with many general contractors and subcontractors, I’ve seen a common theme among daily reports. At best, daily reporting is a digital process. A foreman drafts a quick email at the end of the day with the daily report that gets automatically filed into Box or Dropbox. At worst, the foreman scratches down a couple sentences on a paper slip that is dropped on a pile in a filing cabinet in the office.
What’s wrong with this? When was the last time someone opened that Box folder to read the daily reports? When was the last time someone opened that filing cabinet? The 2016 Construction Technology Report shows that 47% of builders file reports non-digitally; that’s non-consumable, non-analyzable data. In an industry with extremely low laborer productivity, a process with little-to-no positive impact and a time commitment is a broken process.
In that case, why file daily reports in the first place? The answer lies in the data.
Often, builders just track the number of workers present on a job site, and their hours worked for payroll. Use of a digital tool that integrates with project management software gives builders the ability to track hours against particular tasks. This gives builders a holistic view of time spent on productive tasks vs time spent on non-productive tasks, and a barometer for the productivity of their laborers.
Some builders keep a Box folder of photos or videos for progress on the job site. Often, they are dumped into a project folder, and like their daily reports, not touched again. Using a digital tool that attaches photos to daily reports produces a timeline of photos and videos to show completion of the project, especially utilizing drones that take photos of the job site on an automated daily flight-plan. Tools like FotoIN, Dronomy and many others are emerging to produce progress time-lapses, or to view project progress on a particular date using collected media.
Employee Satisfaction, and other Internal Human Metrics
Many other industries have adopted enhanced artificial intelligence analytical tools to analyze collected data, and not even at a high cost. Simple tools exist to, based on a block of text, predict the speaker’s:
- Confidence of language
- Analytical mood
- Tentative mood
Collecting these values from the comments of each foreman’s weekly reports could provide an internal status check of the overall confidence, satisfaction, or frustration of employees (or down to each employee). Understanding these human characteristics can help builders to identify what drives their productivity.
You can try IBM Watson’s Tone Analyzer artificial intelligence here: https://tone-analyzer-demo.mybluemix.net/. Try entering some sentences with different moods, and see how the analyzer understands what is conveyed by the style of the sentence.
Daily Reporting: Underused but Powerful
Daily reporting is a great data collection tool that is greatly underused by the construction industry. Improving use of daily reporting could be a source for general contractors and their subcontractors to understand their holistic labor productivity, project progress, and employees’ human characteristics.
Fortunately, there is no lack in digital daily reporting tools in the construction industry. Tools like BlueBeam, Procore, and BIM 360 provide daily reporting. Many more are available in the 2016 Construction Technology Report by JBKnowledge: 2016 construction technology report survey
About the Author
Graham Leslie is the Director of JBKLabs at JBKnowledge, which is dedicated to disrupting and accelerating the architecture, engineering, and construction industries by building solutions with emerging technology. Graham is a computer scientist with particular research interests in mixed reality, reality scanning, and artificial intelligence. JBKLabs is available for advisory, research, and custom software development services. Learn more at jbknowledge.com/labs.