Construction worker on site using phone; document your job site concept

How to Document Your Job Site and Complete Dailies in 30 Minutes

Reporting doesn’t need to be a burden for your project managers and your foremen. With the right processes and the right tools, your teams can document your job site get their daily reports done in about a half hour.

Below are four tips to help your crews streamline the work of documenting the job site and submitting dailies.

Write Simply

Your daily reports could have multiple audiences — GCs, project managers, building inspectors. Those dailies need to be meaningful and understandable to each of those people.

That’s why it’s important to write field notes simply and clearly. Use short, punchy sentences here.

Granted, that’s hard to do in a technical field. There’s a lot of jargon in the construction trade. It’s easy for a field leader or a foreman to slip into language that’s basically impossible for outsiders to understand.

MIT researcher Les Perelman wrote a handbook in the ‘90s to help people in technical and scientific fields document their work, and his advice applies here. When writing for an audience that doesn’t have your own technical knowledge of the field, here’s what you can do:

  • Give the reader enough background. It doesn’t have to be extensive, just enough that the reader can recognize which aspect of your work you’re about to describe.
  • Organize your information so that it flows from most familiar to least familiar. Build up to the more technical information.  
  • Explain any technical terms. This goes for acronyms and abbreviations, too. Don’t use the short forms for words and phrases unless you know the reader will understand them.

Let Your Photos Do the Talking

A picture is worth a thousand words. There’s no need to write out something you can capture with a time-stamped photo.

Warco Construction Inc. in Charlotte, North Carolina, tells us that having an organized place to store job site photos has made downstream conversations more efficient.

“With eSUB, the Foreman uses the mobile app to take pictures and make notes. The photo is dated and time-stamped and is saved with the job file. When we need to have a conversation with the general contractor or owner about the change order and cost of delay, we can easily reference that photo and show them something tangible.”

Workers looking at plans on construction site; document your job site concept

Get Your Crew’s Input

Toward the end of the day, walk the job site and talk to your field crew. For any work you need to document, talk to the people who did that work. 

This makes your reporting more informed, and it speeds up the work. Rather than having to put notes in your own words, you give the person closest to the work a chance to explain things. Your job here is to listen, take notes and distill that information into something an outsider can understand.

Use the Right Tool for the Job

Most construction trades companies understand the importance of capturing good field data.

“Forward-looking firms are realizing the benefits of sharing field data such as who is or was on a job site, what they did there, and the status of each job based on pictures and automatically uploaded daily reports,” Safe Site Check In founder and CEO David Brian Ward says.

“And they’re integrating this information with their project management platforms. Integration eliminates duplicate or conflicting information while reducing admin at HQ.”

What’s happening across all industries, however, is people are having to use more and more apps to manage their work. In May 2022, Caroline Colvin at HR Dive wrote about notification fatigue among U.S. workers. Colvin cites research from Asana that found the average American worker has to juggle nine apps per day to complete work tasks, and more than one-fifth of those people say switching between apps costs them in terms of productivity.

For people in the construction trades, a key to more efficient reporting is to keep everything in one app. We built eSUB to be that app. Our software lets field teams share field notes, an unlimited number of photos and videos, and submit dailies right from the job site.

By taking just a moment at the end of the work day to huddle up with crew members, talk through any issues or incidents, take photos, and distill that information into readable notes, field leaders can turn daily reporting into a half-hour task.

Learn More

As part of our Beyond the Grind webinar series, eSUB’s Daniel Guest has a great video on how to improve daily reporting. The video’s short enough that you can watch it on a lunch break, and walk away with five tips for making your dailies more informative for everyone on the team.

To learn more, watch the webinar here.

Images by: mklrnt/©, jeedfoto/©