I wish that I could have a dollar for every time I have written on the subject.
Really what I wish is that writing about this type of project documentation would have some positive impact on the quality of these reports. I also wish that project personnel at all levels and doing all tasks would understand that every one of them would realize that daily notes is a job for every project participant, not just field management.
When we consider the fact that contemporaneous (at the time) documentation is by far the strongest and most useful project documentation that can and does exist. Essentially, this type of documentation CAN TESTIFY and represents the highest form of documentation that exists in a project environment. Not just a construction project environment.
Knowing what happened, when it happened, why it happened, where it happened, who or what was the cause, what were the aftereffects and what immediate actions were taken to fix or counteract what had happened. Since this was an immediate recordation recording mostly facts as you saw/hear them, it is strong.
The following mind map outlines the entire process and recordation to be made.
Since I know you can’t all read the mind map, clicking on the map will allow you to view it better. Alternatively, you can download the daily construction diaries map created with iMindQ software, and edit at your will.
Since I have heard these comments many times before, “we don’t know all of this, and we certainly don’t have time to put all of this into my daily notes.”
You’re right, but you can record what you do know and others can expound on what they know.
Daily reports are the very best way to get and backup schedule status and updating and this is very critical. Daily or at least weekly input should be done to your project schedule don’t wait for a month to go by and deal with your update all at once every month. Progress or problems should be dealt with at the activity level.
This is one reason that it is as important to note what was scheduled to take place during the day and could not for some reason as it is to note something that did happen. Especially if it was not planned to happen. This is out of sequence progress.
Is it a major job to obtain all the needed information, absolutely? Is it tough for your company to pay for delays that they did not cause to the tune of thousands of dollars, absolutely? That’s the alternative.
Facts not Rhetoric
A daily report should be to the greatest extent a relating of factual statements, not your opinions. It is true that your experienced opinions are often quite helpful.
Just make certain that the readers of your report can clearly identify when you are offering an opinion and not relaying facts.
What Can Someone Read in your Project?
Yap, only what is written there by you. When someone must read between the lines or replace incorrectly used words or phrases, they must draw on their own experience to complete your thoughts. Do you want that? Hopefully not, so do the following:
- Tell the reader the upfront story they need to begin where your story begins (call it set the stage)
- Do your utmost to convey the complete story and correctly integrate the facts
- Define terms that might confuse others
- Provide all needed references
Stop, Don't Change That
This is a contemporaneous report (Existing, occurring, or originating during the same time). Once your report is submitted (on the day it was written) do not change a word. If corrections must be made, do it on the next daily report and backreference the report being annotated.
Never Use This Report For
This is not a report for all topics, wrongly used you may weaken this documents testifying strength. SO, don’t do any of the following:
- Use this document to criticize someone or in some way tell them off.
- Do not use off color language.
- Do not use this venue for any personal thoughts.
- Do not offer third party comments.
You are represented by the report(s) you prepare.
One day you may be a witness in a trial, arbitration or a deposition and your reports will most likely be the subject of the questioning.
Large amounts of money could be spent and lost depending on what you wrote.
This is important stuff. Make sure that your daily reports are the best, not the worst.
Author: Gordon H. Aronson, P.E. President, Vision Consultants, LLC