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The All-in-One Guide to Generating Accurate, Real-Time Construction Reports for Owners

by Evan Hill   |   October 28, 2020

When making an informed decision around the future of your construction project, the quality of your decision-making abilities is only as strong as the data behind the decision. Whether it’s a question around funding status, project timeline and delivery, operational progress, or a cost-related decision -- the integrity and timeliness of the data behind the decision are paramount.

When making an informed decision around the future of your construction project, the quality of your decision-making abilities is only as strong as the data behind the decision. Whether it’s a question around funding status, project timeline and delivery, operational progress, or a cost-related decision -- the integrity and timeliness of the data behind the decision are paramount.

Opening Thoughts

In construction, data integrity and timeliness are a consistent pain for project executives. Owners often suffer from the lack of sole source data, outdated data (often 2-3 weeks old from the moment of inquiry), and a disconnected system.

For example, to generate a simple estimate to completion, a project manager will typically have to manually collect data from several different spreadsheets, email notes, and back of envelope scribble. That’s how completely disconnected some of our customers reported their projects to be before implementing a project management system.

When it comes to generating on-demand project reports — whether it’s to present to the board or refer to an executive for a decision — the quality of the data in that report is crucial. One of the key value propositions posed by a construction management software is to shorten the distance between decisions and the freshness of the data that informs those decisions.

As you know, it’s always about stuff that’s happened. It’s more about where we’re going and where we’re headed.” –  Gary Younger,

Director, Program/Project Controls at Northeastern University

In this guide we’ll cover three main types of reports, and how a project management system can aid project managers and owners in generating these reports accurately & on-demand:

  • Cost & Budget Related Reports
  • RFI & Submittal Reports
  • Schedule Reports

With that said, let’s dive in.

Program Dashboard BI

Generating Reports On-Demand

Cost & Budget

At a high level, a project executive is focused on three main questions and priorities:

  1. What is my cost to completion?
  2. Is my project forecasted to complete within budget?
  3. Am I projected to complete the project on time?

Two of those three questions are cost & budget-related. As we all know, the construction industry is notoriously wasteful & inefficient. Contractor mistakes, design errors, and poor project management can all lead to significant unforeseen costs. And at the end of the day, you as the owner is the one footing the bill for all of it.

Cost reports reveal the financial health of the owner’s project. A cost report is like an x-ray of the project’s day-to-day progress & health. The cost report will include consideration of all subcontracts, time and materials, purchase orders, payroll costs, and administrative expenses.

Historically, the effort to generate this report is an extremely tedious and time-consuming task by the project manager. He or she will need to track down multiple spreadsheets, numbers from emails, and ensure with every contractor that all expense sheets are up to date. They will then need to consolidate the metrics and generate a report for the executive, all of which can consume more than 30+ hours of the project manager’s workweek.

By the time the cost report has been generated, it’s 2-3 weeks out of date. The data the executive leaders or board works from will already be outdated. These are the struggles of a construction project without a proper construction management software in place: lack of data consolidation, hundreds of hours wasted in manual work, and compromised data integrity

With a project management system in place, a project manager is able to generate a real-time cost (or budget-related) report with a click of a single button. From the time the report request is made, a project manager is able to deliver said report within minutes and even seconds. Yes, really.

RFI & Submittal Reports

RFI and submittal reports are another commonly requested report from the executive and project management level. These types of reports provide transparency and insight into employee productivity, ensuring that the project is moving forward at the pace desired and that no ball has unknowingly been dropped in someone’s court without their knowledge.

Collaboration around RFIs and submittals have historically been a very slow and inefficient process. RFIs most commonly occur during the design and construction phases of the project. RFIs typically include very specific project information like the date of the RFI, recipients, information requested (and why it’s being requested), and deadlines for action.

As a project contributor, this is not a process you want to manage over email. Inboxes get drowned, contributors forget to respond, and projects are delayed. A construction management software allows for this collaboration to be streamlined and centralized, with the ability to report on the status of RFIs and submittals in real-time.

VIDEO DEMO: Click here to watch a free demo.

In a project management system like e-Builder Enterprise, any project manager or executive could run a real-time report to determine the number of open RFI processes and see the status of each.

Schedule

Schedule reports are another critical element towards measuring and predicting project success. Executives and the board care about cost and coming in-budget, but they also prioritize on-time delivery. For example, key milestones are measured and tracked on a very granular level:

  • When is the project expected to begin design?
  • When is the project expected to begin construction?
  • Is the project still on track to complete on-time?

Schedule reporting also gives the project manager the ability to forecast estimated cost to completion, and how that coincides with the remaining phases of the project. They’re able to generate real-time, granular reports detailing specific project activity and milestones to be completed in the short and long term.

Project Status

Closing Thoughts

At the end of the day, an effective reporting system with construction management software accomplishes multiple objectives:

  1. Ensures employees are completing their jobs
  2. Elimination of manual reporting work from a project manager’s schedule
  3. Project information & data at your fingertips
  4. Transparency among all project contributors
  5. Insurance again audits

As we discussed earlier, the quality of your decision-making relies on the strength and freshness of the data behind your decision. Without accurate, real-time data at your fingertips, the executive and board level is always working from behind.

A construction project management system provides transparency among all contributors in the project lifecycles, allows for real-time reports on productivity, cost, and schedule, and empowers your project’s board with the data necessary to make accurate, informed decisions.

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Key Topics Covered: Capital Improvement Program, construction management software, Process Improvement, Reporting in Construction

About the Author

Evan Hill
Product Marketing Manager

Host of the Connecting Construction Podcast and frequent contributor to the blog, Evan Hill is a Product Marketing leader with an intimate history of working in the SaaS space. He is passionate about helping construction owners deliver their projects on time, within budget, and with success.