Progress, Quality, Deviations, Defects and Deficiencies…continued from Part 1 of the "at the point of construction" series
Contractor’s Field Reports. Field reports, also referred to as daily logs and daily details, for contractors and construction managers, are somewhat different than that of the Architect's Field Report. In addition to the areas described on the Architect's Field Report, the Contractor’s Field Report may also include areas such as materials, labor, tools and equipment, site activities such as deliveries, and quantities of work put in place, as some examples.
Document-driven to database-driven process. Many architects work to establish corporate standards and best practices around field reporting, to perform to the Standard of Care, help manage risk and accelerate the learning curve for interns and new personnel. However, for the laggards, the field reporting process continues to be document-driven, and not database-driven, through a combination of standalone paper-based documents or digital documents, generally isolated in 3-ring project binders or silo-ed in file folders on a shared network drive, or worse, on local hard drives.
Benefits of the database-driven process. As with many other field processes in construction such as work list, punchlist, safety, materials management and commissioning, and other related industries with a field component for that matter, a paper-based, document-driven process has inherent pain points and disabling limitations. Conversely, a database-driven process changes the game, empowers field personnel at the Point of Construction™ and enables new forms of reporting and analytics to identify trends and improve behaviors, all proactively.
Standard of Care. Performing services to the Standard of Care is a key benefit of administering field reporting in a database-driven process, through mobile field software on Tablet PCs, counter to the traditional method of paper and clipboard, pre-printed paper forms, be it AIA® Document G711™ – 1972 Architect's Field Report template or a custom form, weatherproof field notebook and field pocket cards.
B101–2007 Section 2.2 describes the Standard of Care related to the architect’s services.
“§ 2.2 The Architect shall perform its services consistent with the professional skill and care ordinarily provided by architects practicing in the same or similar locality under the same or similar circumstances. The Architect shall perform its services as expeditiously as is consistent with such professional skill and care and the orderly progress of the Project.”
The Standard of Care clause is not new to the architect’s services. The AIA Document B101™ – 2007 Commentary highlights that, “Expeditious performance is the best that any professional can promise when dealing with matters of indeterminate nature.” Administering field reports through mobile field software coupled with a centralized and synchronized database, shared by the architect’s team and accessed by the owner and other project stakeholders, helps to drive a Standard of Care. Timeliness is important!
In turn, the ability to perform with and document to a Standard of Care, day by day and week by week, automatically, as the project progress, is most effective. And documenting a Standard of Care incrementally then enables architects to demonstrate it, whether internally to managers and principals, externally to clients and insurers, or, in a worse case scenario, to manage risks during processes of negotiation, mediation, arbitration or litigation.
Here are some of the many aspects of a database-driven Field Report process that help to enable a Standard of Care in today’s risk-prone, construction environment:
1. Rich media. Field reporting captured via software on a Tablet PC, such as in Vela Systems, supports rich media. For example, architects capture photographs of observations, deviations, defects and deficiencies, markup drawings and specifications, and attach voice recordings and video files, to field reports. The supporting information, such as the site photos, is then “wrapped” by the field report database record, eliminating the need to download photo files from a digital camera, scan through file thumbnails and insert images one by one in to a MS Word document. Architect's Field Reports are backed by visual proof.
2. Audits. As architects or interns create new field reports via software of the Tablet PC, each field report header and the observations associated with it, are date and time stamped and author stamped, in a read-only format which cannot be modified. Unlike MS Word, forms cannot be modified ad-hoc by a standard user. Permissions may be configured by user and user group by role so that only the author or other authorized user has the ability to change or delete out existing field reports. Changes made by the author or other authorized user are tracked in a history log or audit trail, also date and time stamped and author stamped. Architect's Field Reports are audit-able.
3. Reports. In real-time or right-time, project managers, executives and principals may view and review field reports across projects, by project, by author, by status and by a host of other key parameters, to improve decision making. As quality observations tally up by area and by trade, decision-makers evaluate statistical evidence backed with detailed, photographic proof, as opposed to by sometimes unsubstantiated and secondhand commentary.
Reports and observations from previous weeks and months may be compared with current reports, to drive continuity. With the outmoded document-driven methodology, standalone field reports, silo’ed in file folders, only present snapshots in time. Database-driven technology, coupled with a powerful mobile platform, changes the game here. Architect's Field Reports are able to be “rolled up” in to executive level reports.
Architects in the field share field reports and related observations and rich media in a single-click, sending the information from the mobile field software on the Tablet PC directly to the centralized database, available to other users. Communication back to the home office is instant, eliminating the need to travel back to the hotel or office, manually transcribe in rough draft notes, and format and distribute reports. Accordingly, architects, project managers and principals are able to proactively indentify trends and areas of higher risk, and notify owners in a timely manner. Architect's Field Reports are easy to deliver to decision-makers.
Services are performed “…as expeditiously as is consistent with such professional skill and care and the orderly progress of the Project.”
Call to action. I’d like to invite our readers to share your comments about the state of field reporting processes and practices today? Here are ten questions, to think about and help encourage a dialogue around the Architect's Field Report:
As an architect, owner, contractor, insurer or other stakeholder…
- How does field reporting impact the Quality of work on the job site?
- How does field reporting impact the Standard of Care?
- How does field reporting impact Risk Management?
- How does field reporting add value for you, your company and your clients?
- How do you administer field reporting today, in a document-driven or database-driven methodology?
- What are some of your lessons learned and best practices around field reporting?
- How do the AIA B Series of contract documents impact your field reporting?
- How does field reporting impact your company at the corporate level?
- How may field reporting be improved for the future and why?
10. What are the most valuable features in mobile field reporting software and why?
In future blog postings, I also intend to review the architect’s role and responsibilities for “On-Site Project Representation,” under AIA Document B207–2008, in particular around the three key aspects of:
- Observing systems and equipment testing.
- Preparing a log of activities at the site.
- Maintaining on-site records.
 AIA B101–2007 Section 2.2.