The primary goal in construction recordkeeping is to manage crucial information to facilitate decision-making. A secondary goal is to document key aspects of the project to provide an audit trail or comply with legal or regulatory documentation requirements. Frequently project participants lose sight of these two important goals; and resort to “wall-papering” the project office with reams of useless documents.
A project recordkeeping system should deal with at least five key areas of information that are crucial to management decision-making and audit trail requirements.
- Financial information includes up-to- to-date project cost data in appropriate categories that will allow analysis of budgeted costs, expenditures to date and projected costs to complete; Other important financial information relates to schedule of values, payments made, payment forecasting, change order costs certified payroll and the detailed bid estimate.
- Change Order records should include an explanation of the scope changes, the reason for the changes, requests for quotations, back-up estimates, negotiation memos, final approved change orders, and releases concerning time and impact costs.
- Time-related documents include contract milestones and completion dates, as-planned critical path method (CPM) schedules, updated and revised schedules.
- Quality records include inspection reports, QA/QC reports, photographs an4 videos, test reports, and certificates.
- Problem documentation provides details and back-up for problems, special issues, disputes and claims.
Construction industry experts have identified several major categories of documentation and over 175 types of records that maybe kept on construction projects. However, many construction managers agree that eight types of records are absolutely crucial to the effective management of projects.
Interestingly, a number of attorneys and expert witnesses also concur that these same eight types of records are the key pieces of evidence in construction litigation. Not that the other records can be ignored; but the bulk of important information is found in these records.
- Daily reports kept contemporaneously by on-site personnel should record the number of workers, key material deliveries, major pieces of operating equipment, work activities in key areas, noteworthy events and problems, weather conditions, and delays.
- Meeting minutes must accurately reflect discussions and decisions including a summary of the matter, mutually agreed resolution, action to be taken, responsible party, and action deadlines.
- Correspondence between all of the project participants should be kept in chronological order in separate files for each major participant (owner, contractor, architect, sub-contractor, vendor). Often the correspondence is filed separately by outgoing and incoming items, with a unique identifying number. Copies may be placed in special issue files to keep abreast of major problems and potential disputes.
- Schedules include as-planned and updated schedules, together with narrative reports, logic diagrams, and computer sorts of Critical Path Method (CPM) schedules.
- Control Logs provide useful summaries and status of changes, submittals, payments requests for information, correspondence and other key records.
- Photographs and videos depict job progress and project conditions are often valuable in disputes relating to pre-existing conditions, delays, terminations, defective work and extensive punchlists.
- Job costs and
- Change orders as previously discussed.
A project documentation system designed to manage information in the five key areas will use these eight types of records to provide project managers with meaningful and current information upon which important decisions can be made to achieve successful construction projects.