Business Management, Job Problems, Estimating, Etc.
When starting a job — particularly a large or complicated project — that the project might eventually end up in litigation, and further that they consider what they might do to protect their interests. This process is called documentation.
by Len Hijuelos
estimating classes at the University of Missouri, one of the things I tried to make the classes aware of was the need for documentation of job problems. I suggested that they consider, when starting a job — particularly a large or complicated project — that the project might eventually end up in litigation, and further that they consider what they might do to protect their interests. This process is called documentation.
That simply means that you document, as they occur, incidents that have or could have an adverse impact on your ability to perform in an efficient, timely and profitable manner. There are several means by which this can be accomplished, but whatever the method, to be meaningful it has to be consistent, accurate and factual.
Within our own company, we use a combination of means: a written job log that is maintained daily by our job superintendent, and a foreman’s report, also done on a daily basis. If the project is such that multiple crews are used, then each foreman will prepare his own report. If not, then the job superintendent will prepare the report, in addition to the log book. The log book and the foreman reports, as I said, are done on a daily basis, and include such information as our crew size and a brief synopsis of what areas of the project we were working on. Any event that might impact or impede our progress is noted.
Camcorders, digital cameras, tape recorders, and letters are used on an “as needed” basis. When we do use audio/visual equipment, in most cases we make sure that the job superintendent or project manager knows we are doing this. It is surprising how quickly problems can be resolved in this way.
When I present this idea to various groups, someone inevitably questions whether or not all of this would adversely impact the relationship with the general contractor. In point of fact, the reaction is usually the opposite. While the general contractor or his people might not particularly care for what you are doing, they usually have somewhat more respect for you as a person who operates in a businesslike manner. In our own relationships, we work with project managers and superintendents who request us to share our reports and who use them to monitor the progress of other trades that closely interact with us.
Like most paperwork, these procedures, whatever they may be and however you structure them, are tedious and time consuming. They are also worth their weight in gold if they help keep you out of court or help win your case in the event there is no other option but litigation.