Keeping Good Project Records Makes Sense
Contractors can take a variety of steps to minimize cost overruns, keep a project on schedule, and reduce the potential for litigation. One of the most effective is to keep detailed and timely records that cover every aspect of a project from start to finish. Here is an overview of the most important records you should keep for every project.
Recording, classifying, and saving all correspondence related to a project will allow you to follow up on a project’s history from start to finish. Set up separate files for correspondence to and from the owner, the architect, subcontractors, and so on. In addition, create separate files that relate to any changes in the initial specifications and plans.
Do not neglect to date incoming correspondence and to sign, date, and number all outgoing correspondence related to requested changes.
The same goes for any correspondence sent by fax or e-mail. A comprehensive paper trail like this can prove invaluable if any disputes should arise over change orders or payment for change orders.
Typically, as the contractor, you create and deliver a schedule that outlines how your firm intends to accomplish its work within the contract performance period. Sometimes, an owner/developer creates the schedule. Either way, you have to periodically update the schedule to show your progress on the project.
A project schedule can also help you identify potential trouble spots well before they impact your bottom line. In addition, you can use the schedule to help with forecasting how best to allocate your employees and your equipment.
Detailed Job Site Log
Require your project manager or superintendent to maintain detailed daily records of the project’s progress as well as records of any specific conditions that may have a bearing on the project’s planned performance. Apart from their value as a project management tool, you can use these records to identify problems, which, if left unchecked, could threaten the progress and profitability of future projects.
Change Order Log
This is another key piece of documentation you’ll need. Creating a paper trail that is as comprehensive as possible will be helpful if any disputes arise.
Records of Meetings
By scheduling regular meetings, phone calls, and reports to your customers, you’ll be able to minimize any confusion and potential disputes. You can use this time with your customers to discuss:
- Project changes
- Change orders
- Subcontractor issues
- Zoning issues
- Environmental concerns
- Completion time frames
Minutes identify who attended a meeting, when it took place, and what was discussed or decided during the meeting. Since minutes are an important method of documenting contract performance, it’s in your interest to maintain them carefully.
You need a way to track project costs through every phase of the construction process and identify where costs are running over budget. An effective and efficient cost accounting system that allows you to track all direct and indirect costs related to each project is the best way to achieve this goal.
Some of the more common breakdowns of work activities include trade/specialties, phases, or activities noted in the project schedule. Costs should be identified by type (materials, labor, equipment, subcontracted labor, etc.). Keeping your accounting records up to date as a project progresses will give you the financial information you need to make decisions.
If you would like some assistance in developing the systems and the procedures that allow you to maximize your resources, please contact us.
“A project schedule can also help you identify potential trouble spots well before they impact your bottom line.”