Keeping Up With Monthly Reports for Construction Projects
written by: Jean Scheid
• edited by: Linda Richter
• updated: 8/31/2011
Status reports, change orders, and even subcontractor status reports are a must on any construction project. An important element here is uniformity and clear communication. Here, Jean Scheid discusses their importance plus some free links to sample forms.
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Hard Hat Musts
If you’re new to construction project management, monthly reporting is an absolute must. Those in charge of monitoring the project need to be updated on a regular basis to identify problems, deal with them, and make decisions based on these reports.
Managing a construction project sounds like a lot of work—and it is, but it’s really no different than following basic project management guidelines.
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Status reports on a monthly basis include elements such as:
Project name – This ensures everyone who receives the report is immediately aware of the project as many construction projects can be managed at one time.
Start date and expected completion date – Reveals the start and completion date of the project.
Number of change orders – Change orders issued during the month, attaching the same with approval signatures.
Time extensions – Time extensions agreed upon during the month.
Percentage of work completed – A scale based on the project timeline to show progress.
Percent variation from schedule – Is the project over or under the estimated timeline and by what percentage?
Detailed list of issues or problems with solutions – This area provides the leader and his team the ability to include any and all issues, problems, weak areas or resources needed. With each of these issues, the manager should include possible solutions or, if empowered to do so, offer up the solutions determined to work best.
Approvals or denials with signatures – All monthly reports, much like other status reports, need to be approved by project sponsors or stakeholders with signatures.
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In construction project management, monthly status reports are not only key to convey areas which need to be overseen, changed or modified but also effective communication tools. Think of these reports as part of your total project communication plan and make them accessible with the most current revisions readily available.
Failing to keep everyone in the loop, no matter what their role on the project, could result in harming the project or even total project failure.
For example, if an empowered team working on the HVAC system determines the chosen vendor’s price is too high and selects another and gets approval, but the old vendor is not notified via the updated status report and effective communication, the project could end up with two sets of HVAC equipment making the project entirely over budget.
While this is an extreme example of what could go wrong without interactive status reports and communication, it should offer you a good idea on how elements in any project can go sideways fast.
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Using the Right Forms - Downloads
The California State University offers an entire manual on how construction projects shall be run, including links to blank monthly status reports, subcontractor updates and change order requests. You can find the link to these blank construction management forms here.
The screenshot to the right (click to enlarge) shows an example of the forms available for download that pertain to the “Services Agreement” which includes the monthly construction project report.
Most files are downloadable and are in a Microsoft Word or Excel format and can be modified to fit your specific project as needed.
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As stated earlier, construction management has many elements, but along with utilizing an effective status report, controlling and monitoring, the project should follow the same rules offered by the PMBOK (Project Management Body of Knowledge) including:
Planning, initiation, assigning tasks, monitoring, controlling and risk management all need to be present in any construction project. Perhaps your change management plan will delve deeper than other types of projects due to the chance and most likely reality of change orders requested by contractors and subcontractors.
The best tools for keeping these items inline throughout the project is using the monthly status report. If you have questions or if after reading reports find problematic areas, don’t wait for the problem to fix itself—it won’t.
Managers working on construction projects must be detailed and organized and use great interpersonal skills to work with vendors, contractors and subs. They must also answer to project sponsors, stakeholders and upper management, especially where budgets and any overruns come into play.
The website Software Advice (link in reference section) offers reviews on various construction project management software available on the market—useful tools if your company can afford the costs. If not, the forms provided by Cal State will work for you to keep your project consistently updated and on track.