Raken and Egnyte Integrate to Sync Construction Project Documentation

We’re excited to announce our recent integration with the enterprise file sharing platform, Egnyte.

Raken and Egnyte

By utilizing the Egnyte and Raken integration, users will automatically add their Raken daily reports, Super Daily subcontractor reports, and photos to their Egnyte project folder, saving time and ensuring compliant and standardized record keeping. Continue reading

Beta testing can help fool-proof your software

Rollout of apps preceded by beta tests

There is a Japanese manufacturing term, poka-yoke, which essentially means “to make mistake-proof.”

It was originally coined as part of the quality-control measures used in Japanese automotive production, but it can apply to virtually any manufacturing system, including the development of software and applications similar to Raken’s daily construction reporting software.

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Customer Spotlight of the Week: Alta Construction Inc.’s Macy’s Century City Project

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This week’s featured Raken client is Tyler Guith at Alta Construction Inc.  Alta Construction Inc. is a full-service, national construction firm with expertise in retail, corporate interiors, hospitality, shopping centers and shell & core construction.  Guith is currently working on Macy’s Century City in Los Angeles, CA.

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Raken’s Slager nominated for most-admired CEO

Raken, the revolutionary software reporting app in construction today, is proud to announce CEO Kyle Slager is a nominee for the 2017 San Diego Business Journal Most Admired CEO Awards. The prestigious distinction recognizes San Diego County’s best and brightest local industry leaders who have taken the helm in driving their businesses to great success.

For more information or to attend, click here.

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Customer Spotlight of the Week: McKinstry’s Ochiltree General Hospital Project

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Our clients work on the most interesting projects, so to showcase their work, we interview them about their jobs! We interviewed Jason Patak, at McKinstry Construction, who is working on a remodel at the Ochiltree General Hospital in Perryton, Texas.

Raken: What’s unique about your project?
Patak: Patient Room Remodel to an existing 50 year old hospital that has not been updated in a number of years. Patients will now get a state of the art room upgrade via finishes, gases, lighting etc.

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Surfboards and fire pits: Raken’s amenities highlight commitment to employees

We believe the right environment creates a healthy company culture

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Our leaders here at Raken, a San Diego-based producer of daily construction and compliance software, know the importance of a good workplace culture, and you should, too. It’s good business sense to keep good employees healthy, engaged and happy. We are happy to share our experiences creating a dynamic workplace culture in the hopes you may, too. Many tech companies face issues with recruiting and retention.

We aspire to be a great place to work, and that’s what led us to make, one of the coolest office campuses in California. Our employees have access to a fitness center, protected surfboard storage, a bike-share locker, fire pit, and private outdoor patios.

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Customer Spotlight of the Week: Southeast Concrete Systems’ Main Event Project

 

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Today’s interview is with Tony Denney at Southeast Concrete Systems.  Southeast Concrete Systems specializes in commercial concrete including foundations, slabs, decks, and tilt wall construction. Their turn-key concrete projects range from smaller 20,000 sf additions to new 250,000+ sf tilt wall projects in various sectors of commercial, retail and industrials sectors of the market throughout the Southeastern US.

Raken: What’s unique about your project?
Denney: The project I’m working on presently is called Main Event in Knoxville, Tn. It’s unique because it’s a tilt wall building.

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Customer Spotlight of the Week: MG Roofing’s Huntsville International Airport Project

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Our customers are working on all sorts of amazing projects.  We interviewed Andrew Langston, a superintendent and PM at MG Roofing.  He’s currently working on a project at the Huntsville International Airport in Alabama.

Raken: What’s unique about your project?
Langston: Using torch down application to waterproof large planters on levels 2, 3, and 4 of the parking deck.

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Customer Spotlight of the Week: S/L/A/M Construction Services’ Gengras Student Union at the University of Hartford

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Here at Raken, we like to feature the interesting projects that our clients are working on! We interviewed Paul Darasz, a superintendent at S/L/A/M Construction Services, who is working on the University of Hartford, Gengras Student Union project.

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From boots on the ground to boots up with Raken

It could be called the “rule of thirds”. Company leaders should spend 33 percent of their time networking; 33 percent leading their team; and 33 percent of their time doing hands-on work.
Yeah, right. Generally something has to give, and it’s typically networking in favor of work.

That can make it hard to build a business, but the Raken Construction App, the No. 1 daily reporting software in the industry, can streamline the oversight of project owners and superintendents in numerous ways:

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The Raken App helps construction superintendents put safety first

As the construction industry continues to claw its way out of the lingering effects of the recession that began in 2008, the number of construction-related fatalities spiked 27 percent between 2011 and 2015, according to Fortune magazine.

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Don’t go old-school – lose that pen and paper and get the Raken App

Pencils are old-school. We’re talking really old – like 5,000 years, according to www.historyofpencils.com. After images came basic writing tools to communicate, then quills and reeds and the pencils and ink pens we know today.

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Three Reasons Superintendents Need the Raken App

Raken is revolutionizing the construction industry with its advanced field management software application. Here are three ways Raken and its No. 1 daily reporting software can make you a better construction superintendent:

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Using Technology to Ward Off Litigation at the Construction Job Site

Construction companies face the threat of litigation for many reasons – from lawsuits filed by unhappy clients to claims from workers injured on the job. Today’s complex construction projects make disputes between stakeholders, contractors and suppliers almost inevitable. These issues can become costly lawsuits if not resolved.  This leads to the necessity of documenting every issue that could result in construction litigation on the job site.

According to APH Law PLLC, reports from the field are a vital component in defending against litigation:

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Overcoming Workforce Inertia: Easy-to-Adopt Technology to Help Construction Firms

The bricks-and-mortar world of construction and engineering is surprisingly slow to adopt the technological advances that drive change in other businesses.  When it happens, however, construction technology software can change the future of the industry.

Out of 19 major American industries surveyed, a 2014 Gartner IT Key Metrics Data report showed that the construction industry only spends 1 percent of revenue on information technology – dead last out of the industries. A factor in this lack of investment is workforce inertia: older workers have never used technology to do their jobs, why should they start now? Who likes to be told how to do their jobs?

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Keeping the Reins on: Using Raken to Help Manage Subcontractors

Let’s face it. Modern construction projects are increasingly complex. They can require the use of more subcontractors, each of whom has to be managed, in multiple locations. Contractors can lose time explaining and overseeing their subs’ assignments.

If that isn’t headache enough, subcontractors can have their own subs. With all this complexity, a project has the potential to cascade out of control without proper management. So how can a general contractor keep rein on a project?

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No more drowning in information: Raken makes daily reports easy

Having to take notes was hassle enough in high school, but when you’re out on a construction site it can downright be a burden. Daily construction reports have always been necessary but can be time-consuming and tedious.

Raken, named the No. 1 daily reporting software and mobile app at Associated General Contractors National, can simplify the process of managing your daily reporting, though. Raken daily reporting app. allows users to save anywhere from 60 to 90 minutes daily with its report typing features. It’s faster, easier daily reporting that frees up field workers from end-of-the-day drudgery.

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5 Ways To Improve Technology Adoption With Subcontractors

Federal_Building_constructionAs a general contractor, you and your employees have bitten the construction tech bullet awhile ago, and have learned to enjoy all of the benefits that the digital revolution has to offer. Or so you think. But what about subcontractors? As construction software becomes more and more important at all levels of a project, subcontractors increasingly need to incorporate it into their work as well. To keep your project moving forward smoothly no matter who’s working on it, below are some suggestions to help all workers easily adjust to the construction technology you need.

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Construction Industry Trends SMB Buyer Report

These days, both software developers and software industry publications are specifically gearing material towards the construction industry in increasing numbers.For example, for the third year in a row, the takeoff software consultancy Software Advice has dedicated an issue to new construction trends within the construction industry. “Our 2016 analysis of trends among construction buyers revealed an interesting finding: While pre-sale functions such as estimating and takeoff continue to top the list of capabilities most often requested by buyers, we found that contractors are increasingly looking for solutions that streamline the actual build process,” says Eileen O’Loughlin, the report author.

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How To Collect Daily Reports From Subcontractors Consistently

Collecting Daily ReportsSubcontractors. You can’t live without them, so you’d better learn to live with them. That’s paraphrasing the old quote a bit, but it’s true all the same. As general contractors are relying more and more on subcontractors for the overall success of a construction project, the importance of effectively managing each sub involved on a jobsite is increasingly important. You’ve already learned how to write a construction report, now we have tips on how to collect your reports for subcontractors.

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5 Construction Blog Ideas For General Contractors

construction blog ideasIt may sometimes seem as if everyone has a blog. Is this a good idea for your company as well? It’s true that in the early days of blogging, the contents of these electronic journals were very much vanity projects, and about as exciting as reading somebody’s diary. But then a funny thing happened to blogs. Bloggers realized that people just weren’t that excited reading about mundane goings on, and to keep readers blogs would have to evolve. And so blogs moved from the adventures of the writer’s cat to a site with general information on cats. Or child or car care, among many other topics. And readership grew. And businesses took notice.

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From Paper To Predictive Analysis In Construction

Tianjin_Construction_SiteConstruction software among many other technological innovations has cut down on reporting time, improved firm communications, made sites safer, and increased project efficiency. The problem is that we’ve gone from an industry where we were all oohing and ahhing over laser levels to having Robbie the Robot as a co-worker seemingly overnight. That’s a lot of construction tech to embrace all at once.

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5 Construction Wearables For The Jobsite

Screen Shot 2016-10-28 at 3.13.58 PMOne of the observations made about why so many firms are so slow to embrace construction technology is that they don’t think that it’s a good fit for site work. And it’s certainly true that in the past, technology tools that other types of business adopted without blinking weren’t always appropriate. The connectivity they needed wasn’t always available in the field. And it’s neither safe nor practical to juggle a handful of tools plus a laptop, plus a smartphone, on top of a girder.

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How High Tech Equipment Tracking Is Changing Construction

Screen Shot 2016-12-05 at 2.34.18 PMOne hears so much about start-ups, high-tech firms, and digital whiz kids that it’s hard to keep track of them all. Not only are there a lot of them, but the vast majority of them seem to disappear after a while as well. Are these firms (and their creators) really worth all of this attention?

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3 Tips For Construction Superintendents To Boost Productivity

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 10.14.43 AMIf you’ve ever had a job, it’s happened to you. It doesn’t matter if you’re a manager or an intern. If you’re working, then you’ve eventually attended at least one meeting or training session that concluded with you thinking “Well, that’s an hour (ninety minutes, day, etc.) out of my life that I’ll never get back”. Unfortunately, if you’re in a supervisory or managerial position, you may have run a meeting like this as well.

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Wearables In Construction Jobsites

Screen Shot 2016-10-28 at 3.13.58 PMWearables at construction jobsites? Is this some new construction fashion trend? Can we now expect to see models strutting down scaffolding? Actually, “wearables” refers to digital technology that the user affixes to a body part as opposed to carrying it. The idea behind this type of technology is that users can use data without having to use their hands. “Wearables” devices have been a science fiction staple for many decades. Considering the many ways that the technology could be applied in real life from operating rooms to the upper floors of a half-constructed building, many people were excited. Then the first wearables showed up.

But instead of the sleek wristbands and eye pieces people were expecting, these devices were large and heavy. They seemed to combine all of the worst elements of ski goggles and welding masks, only they were less comfortable to wear. These first wearables were plagued by many “bugs” as well. Major problems concerned connectivity and power issues. These wearables either couldn’t run very long on a battery charge or be disconnected from a power source at all. It also definitely wasn’t cheap. But those were the first wearables.

Wearable technology produced within the last five years is lighter, sturdier, and more practical than its predecessors. It’s still not cheap, but a study conducted by Dr. Chris Brauer at the Institute of Management Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London is encouraging. It shows that these new wearables can be practically applied in a number of job scenarios. The results would be happier, more productive, and safer employees. And happy, safe and productive employees are certainly what superintendents and foremen want to see at jobsites. But although construction tech devices and construction software are becoming much more common in the industry, do watchers see these wearables ever being much utilized? The surprising truth is that wearable technology in construction is being used right now at a number of active sites. For example:

Seeing What They See
XOEye Industrial Technologies has developed a “cloud-based ocular system” which involves on-site workers wearing glasses with cameras that tap into the internet. Images they see are then projected onto a screen via a computer in real time. This means that their managers can:

  • observe project work away from the site
  • make sure that safety practices are being observed
  • both train and participate in training away from the site

Lighting The Way To Worker Safety
The only thing more dangerous than doing construction road work during the day? Doing it at night. But the Halo Light is what manufacturer Illumagear calls a “360° personal active safety system” that wraps around any hard hat. Non-wearers can see its light from a quarter mile away. And the wearer’s area is brightly lit in all directions up to the edge of his or her peripheral vision.

Talk To The Arm
Thalmic Labs’ “smart armband” Myo allows users with arm movements or gestures to conduct wireless conservations or combine images with construction software for permanent photographs and graphics.

Other upcoming construction technology in 2017 to look forward to? Microsoft’s HoloLens is currently being field tested by some construction firms at select sites. While still too large to be used practically, ongoing improvements are being made to this “hologram” device that allows users to see images superimposed over or beside “real life” ones. With images like the HoloLens, it’s anticipated that everything from as-builts to invoices will be reviewed in the field more quickly, safely, and hands-free.

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NEW: 4 New Improvements You Asked For…

1. QuickSign on the web
One-click signature of your daily reports. Simply quick “QuickSign” to automatically email your daily reports.

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Key Qualities Of Successful Construction Superintendents

6254504140_02ba059874_bSuperintendents play a vital role in any construction project. But it’s not simply enough to have one on board to ensure a good outcome for your project. You need one who is successful in their endeavors. Successful means a superintendent who works effectively with every aspect of a project to get it done on time, on budget, and safely. Such successes result in profit and future work for firms. Obviously, a successful superintendent is one you want to have on a jobsite all the time. So what attributes should firms be looking for in hiring such superintendents? And even more importantly, what can they contribute to ensuring that these successes continue? Also see our 5 Traits That Make an Effective Construction Superintendent. Continue reading

Importance Of Proper Documentation In Creating A Safe Jobsite

7797524972_5469637ddf_oThere are many reasons for creating a “paper trail”. To protect oneself or a business from potential litigation. To provide others with instructions or directives for completing a task. And to create more effective and safer workplaces. And the construction industry is badly in need of safer workplaces.

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Benefits Of Field Reporting For Construction Companies

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Given all of the paperwork that is part and parcel of a construction project, it’s understandable that project managers and superintendents don’t particularly want to do more. And given all of the updating that does go on throughout the project process, is it truly necessary to do project reporting on a daily basis? The short answers to that would be yes, and that it’s not a bad idea. Yes, because a number of clients particularly government ones, now require daily reports on topics ranging from crew safety meetings to subcontractors’ man hours. And it’s not a bad idea because even if your firm is working for a client who does not require daily reporting, your staff should still create these records both to protect your business, and to create a tool that can be referenced for future projects.

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Types Of Construction Disputes And How To Avoid Them

ic-3One of the unfortunate aspects of working in this industry is the amount of time construction firms spend bogged down in court. The construction field has the dubious distinction of being one of the professions most likely to be involved in litigation either as plaintiffs or defendants.  Veterans within the industry say that there are various reasons for this, but the single largest cause for this preponderance of lawsuits is miscommunication between parties.  Such miscommunication could be between companies and clients, contractors, and subcontractors, or suppliers and warehouses.  In many cases, the initial problem snowballs from manageable to disastrous because necessary documents and/or instructions were not understood by all parties or were not complete, or site work was not documented. Continue reading

Introducing: Work Log Rollover

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Autonomous Equipment In Construction: Anytime Soon?

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If you’re a fan of both vehicles and Disney movies, then odds are good that you’ve seen the original, the remake, or possibly both versions of The Love Bug. In this movie, Herbie, the loveable little VW wins races, patches up fractured romances, foils criminal plots, stays spotless, and apparently needs no fuel of any kind. And best of all, he can drive (and presumably parallel park) himself. Audiences at least enjoyed the movie’s fantasy of an automated car, but nearly fifty years after the film’s initial release, self-driving cars are on the horizon, and in everyone’s future. Automotive experts think by the time Love Bug III debuts in the mid- 21st century, almost all drivers will be transported by completely automated autos. Continue reading

5 Revolutionizing Technologies In Construction

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We’ve all been hearing a great deal about how construction management is being enhanced and improved by emerging technologies. Indeed, many of you reading this can probably think of examples of ways that you’re currently employing all the new technology in construction job sites, from hybrid vehicles to software that snaps selfies. Since we’re also an industry that’s reluctant to try new ways of doing things, your willingness to do this is good news. But that technology you may be using now is but the tip of the iceberg. There are a number of new construction technologies either available now or in the pipeline that one day soon will be as ubiquitous on a construction site as scaffolding. Continue reading

How To: Manage Construction Progress Photos

Background image RakenYou’ve heard a lot about the importance of construction daily reports. There’s no downplaying the importance of the photographs that accompany them, too. The human brain comprehends and remembers visual images more readily than written ones. Properly curated and used images can be an important part of all types of reports, from dailies to special ones prepared for shareholder meetings. These images can be progress photos, point out safety hazards, show that environmental issue that might delay a project, or unfortunately, be used as litigation evidence. Continue reading

Mastering The Creation Of Construction Daily Reports

Creating Daily Reports

Given all of the challenges of working on a busy project site, it would seem that the creation, filing, and curation of project reports wouldn’t be all that challenging. But managers and superintendents should by no means underestimate the importance of reporting, especially daily reporting. Sure, it’s a slog to track down data and fill out report sheets, but this seemingly mundane material:

  • Provides in-depth information on an active project
  • Can serve as a warning system
  • Serves as evidence in litigation cases

Part of the reason reporting is regarded with such “non-love” by those in the construction industry is the way in which reporting information is recorded and filed. Surprisingly, while their grandmothers are all out playing Pokémon Go, many in the construction industry are laboriously copying field report notes by hand, then transcribing them over onto report forms again when in the firm office. Aside from giving individuals a definite case of “reportingitis”, odds unfortunately increase of losing data and missing important reporting deadlines when using these antiquated methods.

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5 Reasons To Collaborate Using Cloud Based Construction Software

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Yes, social experts are concerned that as we head with ever more confidence down that digital highway, we’re inadvertently isolating ourselves in front of glowing screens. And while they have a point, there’s no getting around the fact that “doing it digitally” makes life faster, easier, and for businesses, both more profitable and cost efficient.

And with the advance of “cloud” based platform technology, which allows for software access directly through the internet, it’s even easier to share information and conduct business without having to be in the same room (or even the same country) with other individuals. This work doesn’t even have to be done with a traditional computer either, as software apps allow smartphones and tablets to become the new place of business.

Construction firm geeks everywhere are now flying their freak flags proudly as colleagues scramble to embrace what they knew all along, but there are a number of non “because it’s cool” reasons to adopt this new technology as well. Below are just a few reasons to adopt cloud based construction project management software into jobsites.

1. Because It’s Cost Effective
One of the reasons firms are hesitant about embracing new software is that in the past they could only be used in a limited way, usually in a single office setting. But with cloud technology, information can be shared across “basic” equipment like smartphones and tablets, eliminating the need for expensive new hardware. This means that partners can contribute data without making those expensive purchases, too. Raken’s cloud construction software for example, includes a feature for sub-contractors called Super Daily that permits free data collaboration.

2. Because It Allows Greater Access
One of the problems with internet use at work was that it meant literally having to plug into a grounded box. Since even the head-hunters of New Guinea have WiFi now, it’s almost impossible for contractors to not be able to plug into cloud based software from a variety of remote sites.

3. Because It Allows For Real-Time Collaboration
Consider the amount of time that gets spent on setting up project meetings, not to mention the amount of time going-and-coming and the actual meetings themselves. Wouldn’t it be great to have all project participants do this remotely? Software like Raken allows this to happen, even allowing CEOs and stakeholders to participate in this process. And Raken’s Super Daily allows subcontractor daily reports and manpower hours to be sent directly to the general contractor’s report. In addition, by using Super Daily, subcontractors can add their own notes, observations, quality control observations, safety observations, and project photos to a project report from almost any location, meaning that GC superintendents aren’t wasting time and effort tracking down and collating this information on their own.

4. Because It Allows For Greater Storage
Paper and even older software programs create bulky files that are difficult to copy and share. Cloud-based internet storage areas can hold the equivalent of the content of eighty-five filing cabinets, meaning that any device can now be an architect’s office.

5. Because It Makes Firms Money
With time and expenses saved in fewer face to face meetings, data collated more quickly from different sources, and less time spent on reporting in general, document sharing and other features offered by cloud-based software make it a venture well worth investing in.

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Leveraging The Cloud In Construction Technology

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 4.48.33 PMFor the last several years you’ve been seeing and hearing all about “the cloud”. How everyone has it. How everyone thinks that it’s great. And now you’re learning that many businesses, including construction firms, are hopping aboard this cloud bandwagon. You’ve been dissatisfied with your firm software for awhile now. Maybe it’s time to get yourself some of this cloud stuff, too. But what exactly is it? Continue reading

Maintaining Good Relationships Between General Contractors and Subcontractors

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 4.27.33 PM“I mean, it’s not like they actually work for us”. And true, subcontractors are not an official part of your construction firm. Given how many different ones that you may work with over the course of your professional lifetime, it’s easy to be dismissive of their work and take their contributions to a project for granted. Continue reading

Top 5 Benefits Of Construction Management Software

andr-minApplications. The cloud. Streaming video. Keyword searches. Are these so-called perks of the digital revolution true rewards, or are they the 21st century’s answer to Pong, VHS, and DOS? Given the ever-changing digital landscape and its expenses, is it worth bothering with the products and programs now being offered to the construction industry?

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Tips For Embracing Mobile Technology At Construction Jobsites

Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 4.53.38 PMWe’ve written here before more than once about the many benefits of employing mobile devices as computers at construction work sites. They’re portable. Cables, wiring, and only being able to hook into intra-office internet systems are no longer issues. Employees with a wide range of IT abilities find them easy to use. And while these tiny phones and tablets do have some limitations, they also have the technological capacity to operate some of NASA’s toys.

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New Raken Tools Are Live!

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Importance Of User Acceptance When Purchasing Construction Software

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ULTREX is here! This is so exciting! You’ve been eager to try a construction software package that will reduce time you spend with construction documents, and the ULTREX rep assured you that this was the product for you. She made it sound like ULTREX would do everything including hang sheetrock for your team, and all with reliable customer service, too. Staff problems adjusting to it and using it? No worries! If you can breathe, you can use ULTREX! So now the big day is here, and-what’s this? Everyone hates ULTREX, and refers to it as “Ugly”. Office staffers are complaining that it has slowed the firm’s computer system to a crawl. Field workers are having to drive into the office to log data into ULTREX, further slowly things down. And you’re thinking of adding an additional IT person to the staff, because that “reliable” customer service has turned out to be pretty unreliable. Continue reading

3 Questions To Consider Before Committing To Construction Software

ic-3The construction industry has gone with remarkable rapidity from being very nervous about embracing new digital technologies for work, to adopting them with great enthusiasm. This in turn has led to some growing pains. Which in turn has made some firms sitting on the digital fence nervous about taking on such technologies themselves. Which they shouldn’t be. Because the problem isn’t that there’s necessarily something wrong with these products themselves, but that they’re being used inappropriately. Take construction software, for example.

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AGC IT Forum Conference To Take Place August 3-5

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The Associated General Contractors Of America (AGC) will be offering a information technology seminar August 3-5 in Chicago. Conference attendees can expect plenty of live technology demonstrations during this three day event, in addition to keynote addresses, panel discussions, and lectures delivered by industry leaders in the construction tech field.

Speakers include Blue Collar Labs founder Karl Sorensen, who will be joining forces with “construction app guru” Rob McKinney to bring their popular “construction technology roadshow” to Chicago and send conference goers home with information on current and upcoming tech products that will be used by construction firms and IT companies alike.

The Con Tech Trio comprised of Rob McKinney, James Benham, and Josh Bone of JB Knowledge, a leading construction IT company will also be present. Between them, McKinney, Bone, and Benham bring a wealth of knowledge on BIM and mobile applications, software, and cloud platforms. Their podcast will not only be a lively way to spread this knowledge over the airwaves, but to share it with the podcast’s in-house audience as well.

And addition to speakers, shows, and demonstrations, construction software representatives will be on hand to discuss their products and how they can benefit firms. Raken for daily reporting will be among them. Raken of course, offers many other features in addition to effective real time daily reporting via mobile devices, and we look forward to seeing you at the IT Forum to show you how we can help your firm succeed not just this summer, but for many summers to come. To meet the Raken team, just schedule a 15-minute slot on this calendar.

How Eliminating Paperwork Can Save You Thousands

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 2.28.30 PM“What’s this? Construction project paperwork is not only tedious, it’s financially wasteful, and should be stopped? Quick, grab the confetti and turn up the music!”

Alright, alright, stop that happy dancing. Don’t misunderstand us. We’re not implying that project documentation has suddenly become obsolete. If anything, timely and complete documentation is more important than ever within our evolving industry. But there’s a better way of doing it. Construction software allows users to now complete daily, weekly, monthly, and special reports more quickly and legibly. And a software product like Raken for daily reporting allows for documentation in real time, plus features like streaming video. This means that these digital reports are often the next best thing to being physically present on a daily basis on a job site. Getting those tedious reports done more easily certainly sounds like a plus. But software packages like Raken don’t just save time, they can save firms considerable amounts of money as well. Below we describe how to save money in construction:

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How Doable Would Be Pokemon Go For Construction Reporting?

Screen Shot 2016-07-15 at 1.54.36 PMAngry Birds. Warcraft. Minecraft. Since the advent of the digital revolution, it seems that there’s an iconic new computer game coming out every five minutes. And the hottest by far these days is Pokémon Go. This game takes characters from the perennially popular Japanese “pocket monster” sensation and has players try to track them down on a hunt. The “weapon” used on this particular safari is the camera embedded in a player’s smartphone. Players track Pokémon characters out of doors, comparing an on-screen map to real life locations. Augmented reality (AR) technology takes control of the phone’s camera at certain phases of the game, and as the player looks at real life locations through the camera, a Pokémon character appears, seemingly part of the real-life landscape. Players then use on-screen devices to try to capture the creature. Continue reading

From Paper To Digital: Evolution of Construction Technology

Old daily reportAs tedious as paperwork can seem to construction, its importance is undeniable. Well-documented construction projects are safer, more efficient, and ultimately, more profitable ones. Construction site documentation has existed for about as long as construction itself. Historical examples are still in existence rendered on “mediums” ranging from cuneiform, to papyrus, to parchment. But until the wide introduction of modern day paper about two hundred and twenty years ago, documented accounts of construction projects were sporadic at best, and the information these early reports contained was quite spotty. This was often deliberate, to avoid giving away “trade secrets” to competitors. Continue reading

5 Facts About The Collaboration Nature Of Construction Jobsites

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 10.14.43 AM“No man is an island”, said metaphysical 17th century poet John Donne. And while he was referring to humanity’s need for each other in general, the phrase has some relevancy to the construction industry as well. Successful projects don’t happen here without the successful collaborative efforts of a project team as a whole. But there are some key partnerships within this group that very much affect the outcome of a project. Below are a few examples of the collaboration in construction. Continue reading

3 Tips For Managing A Construction Site Effectively

3063632328_55f14099de_o“Doing good work gets you more work”. While that statement would seem to be a no-brainer, the reality is that construction projects, like any other workplace, have become more hectic over the years. Lots and lots to do, but less time and fewer people to get these tasks accomplished. So how can project superintendents keep effective management of construction sites in the face of ever-increasing workplace challenges? Below are a few tips to help keep a firm and its projects safe, efficient, and profitable. Continue reading

New Tech Helping Construction Companies Become More Profitable

Screen Shot 2015-11-06 at 10.27.08 AMThere’s no denying that the construction industry has been slow to hop on the technology bandwagon. But it is possible to teach an old dog new tricks. Thanks to Raken and other types of new technology for construction, firms are saving both considerable time and money in doing reporting and other types of paperwork. And the benefits for the industry don’t just stop there. While some of the latest innovations in construction technology “in the hopper” won’t be seen for awhile at project sites, they’ll be taken for granted in another decade or two. Below are just a few of the ones that will be making construction sites in the near future smarter, safer, more efficient, and more profitable. Continue reading

Why You Should Ask Your Contractor What Software They Use

DEC_VT100_terminal When you’re window shopping for a construction firm for your dream project, there are certain things that you’re going to be checking for. The quality of the contractor’s work on previous projects, for example. The reputation of the firm’s integrity is another. But the type of construction software that your potential contractor uses probably won’t be one of the criteria you’ll be checking on. Your goal is a safe, stable, quality structure, done on time. Should you really care what that firm is doing on its computers expect perhaps for pulling up and printing out your invoice?

Actually, you should. Paperwork has long been a part of construction, and not just in terms of billing. Project management relies on efficient paperwork for everything from daily reporting, to scheduling, to subcontractor activity, to payroll. A half century ago, such notes were recorded by hand on sites, then laboriously typed up, either in a field office if one was available, or done in the contractor’s main office if not. In either case, delay and possibly misplacement of these reports might be the case. And while lost or tardy paperwork would seem to be a contractor’s problem, and not a client’s, such issues can help to create project delays, safety issues, and projects being shut down altogether.

The right field reporting software is especially important, as it allows contractor employees to write and file reports from almost anywhere. This means that reports can quickly and properly be written and submitted, so that they can be reviewed and approved more rapidly, allowing projects to stay on schedule. Raken construction software for daily reporting allows contractors to save from sixty to ninety minutes a day in routine report completion. This software for contractors also allows them to author weekly and monthly reports on everything that affects a construction project, from project progress (or reasons for delays), to payroll, and other cost tracking. And the right reporting software like Raken’s can be utilized in a number of ways that can help a project to move safely and efficiently along.

So. Software that keeps projects on time, on budget, and that helps to insure safe and efficient completion? It sounds as though not only contractors should be seeking this technology out for their firms. Potential project clients should also be checking up on what contractors are using, to insure the best possible outcome for their dream projects.

3 Communication Tips For Construction Teams

Screen Shot 2016-06-24 at 11.14.51 AMNot too long ago, when a group of construction executives and industry experts were asked in a survey what they thought some of the construction industry’s biggest problems were, at the top of the list was communication. What kinds of communication, exactly? Between CEOs and shareholders? Architects and clients? Superintendents and foremen? Well, everybody really, said those surveyed. And they felt these construction site communication problems affected every aspect of construction work, from contracts, to scheduling, to deliveries, to safety, to dealing with subcontractors. Knowing the source of a problem is an important first step in fixing it. In the words of the Captain from Cool Hand Luke, “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate”. Knowing this, how should we in the construction industry move forward to fix it?

Continue reading

Purchasing Construction Software That Will Save You Thousands

Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 4.53.38 PM“It’s the little things that mean a lot”. These aren’t just catchy song lyrics, they’re words of wisdom in business. Especially in the construction industry, where one wrong move can have disastrous results, even seemingly small ones. Take paperwork, for example. Those schedules, tables, graphs, and very dry language wouldn’t seem to have much to do with getting that project built. But late, incomplete, incorrectly done, or lost construction documentation can result in lost contracts, delays, fines, lawsuits, and non-payment. The potential loss of all of that money doesn’t make a little writer’s cramp seem all that bad, does it? Besides, given all of the software out there these days to assist with daily report writing, writer’s cramps are hardly necessary. Nor is scrambling to find a place to do paperwork in the field, making road trips to collaborate on reports, or involving an entire IT team to make changes to a document. Continue reading

How GCs Choose Subcontractors For Their Construction Job

Looking for subcontractorsAs any general contractor knows, despite the skill level and professionalism of their own employees, it’s a subcontractor who can make or break a job. Contractors can be both a superintendent’s delight and worse nightmare. For all intents and purposes, when they’re working on a project site, subcontractors are the employees of the GC, even though they’re not. Certainly, clients don’t know the difference. As a result, unprofessional behavior and shoddy work by subcontractors are laid at the feet of the contractor. And in addition to having a potentially adverse affect on a firm’s reputation, subcontractors can cause plenty of other problems, ranging from project delays to safety issues. So selecting the right subcontractors for a project is no small thing. Contractors looking for subcontractors is such a big thing in fact, that academic studies have been conducted on this issue.

The authors of a white paper financed by the Housing and Building National Research Center explain that so much research and related surveys have been done on construction subcontractors, that researchers have been able to develop computer algorithms that can select attributes of the best subcontractors. According to the paper, there are forty six separate qualities that general contractors are looking for when making their hiring selections. But the computer didn’t decide this on its own. Instead, it looked at data compiled both from surveys and questionnaires filled out by a number of experts in the construction industry.

What to look for in a subcontractor

What contracting firms are looking for in subcontractors isn’t surprising. Ones who charge reasonable fees are a plus, of course. But what contractors are also looking for in subcontractors are ones who are conscientious about work quality and habits. They also want to work with subcontractors who:

  • have proven work histories
  • have good reputations
  • are specialists
  • can guarantee quality control
  • don’t have disruptive work habits
  • practice good safety habits
  • don’t create unnecessary messes or noise
  • can keep up with the contractor’s schedule
  • work well with suppliers, and delivery issues are minimal

This dependence on subcontractors isn’t unique to American firms, either. While other nationalities may assign different values to the criteria of hiring subcontractors, the paper shows that they are essential to construction internationally.

As construction firms struggle to find qualified employees, and are becoming increasingly reliant on the services of an electrical subcontractor or a mechanical sub among many others, what are the best ways to guarantee dream temporary employees? Asking friends and other contractors is one time proven way, while other methods might be to inquire at specialty suppliers, or talk to homeowners who recently have had work done. And once a firm finds the right subcontractors, they should hang onto them with both hands, as the need for these specialists will only increase as we advance into the 21st century.

Looking for a better way for your subcontractors to log their dailies? Try Raken free for 14-days.

How To Write A Daily Construction Report That Matters

Daily Construction ReportWhile most people don’t go into the construction field to do lots of paperwork, there’s no escaping the fact that for some employees, it’s a regular part of the job. Project superintendents, for example, usually find themselves tasked with writing the daily construction report (DCR). This report is admittedly not an assignment in pleasurable creative writing. But there’s no denying its importance to the success, and even the legality, of a construction project. These construction daily log forms contain information that has long been required for Federal projects. Increasingly, state and municipal governing bodies are calling for it, too. And in addition to providing required information, a daily report can: Continue reading

Raken Named Best App For Construction Reporting

tsheets-top-ten-constuction-apps-badge_printRaken was named the Best Construction App for Reporting by TSheets, a business software leader in tracking, managing, and reporting time. TSheets periodically issues “Best Of Awards” to various industry products, looking for features that help a company to run more efficiently and productively. Being able to be mastered quickly, and the ability to be used easily by employees certainly doesn’t hurt in the eyes of TSheets’ judges, either. In its most recent contest, construction apps were the competitors, with a whopping one hundred nominees being considered. Winners and runner-ups were selected in ten different categories. Continue reading

Constructing A Safe Workplace Environment

As they say, “Accidents happen.” Unfortunately, an awful lot of them seem to befall us at work. This doesn’t mean that employees should call in sick and hide under their beds. On the contrary, over the last decade, incidents of workplace injury and illness have decreased. Similar results have been reported for other industrialized nations, such as Great Britain and Canada. Why is this happening? Analysts think it’s the result of a variety of reasons, ranging from better workplace communications and training, to safer equipment and adherence to procedures. And yet the quest for a completely accident-free work place hasn’t been fulfilled. Three out of every one hundred American workers in the last year fell victim to workplace related illness or injury. And the construction injury remains among the leaders in this field. Because of the dangerous nature of this type of work, it’s not surprising that many mishaps are construction related. In 2012 for example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that twenty percent of all victims of labor fatalities were employed in the construction industry. Continue reading

Construction Bidding Best Practices To Help Your Margins

Steel_construction Since construction firms live or die by the projects that they successfully bid on, it’s easy to see how a knee-jerk mentality towards bids can develop. However, the feeling that a firm must bid on all projects available at all costs can just as easily lead to a firm’s downfall. Engaging in aggressive bidding wars can result in winning a contract, and being legally obligated to complete it at a price far, far, below what it’s worth. Or perhaps a firm snaps up bids so quickly that they don’t take time to learn all the details of a pending project, and end up struggling to complete a project that in hindsight, the firm shouldn’t have taken on at all. Continue reading

Can Microsoft’s HoloLens Be Effectively Applied To Construction

Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 5.39.05 PMIf the latest variation on “Google Glass” works out as well as its developers and producers hope, you may be seeing construction workers and architects wearing some very funny looking sunglasses. Microsoft’s HoloLens, the product in question, is the latest generation of what is best described as a “wearable super computer”. Much like the much talked about Oculus Rift, a wearer secures the device to his or her head, and looks through and responds to images he or she sees. But whereas Oculus Rift is a self-contained device that immerses its user in a virtual reality (VR) world, the HoloLens deals in augmented reality (AR). Augmented reality is defined as “computer-generated sensory input”, appearing over fixed real life images. That science fiction movie where characters suddenly call up a mid-air streaming video newsfeed in their living room? Or suddenly insert a 3-D user’s guide over the spaceship part that they’re trying to fix? That’s AR in action.

But AR isn’t just the stuff of fiction any more. This technology has been with us for awhile, and car manufacturer BMW has actually been using AR at some of its assembly lines and in other manufacturing areas for the last couple of years. And Microsoft has begun an aggressive push to interest the U.S. military in the maintenance and engineering possibilities of AR.

Because this device is hands-free and wireless, designers in many industries are interested in its possibilities. And as this video shows, the ability to insert designs with in-progress work could make AR very beneficial on construction projects, as could the ability to call up 3-D floor plans, instruction manuals, and other documents from any location.

But before you authorize that intern to run down to the electronics store and pick up a few pairs for your firm, a few cautions. Not only is this technology costly at $3,000 a pair, Microsoft is currently only making it available to application designers. The company has not indicated when the HoloLens will be available to the public at large. Technology experts invited to field-test the device say that while the viewing experience is “magical”, the device is many months away from release to the public. Design problems include difficulty in activating it, and disappearing and reappearing AR images.

So while it will probably be years before one mistakes a construction site for a scene from Star Trek, the HoloLens has definite potential as a construction tool in terms of design, maintenance, and documentation. This Hololens for construction is a technology whose progress managers should follow.

Managing A Construction Jobsite Remotely

Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 4.53.38 PMIt’s certainly good news when a construction firm has multiple projects going on at the same time. While project managers appreciate that job security as much as anyone else, it doesn’t make their lives any easier. Other types of businesses try to accommodate busy employees by offering them work-from-home opportunities, and many of them find that offering this type of work option actually increases employee productivity. Continue reading

3 Reasons For Construction Superintendents To Keep Daily Logs

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 1.14.47 PMWith everything that’s going on in the very busy life of a active construction site, worrying about the keeping and curating of daily construction logs may seem excessive. After all, one of the reasons doing daily reporting is a task no one wants to get stuck with is that it’s time consuming to do. Not to mention tedious. And if we’re mentioning tedious, we might as well bring up repetitive. Sure, sometimes big, dramatic changes (both good and bad) happen at a construction site, but let’s be honest. There are days as well when it just seems to be more of that same old, same old. Is it really necessary to keep track of it on a daily basis?

But if daily reporting will never exactly be “fun”, reporting construction software packages like Raken certainly make them much faster to do. And with options ranging from automatic notifications to inserted streaming video,
a Raken report allows its writers a good deal more creativity, while retaining professional formats. And relevance and clarity aren’t the only reasons superintendents have for keeping fully completed reports on a daily basis……

1. Legal Reasons
All federal, most state, and an increasing number of local governments require contractors to file and eventually produce daily reports on topics ranging from staff safety meetings to employees present. And a correctly completed and filed daily report can be a firm’s best friend in legal matters, whether they’re the plaintiff or the defendant.

2. Lessons Learned
In chronicling construction daily activity, scribes are recording both best and bad site practices, information that can be both used (or avoided) to achieve good results on similar future projects.

3. Change Happens
While everyone wants that project to rocket along to a satisfying conclusion, the reality of construction projects is that there are often delays, and frequent work starts and stoppages. And it’s not just payroll procedures and subcontractor safety protocols that managers will have to recollect. During delays and work stoppages, firm, partner, and stakeholder personnel may come, go, and be promoted internally.

Well-kept and curated daily notes not only help construction staff to remember important work details and contact information, it helps partners and others both get into the loop or never leave it at all. So rather than being looked at as a tedious daily drag, that superintendent daily report should be appreciated for what it is. It’s an important document that protects both firms and customers, and helps to produce projects that are fast, safe, and profitable.

How Construction Daily Reports Save Thousands In Litigation

Screen Shot 2016-05-20 at 11.09.02 AMAs they say, it seems as though if you assume the worst, the worst never happens. Likewise, it seems that if you take the “don’t worry, be happy” approach, trouble comes looking for you. It’s not that magical thinking rules the business world. Rather, an abundance of preparation and explanation means that a construction superintendent has a more smoothly functioning site, and protection for those more bumpy periods.

Daily logs will never be one of a supervisor’s favorite things to do, but this daily reporting is essential. In addition to serving as an effective way to deal with everything from safety issues to supply chains, daily reports for construction projects can help firms prevail in litigation cases, and better still, keep them from happening altogether. How so? Consider this real life California case.

“Mrs. X” was having major renovations done to her hillside dwelling. Preliminary investigation indicated that because of severe sloping and probable unstable soil, soldier piles would have to be installed. Only examination by a qualified inspector could confirm this situation for a certainty. But the probability of having to have this work done seemed so likely, that the homeowner agreed to add $100,000 to her construction budget for this hill stabilization.

When inspection time arrived, due to ground settling, the inspector determined that this extensive stabilization wouldn’t be necessary after all. However, unforeseen engineering issues on other parts of the project had arisen, and to cover the cost of these necessary modifications, the firm used “the hill fund”.

The client was unhappy with the finished product for various reasons, and the case ended up in court. Among the plaintiff’s complaints was that the firm discovered that hill stabilization wouldn’t be necessary, but kept the “hill fund”, and overcharged her. Although the construction firm ultimately prevailed, this litigation resulted in a time consuming six week trial, and a firm loss of $75,000.

Had the firm in question kept proper daily reports for construction projects, everyone’s “day in court” could have been avoided altogether. Software programs like Raken for daily reporting doesn’t just mean a faster, more efficient daily report for a firm’s internal use. It also means a real-time report that can easily be shared with clients. One that allows for the inclusion of photos, graphics, and other reports, to help explain changes to projects, and show how money is being used. Such sharing helps make a client become a true project partner, and helps to avoid misunderstandings that can lead to construction litigation. In cases where litigation is unfortunately unavoidable, Raken’s features can also be used to create court-appropriate documents that can help firms prevail in litigation. So while the “bells and whistles” of a construction software package may seem to some to be unneeded preparation, a savvy superintendent knows that this small expenditure can save firms considerably larger ones down the road.

How to set up real-time field notifications

Construction Daily Report Template For Superintendents

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 1.14.47 PMWhile it may sometimes seem as though a construction site superintendent does everything on site including washing out the coffee pot and turning out the lights, it isn’t quite that bad. But he or she does have a number of duties, which usually includes making out or at least overseeing the submission of daily reports.

By now, even if they aren’t paper pushers, most in the construction industry are aware that software exists to both allow a wide variety of daily reports to be done digitally, and to be done on a variety of mobile devices. For a busy general contractor, this does make daily reporting both easier and quicker, if not more enjoyable. But one perk of doing reports in this manner is that a daily log here can be customized. Such report files might not win awards for artistic creativity, but a customized daily report template digitally created and stored has multiple benefits. It means that in a superintendent’s absence, another filer can find, update, and submit reports, making sure that a project stays on schedule. Accessible templates also mean that reports are filed consistently and accurately, always important since these reports have weight as legal documents. And a construction daily report may be viewed, edited, and commented on by any number of people, including shareholders, so a customized daily construction report template should be easily recognizable, and not so “customized” that it’s unprofessional looking.

The essential function of a daily report is to chronicle the various activities that affect a project, ranging from presence of workers, to weather conditions, to deliveries, to work progress. Assume that at a minimum, your report will include daily updates on this. Since this is a digital construction daily log template, and on the internet showing means as much as telling, assume that this template will need to include fields for photos and graphics as well.

So now that you know what you want this daily report to contain, how do you achieve it? By purchasing construction software like Raken for daily reporting, contractors are getting an application compatible with the most commonly used systems, that allows superintendents to create a multi-page template for everything from manpower hours to notes within minutes,that can be accessed by users within seconds. So while daily reports may never be fun, with software like Raken, it will be fast, efficient, professional, and easily accessible to all appropriate parties.

Implementing Construction Software For Contractors

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 10.14.43 AM Okay. You’ve gotten an earful from colleagues about how great it is. You’ve done the research. And you’ve persuaded the main office to give it a try. It’s finally time to integrate daily reporting software into your construction firm. And why not? You’ve certainly heard fantastic things about construction software. How it can reduce reporting time from anywhere from sixty to ninety minutes a day. How it assures legible, industry standard reporting. And how these reports can be stored safely and securely online for years.

And construction software for contractors is especially geared to their special needs. For example, many of these packages now come with a mobile device application. This means that this daily reporting app allows phones and tablets to be used for doing this reporting, further adding to general convenience.

But software implementation should always be approached with caution in the workplace. Many an office has purchased the latest trendy, flashy, software package, only to discover that it’s totally inappropriate for their needs. While the right construction software can lead to time and money saved and profits made, the wrong package can be an expensive and embarrassing disaster. So how does a construction company make sure that they’re picking the right product and implementing it throughout the organization successfully?

In addition to not being swayed by the latest bells and whistles, pick a software package that anyone in your firm could learn to use with relative ease. At the same time, accept that there needs to be a training period for any new product, and that everyone learns at different speeds. And make sure that this is a program that employees will actually use, and that it is compatible with the devices that they normally use. And finally, while such software will ultimately save and help your firm to make money, accept that money will have to be first spent, both in purchasing and training.

And get your money’s worth out of that product’s sales team. Yes, they want your sale, but they want you to be a satisfied customer so that you’ll be a returning one. Make them earn that money by asking plenty of pre-sale questions and running particular work place scenarios past them.

And be sure to shop around for the right construction software for contractors. Raken‘s daily reporting software has made it an industry leader for multiple reasons. Its daily reporting app is compatible with the heavily used Android and iOS systems, for example. And once that construction report app is on devices, thanks to Raken’s cloud technology, users are accessing its software within seconds. No long download wait times, or software that can’t download at all! Users can access this contracting software without a mobile app as well, and the result is an entire firm working together within a program quickly, able to remotely review and collaborate on each other’s work in real time.

There’s no doubt that construction contracting software can be a boon to firms, but choosing the right package is key. And with products like Raken, firms can be sure of a product that not only contains all of the “fun” of digital technology, but one that is both truly useful and ultimately profitable.

Real Time Visibility At Construction Projects

Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 1.43.12 PMA picture is worth a thousand words. That is especially true in the construction industry. Workers can write a book’s worth of reports (and by the end of a major project, they generally do) on everything from payroll, to subcontractors, to equipment, but no matter how well-written the narrative, written reports certainly can’t compare to the photo array of a construction protect coming to fruition, step by step. Or an actual look at the land that will become incorporated into a project, with all of its pros and cons. Or a “selfie” of the on-site “swamp” that workers fear will become a safety issue if allowed to remain.

And these “thousand word” pictures need not be static ones either. One no longer has to be a master camera man or have ultra-expensive equipment to reliably capture clear, real-time activities of work-in-progress, deliveries, and other active construction site footage. This is not to say that managers should chuck written reports in the trash and focus on just those photos, by any means. The best and most complete construction site reporting features both.

And it’s important that construction site managers select a construction software program that allows them to successfully merge text and imagery, like that offered by Raken. Raken’s software allows an app to be downloaded to mobile devices, that allows their users to:

– Take photographs that can be incorporated into documents
– Do “field captures” of various locations that can be added to smart document programs
– Users to view real time dashboards showing progress from multiple jobsites at once

The result of this construction photo management is information that is easy to interpret and pass on via the Internet to executives and shareholders. No more numbers on spread sheets to puzzle over with this construction photo app! Managers should be warned that while state and federal government rules allow workplace activity to be filmed and photographed, there are restrictions, such as no sound recording or photography in personal areas, like employee break rooms and restrooms. These restrictions can vary by state, as well. But for managers diligent about compliance, and willing to embrace software with visual capabilities, the results are a better informed, more proactive management team, better able to a keep a project on track because they can literally see what’s going on, no matter where they are.

Construction Daily Reports: From Paper To Mobile

Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 1Not everyone likes change, and indeed, there are not always benefits to be had from it. Change can result in increased efficiency, safety, productivity, and yes, profit. Consider the saga of the construction industry and its paperwork.

There’s been lots of paperwork involved with construction for probably the last couple of hundred years, and shockingly, change was very slow to come to it. Project foremen and superintendents took notes, even if it was in a informal and primitive way, of daily project events. These notes were then later transcribed into more formal reports, which could be viewed by company owners, clients, and shareholders. Sometimes, when things unfortunately didn’t go as planned, these reports could serve as important documents in a trial.

Of course, it was very possible that these field notes could be lost. Or that the formal report scribe was a different reporter from the original one and didn’t understand what was written originally. Or the formal daily report form was turned in so late that it missed deadlines. And couldn’t be submitted as a court document. Or was lost, damaged, or destroyed when filed and stored.

It’s time for the paper construction daily report to become history. Advances in digital technology and software over the last couple of decades haven’t just produced better cell phones and computer games. They have provided laypeople with the means to carry and easily operate small wireless computers wherever they go. These devices are no longer limited to games and conversations, but allow people the opportunity to work on the go, and to work collaboratively with others in real time.

Raken for daily construction reporting is part of this positive change. Its software allows an app to be installed on wireless devices powered by Android and iOS. This means that a site supervisor can complete and transmit a daily construction report from almost any location in an hour or less, on easily read, industry standard formats. This DCR can then quickly be transmitted to main offices or other staff for editing or verification without the need for physical travel. And Raken’s software and formats also make it appropriate for use as a general construction log. Additional files and even photographs can be added to Raken documents easily. And with Raken, a daily log doesn’t have to be tossed into a box or filing cabinet to face a uncertain filing future. These documents can be stored for up to ten years on Raken’s cloud platform, safe, secure, and easily accessed by keywords.

So while the construction agency has been slow to embrace change, technology like Raken’s daily reporting app shows that when it come to daily paperwork, change can be good, and managers interested in efficient, productive projects shouldn’t hesitate to embrace it.

#ConTechTrio Interview with Kyle Slager

Check out the #ConTechTrio interview Raken’s CEO Kyle Slager! @JBKnowledge https://www.spreaker.com/user/jbknowledge/contechtrio-podcast-episode-1-15-constru
Screen Shot 2016-05-06 at 1.45.54 PM

Importance Of Photo Documentation For Construction

photovisi-download (1)
“It’s the next best thing to being there”. Actually, photographic documentation of work or issues at a construction site is an excellent idea, even if workers, subcontractors, and superintendents are seeing it for themselves on a daily basis. It’s been well documented at this point that human beings both understand and remember static visual images better than what they’re told, or written text that they have read.

And photographs taken of work or problems in the field, if curated and presented properly, can enhance daily reports by:

  • showing clients and stakeholders project progress
  • serving as a graphic warning to site employees
  • serving as compelling litigation case evidence

But even more than that, a photographic record of construction site activity has been shown to increase site productivity, eliminating project site waste by thousands of dollars. How exactly does “say cheese” achieve this? While written documentation will always be an important part of daily reporting, a visual record of progress and issues affecting safety and quality control have been shown to cause improvement in all three areas. To paraphrase the movie Field Of Dreams, “If they can see a picture of it, things will go much more smoothly”. And by a lucky coincidence, many site superintendents and managers are carrying around in their pockets a mobile device that happens to double as a pretty decent camera. A camera that takes digital images that can quickly be shared among many mobile devices, meaning that images capturing progress and problems can be shared that much more quickly.

But in order to utilize these photographs in an effective way, you can’t go old school and pass around a handful of Polaroids, or staple photos to a paper report. Instead, you need construction software like Raken‘s for construction daily work reports to help you integrate captured images into daily reports, in addition to passing these images along for editing and additional commenting. Raken’s app allows users to store digital items in a central location with cloud technology. Photos then can be conveniently downloaded by appropriate clients, stakeholders, and employees with easy to use keyword access. These construction site photos can also be securely stored and accessed for up to ten years.

Raken’s software automatically time stamps all images, meaning that image content is not only easy to use and understand, but that such marking makes these images potentially important legal documents as well. So by using software like Raken’s to manage and integrate digital photography into daily reports, a picture is simply no longer just worth a thousand words. Now these images can make construction firms safer, faster, more effective, and more profitable as well.

The Case For Mobile Daily Reporting: A No Brainer

multidevices-600x542-noshadow Nobody likes paperwork. But it’s an essential part of doing business, nowhere more so than in the construction industry. But everyone likes mobile digital products, especially as they become both cheaper and easier to use with each new generation. So one didn’t exactly have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that: A. paperwork has largely migrated to computers, and B. people of all ages are now routinely carrying around tiny computers in their pockets, so C. why not develop these office software programs to be compatible with mobile devices?

There’s no denying that the development of office based computer software programs more than a decade ago was revolutionary. These programs saved transcription time, compelled users to use approved formats, and could be stored much more easily than paper files. But these programs had their drawbacks, especially in industries that often lacked conventional offices, as in construction. Then cell phones came along, which rapidly evolved from a novelty to an essential communication and entertainment system. With everyone spending so much time on them, is it any wonder that they’re being utilized as work tools? But the right software is essential. Take Raken for construction daily reporting, for example.

With an application powered by Android and iOS, Raken takes users to industry approved fields that allows them to complete daily reports in ninety minutes or less. In addition, Raken’s software allows users to protect firms in terms of litigation by easily recording and storing documentation. And not only does this software allow for the writing of standard reports, it allows users to chronicle safety and other issues in real time for other users to immediately see. In addition to emergency matters, Raken‘s app allows firm co-workers to “distance collaborate” and edit reports, even creating and sending PDF files, reducing the need for physical meetings and saving money. And while everyone from toddlers to grandparents are texting pros these days, Raken has a convenient alternate feature that allows speaking report and notice information into devices in addition to writing it.

In addition to allowing multiple employees to access reports at the same time in real time, Raken’s mobile apps for construction industry allows authorized clients and stakeholders to do so as well. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, this software allows for the addition of additional files, photos, and even videos to reports. Raken even has a feature that allows these photos to be curated. And in case anyone forgets to check, Raken issues automatic notices and reminders to all authorized users. And Raken doesn’t just provide access to current reports. An unlimited amount of files can be stored for up to ten years with cloud technology, and are easily accessed via keywords.

And because firms increasingly have both employees and clients that are foreign-born, the Raken app allows reports and comments to be recorded and commented on in a variety of languages. All of this, and Raken’s software still has room to support executive reports, weekly reports, monthly reports, and Excel programs for payroll purposes.

So your firm can continue to struggle with hard copy spread sheets, and be left behind in terms of projects and profit, or it can join the digital revolution, stock up on cell phones, and see how construction software like Raken can transform both their firm’s paperwork, and the firm itself by using a daily construction log.

Completing Daily Reports With Raken’s App

Winning Construction Litigation With Digital Daily Reports

documentsNo one ever wants to go to court. But the construction industry is one that experiences a disproportionate amount of litigation either as defendants (clients claimed contracted work wasn’t done, wasn’t done correctly, was done too slowly, etc.) or as plaintiffs (clients didn’t pay them, clients will only pay under new and onerous conditions, etc.) There was a time when courts often did not look favorably upon construction firms. That has changed in more recent years, but that doesn’t mean that firms should not take litigation seriously. To prevail in court, preparation is key, and a big part of this are project daily reports and construction logs.

This doesn’t mean that daily logs should be prepared with an eye to eventually ending up in court. On the contrary, firms may find themselves penalized by courts who have reason to think that daily logs have been crafted to be trial friendly. But construction logs should be kept in a format where data is easy to read, understand, and access. And digital daily reporting makes such a report easier to produce than ever before. In the past, when hand writing or “hunt and peck” typewriting produced reports, the inclination with daily reports was only to provide detailed accounts when a problem was encountered that day. As a result, daily reports usually only included fairly basic information, such as brief daily weather and temperature descriptions, the number of people working that day, and perhaps a general description of equipment used and general conditions. A major reason that this type of reporting was discouraged was because of the amount of time needed to compose such reports, challenging under field conditions. Another was the physical size of these report files. As impressive as it looks on fictional courtroom dramas when attorneys slam boxes of files to the floor, how do you store and access such files in real life?

But digital daily reports created by software like Raken can create complete, accurate files with compelling information to help firms prevail in court. These digital files are easily shared among the many parties often involved in litigation cases, and specific information within these files can easily be accessed via key pad. No more rooting around through filing cabinets or those cardboard boxes only to discover that the information is not there. And Raken’s files can be stored online for up to ten years, safely and securely to help risk management in construction.  So, while the prospect of litigation will never be pleasant, digital technology like our Raken construction business software provides firms with a professional, accurate document that helps to increase the odds of winning their day in court.

How To Create A Construction Daily Report

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 1.14.47 PMSuperintendents and project managers usually have to include daily reports among their usual tasks. While reports aren’t much fun to write, they’re important documents, and increasingly, not an option. In addition to the Federal government, many states now require construction firms to submit various reports on a daily basis.

Beyond being a requirement for many public clients, daily reports can help superintendents, project managers, and firm CEOs monitor a project over time, get guidance for future projects, and protect themselves in litigation actions. And today’s construction software, like Raken‘s for daily reporting, results in consistent, accurate reports, that allow for the inclusion of photographs and real time editing and collaboration to enhance and update them. But although technological tools like Raken make it easier and quicker to do reports than ever before, given the importance of these documents, there are certain ways in which these reports should be presented, regardless of what format is used to create them.

What A Daily Report for Construction Sites Should Be:
A correctly done report is an accurate, factual document reflecting work at a site on a day by day basis. It should be able to be read and understood by parties from various backgrounds. It should be written in a neutral, just the facts style. Photographs may be included, provided that they pertain directly to the report. Weather, traffic, etc. reports can be included with the main report provided that they had direct bearing on the events of that day. Typical construction daily reports include:

– Project information
– Weather information
– Log of daily manpower
– Subcontractor hours worked by each crew
– Employee hours
– Site safety observations
– Quality control observations
– Progress photos

How Digital Technology Can Help Create The Right Report Format
Raken‘s reporting software allows for real time, properly formatted reports that easily can be edited and accessed from Android and iOS powered devices. Project managers and superintendents can create multiple report files within Raken for various projects, and access them with a tab format. Once within these individual reports, files can be broken down into manpower, survey, tasks, etc. categories, and these can further be customized with appropriate graphics and photographs. These documents can then be stored for up to ten years with cloud technology, and can easily be accessed from storage.

So while report writing will never be “fun”, Raken’s construction daily log software provides firms with more accurate, professional documents, that can be produced quickly and shared easily, allowing more time to devote to the more enjoyable aspects of construction work.

How To Start A Project On Raken

Are Daily Reports The Most Important Document In Construction?

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 12.01.09 PM If you were to poll construction industry workers as to what the most glamorous and exciting job on a construction site was, the keeping of daily logs probably wouldn’t be mentioned. In fact, most workers tasked with the writing and filing of daily reports would tell you that it’s a fairly thankless task. And truly, do the fruits of all of that hard labor even get looked at? It seems that a lot of that data goes from spread sheets to filing cabinets, never to be seen again, with the exception of a stakeholders’ report, or a court case.

But as unglamorous as those reports may seem, they are vital to the successful completion of construction projects. Reports and daily logs chronicle the life of a construction project, from the weather of the day, to the number of people working, to the progress made on the project, and more. For people who will never or seldom set foot on a project site, such as stakeholders, daily reports in construction provide a view of the project that they’re investing their money in.

And stakeholders are not the only reading audience of these reports. In the unfortunate occurrence of litigation, daily reports can form the backbone of a successful defense for contractors. They can also help contractors prevail as plaintiffs, too, by showing courts a project’s history, ranging from actual work progress to delivery delays. And daily reporting provides an archive for employees to refer to when having to revisit past projects or produce something similar.

So, these reports are important. But still tedious to do. And often inconvenient, as formal report forms can’t often be completed in the field, leading to losing time traveling between offices to do so. All this repeated filing of the same report also increases that chance that some of this information will be lost, or at least lead to a filing delay. And when that report is finally filed, it’s often awkwardly stored, making specific reports hard to find and access.

Fortunately, with the advent of the digital revolution, these documents are now much easier to complete, file, access, and store. Raken‘s construction reporting software allows superintendents and foremen to file reports with mobile devices in the field, cutting down on travel time and expense. Raken reports used real time and industry approved fields, meaning that they’re timely, correct, and easy to read. And with Raken’s cloud technology, reports can be stored online for up to ten years, and are easily accessed. So while report writing may never be glamorous, with Raken, writers have the satisfaction of knowing that they’re providing a document that saves time and money, and contributes to the running of an efficient and profitable site. Sign up to try a free trial of Raken today.

From Papyrus To Digital: History Of Construction Reports

Old daily report There’s nothing new under the sun, and that includes the construction industry. Pretty much as soon as our ancestors gave up those cave dwelling, hunter-gatherer ways and put down roots, they were looking for contractors. And ancient contractors were remarkably like their contemporary counterparts. No ancient building project was complete without a foreman, a project manager, and a superintendent. And of course, lots of project-related paperwork, even before the invention of paper.

Those earliest methods of chronicling events surrounding construction projects were done on clay tablets, which were heavy to lug around and fragile if dropped. As a result, large and important government construction projects were the ones that got much written attention, such as the Ziggurat (temple) of Ur, and the Ishtar Gate, both located in ancient Mesopotamia (today’s Iraq). By the time ancient Egyptians began to construct the first pyramids in 2700 B.C., easier to use papyrus had arrived, but ancient contractors weren’t yet as careful about their daily reporting and record keeping as they should have been. As a result, there will always be lost or conflicting information concerning the construction details of some of these iconic monuments.

The Middle Ages in Europe produced many stunning churches and palaces, built by paid workers, both skilled and unskilled. These projects were overseen by the ancestors of unions, known as guilds. While a written account of a project in the time of England’s King Edward II shows that supplier and subcontractor issues are nothing new, parchment was expensive. As a result of this, not to mention plenty of trade secrets and guild rivalries, few written records survive of either architectural renderings or project work.

As history and construction marched on, technological advances made it easier to keep various parties abreast of construction problems and progress. The telegraph, developed in the 1830s and 1840s, can be looked on as a primitive form of construction software. And it came in handy beginning in 1869, as one of America’s greatest construction projects, the Pacific Railroad, got underway. Telegraph operators issued frequent construction reports to journalists and stakeholders alike.

Today’s construction document software has progressed beyond clay tablets. It’s no longer necessary to erect poles or string wire to send daily reports, either. And thanks to today’s digital technology, a manager or superintendent is no longer confined to an office to issue construction reports. Products like Raken allow daily construction reporting to be filed in real time using a variety of mobile devices, and with report fields that meet industry standards. Raken can also issue real time warnings and notifications, helping to protect projects and keep them on schedule. Using construction software like Raken saves time and money, and the security of its cloud storage for reports guarantees that all of that hard work won’t become history.

How To Customize Your Daily Report

Managing Litigation Risks Through Compliance and Visibility

ACF5F0 In science fiction thrillers, our heroes manipulate thoughts, images, and history to (usually) save the day. Something similar is being achieved in the real world by businesses embracing the latest technologies to create permanent records of transactions both in text and with images. There are many reasons to create digital “paper trails” in business. High among them are:

  • more accurate records of transactions
  • easier editing and updating of reports
  • easier to track employee work for efficacy purposes
  • easier to collect, document, and store information relating to litigation

Those who work in this industry know that it is no stranger to litigation. When a construction firm is on the defendant’s side of the table, charges levied against it often include delays in project completion and subpar work done by employees. The plaintiffs may not be mistaken. It can be difficult for superintendents and project managers at a busy firm with multiple active sites to monitor work, compile reports, and keep track of suppliers, deliveries, and subcontractors on a daily basis. But these harried supervisor may be overlooking an effective tool for monitoring employees and subcontractors alike, issuing and updating warnings, and keeping shareholders in the loop. Its name: digital construction reports.

When filed properly, today’s digital daily logs and daily reports can not only create a record that can prevail in court. It can avoid litigation altogether by allowing superintendents and project managers to oversee work remotely, and stakeholders to understand what’s happening in the field without having to visit it at all. One of the problems of construction reports in the past was the difficulty of keeping daily logs updated in the field. Deadlines were often missed, and documents were lost and damaged. But with Raken software for daily reports, compliance for these documents is easy to achieve. Easily completed from most mobile devices, Raken features industry-standard documents, meaning that these reports aren’t only completed quickly, they’re completed correctly. Raken clients report documents so easy to complete that they have almost 100% report completion compliance.  But in addition to creating a paper trail that will hold up in court, Raken produces reports that allow supervisors to track site activity on a daily basis and help. Overall, helping the risk management in construction projects.

And with Raken software, supervisors, stakeholders, and clients can do more than read about site activity, they can view it. Raken’s online dashboard, plus weekly, monthly, and executive summary report features allow viewers to access streaming video of work at and deliveries to construction sites. Not only can this provide a visual narrative in case of litigation, it allows multiple parties to visit sites without actually visiting them, answering their questions and improving site safety. For supervisors, this Raken tool saves on time and travel expenses, alerts them in real time to site problems, and increases worker productivity.

No one likes to spend time in court, and many cases can in fact be avoided with better understanding and increased transparency.  And not only can users achieve this with Raken’s software for a construction company, the end result are safer and more productive sites as well.

How To Create Weekly & Monthly Reports On Raken

Why Automating Field Reports Is Key To Construction

Fully_customize_reports_to_showcase_chosen_findingsAs the construction industry scrambles to catch up and climb aboard the technology bandwagon, some firms are spending and wasting a fair amount of money on new technologies. But the technologies themselves are not at fault. Rather, they are being used inappropriately.

And that’s unfortunate, because the right application of the latest digital tools can help a firm operate more efficiently, be able to take on more projects, and more often avoid litigation. Construction reports are a good example. Daily construction reports have existed since the time of the pyramids. And while foremen and superintendents no longer record them on clay tablets or papyrus, until recently daily reporting in the field was fairly primitive. Reports were hand scribbled into notebooks. Later, the same reporter or another employee had to decipher these field notes, which had to be transcribed onto yet another form. These reports then often had to be transported to other offices and awkwardly stored, running the risk of report loss and damage.

But by using software like Raken for daily reporting, firms are assured of construction reports that are:

1. Entered on forms that are industry compliant
2. Filed in real time and can instantly be seen by both staff and stakeholders
3. Safely stored digitally for up to ten years, and are easily accessible

In addition to daily reports, Raken’s software has format fields for weekly reports, monthly reports, and company executive summary reports. These reports are easily edited, and allow for the inclusion of photos, graphics, and additional reports.

And Raken’s construction reporting software allows an application to be downloaded and used by foremen and superintendents on mobile devices, which most individuals now carry as part of daily living. This means that reports can easily be completed and transmitted directly from the field without having to lose time and possibly data itself in the process of re-transcribing these reports. And to make sure that no report is overlooked, Raken issues automatic reminders and warnings directly to devices. Raken even e-mails company branded PDFs directly to firm stakeholders to keep all parties up to date.

So while there’s nothing wrong with getting nostalgic for the green field notebooks of yore, automating field reports with software like Raken help to keep firms on schedule, compliant, and profitable.

Introducing Week & Month Reports

Tired of going through your dailies to create a week/month summary?

We got you covered! Introducing:

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Impress the owner or your boss by providing a quick snapshot of your project’s progress. Reports will summarize hours worked, daily weather, delays, accidents and missed reports.

Reporting on multiple projects? Don’t worry! The Project Summary will include multiple projects in one report. Learn More

Reasons A Construction Superintendent Is The Jobsite Hero

Screen Shot 2016-03-25 at 2.06.20 PM They might not wear a mask, tights, or cape to work. Or have a secret identity. Or get around town in an exotic, high-tech vehicle. And you’ve never seen them weld a girder by shooting laser bolts out of their eyes, or picking up that excavator one handed. But despite all of those deficits, a good construction site superintendent is worth his/her weight in men of steel. Why?

A Construction Site Superintendent Can’t Leap Over A Tall Building In A Single Bound, But……..
He or she is quite capable of handling anything else involving a building project. A construction superintendent’s responsibilities encompass almost every aspect of a project, from pre-project legwork, to early days groundbreaking, to public relations and informational meetings, to researching and obtaining any necessary permits. A construction site superintendent is often the only “front office” supervisor that site workers and subcontractors will see on a daily basis, as well. This means that the supervisor also does a great deal of report writing and filing.

A Superintendent Can’t Shrink Down To Fit Into Tiny Spaces, But…..
Actually, to a degree, he/she can do this. Because of their daily presence on sites, superintendents often have no office at all or a very scaled down one, such as a trailer. Fortunately, our increasingly digital dominant society makes roughing it a little easier, as with software products like Raken which allows daily reports to be written and filed using mobile devices.

A Superintendent Can’t Make Himself/Herself Invisible, But……
Given how many people that a superintendent must see over the course of a day, that’s not a bad thing. In addition to serving as the site’s personnel manager, the superintendent often meets with the project manager, stakeholders, suppliers, and subcontractors. The site superintendent is also often the project employee who conducts site tours, acts as media representative, and works with regulatory offices to obtain any needed permits or exemptions.

A Superintendent Doesn’t Have A Justice League, But…….
It’s certainly important that a site superintendent has a qualified staff working under him/her, ranging from foremen to roofers, so site supervisors are generally very involved in the interviewing, hiring, and duty assignments of site personnel.

A Superintendent Isn’t Faster Than A Speeding Bullet, But……
That superintendent still has to be plenty speedy, not to mention adaptable, to make sure that the whole project stays on track, and comes in on schedule. In addition to this, the construction project superintendent’s duties include making sure that the project remains within budget.

A Supervisor Isn’t Recruited From The Fortress Of Solitude, But…..
Site supervisors traditionally were experienced construction workers who were recruited internally after doing their time in the trenches. Now, however, with the retiring and loss of these veteran workers, it’s time for firms to invest more resources and money in internships and college programs to train future superintendents to make sure that future sites aren’t without their heroes.

Construction Project Documentation Checklist

raken_web imageAs any construction superintendent knows, paperwork is an enormous part of any construction project. In addition to bid proposals, and the all-important contracts, there are reams of daily reports, covering everything from safety meetings, to inventory, to subcontractor hours worked, to suppliers, and beyond. As tedious as all of this daily reporting and construction project documentation can be, all of this paperwork is very important. It helps to keep projects on schedule, insures uninterrupted supply and labor streams, and can act as important legal documents in case of disputes.

And while legal disputes are not as common as paperwork in the construction industry, unfortunately, litigation is all too common a part of it. Construction lawsuits often cast contractors in the role of both plaintiff and defendant. In both cases, the best way to prevail or defend a firm in court cases is to have an over-abundance of documentation. But while it’s better to be safe rather than sorry in acquiring project-related paperwork, there is some documentation that is absolutely vital to take to court.

Construction Project Documentation Must-Haves

Bid Proposals And Related Documents

While not binding as in the sense of a contract, bid documents are an important indicator of party intentions and expectations. Bid proposals submitted by contractors should be very complete, and include guidance as to how everything from weather to subcontractors can potentially impact on a project and a bid submittal.

Contracts

Probably the single most important document in construction litigation, especially when the contractor is the plaintiff. As a result, contractors should sign no contracts until they have been thoroughly read and understood, with contractor-friendly provisions in place for weather, suppliers, etc.

Daily Reports

Whether they’re called reports, or logs, or notes, there’s no dismissing the importance of daily reporting, as this report information is a daily chronicle of work at a construction site. Because of all of the important information that these reports contain, it’s essential that these reports:

  • be submitted in a timely fashion, meeting all deadlines
  • be legibly documented, and documented on approved industry forms
  • are retained from the beginning of the project to at least 3-5 years following its completion

A Solution to your Construction Project Documentation Needs

Until fairly recently, all of this report documentation meant transcribing handwritten notes into a typewritten form, and transporting and storing these reports between offices. This often resulted in lost and damaged paperwork. Fortunately, with software like Raken for daily reporting, report filers can submit reports in real time directly to industry-standard fields, using mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Raken’s fields also allow for editing, collaborative additions to the report, and the insertion of any relevant photographs or graphics. Raken’s cloud technology also allows for the safe and secure storing of these daily reports for up to ten years.

Whether as a plaintiff or as a defendant, a contractor’s best ally in court is carefully documented and curated paperwork, especially reports. With the assistance of tools like Raken’s construction document management software, construction firms can increase the odds of being winners regardless of the litigation case.

Try Raken for free today to solve your construction checklist documentation needs.

Construction Employment Rises In 44 States Over Last 12 Months

Jobsite1While the construction industry has rebounded in a huge way from the good old days of the Great Recession, it continues to have its ups and downs. National statistics show the biggest industry employment gains in a decade. However, there have been setbacks in some parts of the country due to labor shortages, severe weather, and the uncertain fortunes of the natural gas industry.

However, 2015 was a great year to be working in the construction industry, according to information released by the Department of Labor. According to their data, 44 states and the District of Columbia began new construction projects within the January 2015-January 2016 period. And 30 new construction projects were added nationally in December of 2015 and January of 2016. This makes the construction industry as a whole one of the nation’s biggest employment success stories of the last year. But not all regions got to share in this building bonanza. Because of the continuing natural gas controversy, and ultra-cheap foreign oil, construction work was noticeably down in states where drilling and fracking occur. The slow death of the coal industry has not helped, either. The victims here included North Dakota with a loss of over 5,000 construction jobs, Alaska, which lost a little over 1,500 jobs, West Virginia, which lost about 2,500 jobs, Wyoming, which lost a little over 1,0000 jobs, Kansas, which lost a similar number of jobs, and Pennsylvania, the second place “winner”, with a loss of 3,600 jobs.

Happier news for employment in the construction industry came from states like California, Florida, Texas, Massachusetts, Maine, and Rhode Island. While the first two states have been consistently busy with construction projects in the last few years, construction has struggled in New England as a whole, so it is encouraging to see these latter three states back in the “win column”. Other state winners included Nevada and New York, where Manhattan continues to enjoy a project boom. The biggest surprise here may be Hawaii, whose construction project rate climbed by 15%, making it the state with the overall biggest jump in construction projects.

The lack of winter in some parts of the country thanks to weather pattern El Niño, may have played a part in this upswing. Also credited are some state partnerships that gave many stalled infrastructure projects a jump start. And while some analysts say that the “invasion of the big box stores” may finally be behind us, different kinds of commercial building continue to be robust, as does residential construction. But while industry watchers are pleased, construction’s labor shortages worry them. They warn that in order to keep the industry on an upwards track, and continue a rise in employment, construction’s next big boom needs to be in training and recruiting workers.

How To Improve Employee Productivity

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“There’s always room for improvement”. This doesn’t necessarily mean that as a manager or superintendent that you’re not running an effective, productive worksite. But it also means that you shouldn’t be unwilling to take a good, long, hard look at how everything is going at the job site, including employee morale. A recent national Gallup poll revealed that a staggering 70% of Americans working in business and industry were “disengaged” while at work, resulting in an economic loss of $550,000,000,000 annually. And that’s a shame, as study after study has shown that happy, involved workers are more productive and safer ones, as well. So what’s the secret to changing employee workplace attitudes from “Eh.” to “Yeah!”? It turns out that there are several ways to improve productivity in construction.

Empower Employees
Letting site workers take turns running the company isn’t a good idea for various reasons. But there are other ways in which they can help to contribute to the effectiveness of a site, including an employee suggestion program. As your project’s eyes and ears, workers on a site daily are the best ones to observe safety issues and supply and subcontractor problems. Because of their experience with working on site, their suggestions may be the best way to resolve these issues. If some job positions can be enhanced with the proper training and/or education, make sure that employees are aware of this, and are given opportunities to pursue it, as well.

Have Meetings
Everyone likes to know what’s going on, and meetings are a great way to get staff together. But make sure that those meetings have real information to convey or problems to address. Otherwise, they’re just a waste of everyone’s time.

Transparency
You’ve decided lower level workers don’t need to know about potential downsizing and cutbacks? That’s okay, they’ll get the old rumor mill going on their own. And the result may be angry, disenfranchised employees who feel that they owe you minimal work in the face of all of that uncertainty. While you may not be able to involve workers in every level of firm decision making for various reasons, don’t keep them in the dark about decisions that affect work and employment either.

Use Technologies Everyone Can Use
It had a cool video and a good price, but are all of your employees comfortable with that construction software package you purchased? Is it inconvenient for them to use from various locations? Have you taken the time to make sure all affected employees have been trained to use it? And given how digital so many traditional industry tasks are becoming, managers need to make sure that they have software that not only works in a traditional office, but that is mobile as well.

Five Tool Box Talk Tips You Should Remember Every Day

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.20.51 PMThere’s no one in the construction industry who will deny the importance of safety at a work site. Safe work sites are not only well, safer, but more profitable, due to increased effectiveness and lack of fines. But there’s no denying that the topic of workplace safety isn’t exactly sexy. Or particularly interesting, either. And it’s not just an American problem. In Ontario, Canada, University of Algoma professor Cathy Dénommé conducted a study in which subjects attended safety training for various jobs. This training used a number of methods, ranging from computer Power Point style presentations to lectures with a live speaker. And the results? Workers dutifully attended these meetings and training sessions. And not only did they retain very little of what they were taught, the topics covered did not improve safety in any measurable way in work environments. Why? Dénommé and other specialists feel that a large part of the problem is that construction safety talks and safety training is offered in a generic and impersonal way. Feeling talked at, “students” disengage without even being aware of it.

Safety conversations aren’t ones we can’t afford to stop having in this industry. Daily safety tool box meetings aren’t just a good idea, they’re required for some contractual construction work, such as with the federal government. So what tips and safety toolbox talk topics do Dénommé and others offer to ensure that safety audiences are actively involved instead of just bored?

5. Safety Training Should Involve Real Life Work Experiences
Why are your roofers watching a video featuring actors pretending to jam their fingers in a filing cabinet when they could be viewing the true account of the roofer who neglected to use proper fall protection?

4. Involve Employees In Safety Training
Dénommé said that the most effective safety training allows workers to be directly involved with it, as in forming safety committees and helping to set agenda, and allowing for time after meetings for feedback and questions.

3. Make Employees “Safety Spies”
Don’t wait for meetings to report safety issues or bring up concerns. Encourage employees to both keep an eye out for potential or active safety concerns, then post them where they’ll be checked frequently. Management shouldn’t ignore these posts either, but respond to them quickly and prominently.

2. Incorporate Differences
Construction sites are no longer the domain of white male workers. Be aware of potential ethnic and cultural differences that could affect perception of safety issues. Bilingual safety signage and warnings are a must for sites with non-native workers and visitors. And while the days of “shrinking violet” female workers are long gone, certain circumstances may create unique health or safety issues for these employees. Be aware of them and make accommodations accordingly.

1. Make Safety Part Of The Culture
Work sites should never have a “double safety standard”. All firm employees should be held to the same safety protocols on a site, with the same rewards and consequences for doing or not doing so.

Don’t let employees think that there is a “good enough” level where site safety is concerned, either. While it’s impossible to avoid all accidents, all site employee should never stop trying to create a work environment that’s as safe as possible.

Managing A Construction Site Remotely

Screen Shot 2015-05-29 at 4.02.52 PMWhile the construction industry has admittedly been slow to embrace the range of options technology has been providing over the last decade or so, it’s coming around, especially in the utilization of construction software. Forget those painful spreadsheets, today’s industry software is being used for everything from virtual blueprints to timesheet upgrades. Increasingly, this newer software is being used by managers to manage project sites remotely.

Wait a minute! What does this term mean? That a project manager will now never actually visit an active project site? Not at all. But much of a busy manager’s time is taken up by various forms of paperwork, much of which is not especially practical to do on a busy site for many reasons. In the past, three of the top ones were lack of office space, bulky equipment, and the lack of appropriate connectivity (i.e., you can’t get to the Internet from here).

But almost twenty years into the twenty first century, the room sized computer has shrunk into a versatile, often pocket sized personal device that you can even make phone calls with. As the technology grid expands into remoter areas, operators can use these wireless devices with far fewer worries about losing connectivity or data. This means that managers now have to make far fewer trips from sites to other offices, saving time and money. And it also means that the manager has to make fewer trips from the office to distant sites to collect data, because that data is coming to him or her. How is this possible?

With online construction management software like Raken’s daily reporting app for example, foremen and other employees can use smartphones and tablets to collect data on site, log it into devices, and file it. The project manager can then immediately access this information, and not only review it, but make corrections or additions and retransmit the data, or send it along to other parties. The result of this virtual office work and collaboration? More accurate and timely filing as it’s being done in real time, and less waste in terms of travel, scheduling meetings, and potentially lost paperwork as it travels between physical offices. Raken’s construction project app also accommodates graphics, photographs, and other report attachments. This means that information from different sources can seamlessly be incorporated into a single digital document, saving much effort and unnecessary traveling.

Raken’s data can also be stored through cloud technology, meaning that “timelines” can be created from data to show stakeholders and other partners everything from project progress to cost savings, again without frequent visits to a site. As a result, online construction software like Raken means more accurate reporting and better project communicating. Going forward, this type of reporting will become the industry norm, as it allows more chances for a manager to get to spend more time on other important tasks when he or she does visit a site.

How Virtual Reality Will Change Construction

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 2.27.47 PMWill virtual reality ever really come to have a significant impact on real life? And aside from daily living applications, are there ways in which VR can be utilized for business? Could a construction manager or superintendent one day be checking up on site work by stepping onto the old holodeck?

While a construction project manager might not have adventures in VR that are as dramatic as a Star Trek episode, the reality is that virtual reality as a construction technology tool is not a new concept. Ideas for the technology now known as Building Information Modeling (BIM) were being discussed as early as the 1970s, and the first BIM software debuted in 1987, in the form of a program called ArchiCAD. The advantages of BIM in construction over traditional 2-D blueprints or even 3-D structural models quickly became apparent. By “building” a 3-D structure on screen, architects, construction managers, and even clients could move through its rooms. This not only allowed various parties to envision the shape of a evolving project, but easily make additions or eliminations to it. Previously, such alterations would entail completely new renderings of plans, which was not only costly, but time consuming.

But while it sounds as though as a construction technology tool BIM couldn’t possibly have a down side, the construction industry has been slow to embrace it. Because of the technical know-how required to create and set up BIM programs, for a number of years the only construction manager or superintendent that could utilize it was one working at a firm with a robust IT department. But that has changed over the last decade. More and more digital technology leaders such as Microsoft and Daqri, are working on developing both VR software packages and accompanying accessories that are both affordable and easily adaptable for BIM purposes.

And this emerging VR “democratization” doesn’t just mean easier structure layout planning in 3-D. Today’s BIM software allows users to work with digital models in both 4-D and 5-D as well. 4-D use with a BIM model means that a project manager can program the project work schedule directly into it, while 5-D allows project costs to be directly added as well. The result is a digital total package that saves both time and money by allowing for inclusion of and quick changes to project components.

Larger construction firms such as McCarthy Building Companies in Arizona are already using current BIM virtual reality in construction extensively. While some firms are wary about using a technology that was developed for the computer gaming industry, given all of the time, money, and potential conflict that VR can save, this may be a game that they can’t afford not to play.

New Raken Feature: Photo Management

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You Asked, We Listened!

Access, manage and download all of your photos from one central location!

All photos taken on Raken are uploaded and displayed chronologically giving you even further visibility into your projects. Simply log in to Raken on the web, select a time frame and we’ll send you an email with your photos.

PS: We’ve got video files covered too! Stay tuned for more updates to come! Learn More

 

Construction Management And Mobile Solutions

Screen Shot 2015-06-12 at 4.43.16 PMA few years ago, only science fiction characters carried and used them. Today, you see them everywhere in real life, and even infants and toddlers use them with surprising ease. “Them” of course, would be mobile devices, such as smartphones, tablets, and their yet-to-catch-on lovechild, the “phablet”. And while it’s getting harder and harder to imagine a time when we didn’t use them to make telephone calls, watch television, or listen to music, these devices are still underutilized in terms of their business potential. Especially in the construction industry. While many firms have graduated from green books and typewritten forms in terms of daily reporting for example, they continue to use “legacy” software.

“Legacy” first appeared in computer lingo as early as the 1970s to describe a system that was out of date. The term is used today in IT circles to refer to older software programs. While “legacy software” programs are often not obsolete, they tend to be difficult to install, can’t accept upgrades easily, often affect office-wide computer use while upgrades are being downloaded, and can only be used on limited machines under certain circumstances.  If this sounds like the construction project management software that your firm is using, it might well be worth moving to software that features apps that can be downloaded to mobile devices, like Raken for daily reporting. Working on devices powered by Android and iOS, Raken allows for between 60-90 minutes per day to be saved on report writing and filing. Raken report fields meet industry standards, assuring that these reports can become legal documents, if necessary. And Raken allows for real time editing and viewing, meaning that the “meeting about the report data” can be held anywhere, even when all meeting participants aren’t necessarily physically in the same place, saving travel time and money. And Raken is not a construction manager’s only “mobile solution” for a more effective construction site. There are a number of other products out there using technology that most site employees are already carrying in a pocket or briefcase. Other possibilities include a mobile app called JobCost that allows employees to update their timecards with their devices and managers to track work, JobWavz, mobile apps for construction that allow residential projects to be scheduled, and managers to receive job bid notifications via devices, and various tagging products that allow managers to conduct inventory updates with yes, a few swipes of a phone or tablet.

While it sounds like construction managers should hop right onto that app bandwagon, they are warned that not all construction software packages are appropriate for all projects, and due diligence should be done before making purchases. But for managers willing to do the homework, the many construction mobile solutions now out there not only save firms time and money, but will keep them competitive traveling down that digital highway.

Importance Of The Cloud In Construction Management

Cloud-computing-1Weather has quite an impact on construction projects. But when people are talking about “the cloud” and construction management these days, that’s probably not what they’re referring to. They’re most likely referring to cloud computing, which involves a network of remote servers storing, processing, and moving data across the Internet, something that “local” servers and personal computers used to exclusively do. This new technology affords users a great deal of more freedom and flexibility, as it allows them to work and access information from many locations, using an increasing number of devices with digital capability.

So how exactly does all of this affect the construction industry? It’s not as though bulldozers need to surf the Web. But traditional equipment is becoming increasingly automated and self-aware. Prototypes of such equipment exist now that use online searches to help carry out tasks. In the meantime, construction management is becoming increasingly reliant on various types of construction software to carry out administrative tasks, like completing daily reports. Older construction products that could be used on computers were certainly faster and more efficient than typewriters and carbon paper. But these software programs were limited, as well. These programs were often difficult to install, and updates often notoriously tied up every machine in a office. Formats for daily reports were often limited to infamous bulky spreadsheets, and add-ons such as photographs and additional reports had to be manually and awkwardly inserted.

But a software program like Raken for daily reporting utilizes cloud computing technology to allow devices like smartphones and tablets to serve as roving offices. With Raken’s cloud computing in construction users can add to and complete reports, and share this information in real time with other users. They can also issue notifications, and add both photos and videos to these documents. And because such reports can be created from cars, meeting rooms, etc., using cloud construction software like Raken means staff doesn’t have to waste time returning to site trailers or firm offices to complete reports. Because data can be viewed over multiple screens, it reduces the need for physical meetings as well. And Raken allows reports to be stored for up to ten years on the cloud, reducing the need for physical storage space and potential damage to stored physical documents.

Cloud-based software providers can also easily update and customize product, and also serve as the product’s IT specialists, reducing the need for firms to devise their own IT solutions. Managers shouldn’t assume that they’re completely done with construction software programs that arrive in a box. If they have found such a program that works effectively for them, they shouldn’t hurry to throw the baby out with the bathwater. But given cloud computing’s explosive growth and many applications, including within the construction industry, now is the time for managers to be considering their options, and how their firms can best utilize them.

New Features Are Live!

We’re happy to announce our newest features, thanks for your feedback in getting these built out!
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Export Manpower Data To Excel
Download manpower data into excel based on a time frame that you choose for each project. Learn more

Automatic Daily Report Email
Ability to automatically email daily reports once they are signed along with the option to set a certain time of the day for reports to be sent. Learn more

Improved Weather Capture
Improved automatic weather capture to include temperature, weather conditions, wind, precipitation and humidity. All of which are done automatically on your daily report. Learn more

Locate Completed And Missed Reports
Easily locate reports that were completed or missed.
This makes it easy to print and/or email completed reports as well as fill out missed reports. Learn more

Project Documentation Tips You Should Know

paperwork-315083_640In 62 BC in Rome, the great Julius Caesar divorced his second wife, whose name came up in a courtroom trial involving trespassing. Had she done anything wrong? Didn’t matter, said Caesar. “My wife ought not even to be under suspicion”. Thousands of years later, it’s hard to know if the former Mrs. Julius could have saved her good name and marriage with documentation. But modern day contractors can certainly protect themselves with it. While no one wants to start a work assignment assuming that all parties will face off in court, there’s no denying that we live in a litigious society. And the construction industry is especially prone to lawsuits, ranging from claims of defective work to displeasure over finished products.

How can contractors protect themselves from these suits? How can they make sure that clients, partners, suppliers, and others in turn honor their obligations and agreements? By documenting all steps of a project in writing, even before a project starts. All parties involved in a project should fully understand, before signing and committing to anything:

  • the financial obligations of all parties
  • any or all provisions that parties must make
  • the potential for work stoppage or delays during the course of a project, and actions to be taken if such events occur

But even these safeguards can’t entirely protect firms from suits. This is why it is important that thorough construction documentation of project events occur during project work, too. That daily report that no one enjoys doing can be a great help in this regard. Thorough record keeping here both creates a valuable court document, and can act as a deterrent to suit filing as well. And construction software on the market today like Raken can be very helpful in creating a daily report that provides the documentation that can prevail in court. Such daily reports should include:

Photographs
The human brain remembers visual images better than text, so record everything with photography on a worksite, including actual work, storage of supplies and vehicles, signage, and any safety issues and concerns. Changes to any of this should be re-photographed to appear in that day’s report.

Record All Work
This includes not only tasks performed by contracting employees, sub-contractors, suppliers, inspectors, etc. Records should include both the type of tasks performed, and the amount of time spent doing them. “Events” (visitors, press conferences, etc.) that affect daily work should be recorded as well.

Safety Concerns And General Issues
Actual or potential safety problems should be documented with both photographs and writing. This should include all actions taken and notifications issued. Observations on site weather and official weather reports and statements should be included here. More general issues to include here are steps taken to insure quality control, any training undertaken during the project, and documentation of all meetings held and who was in attendance.

While such record keeping sounds excessive, for legal purposes, it’s not possible to be “over-documented”. And project management software for construction like Raken not only makes it much easier to collect and store (for as long as ten years online) such data, it’s easy to use. The Raken app can be used on any mobile device using Android and iOS. This means managers can quickly create a full legal document that can also serve as a general update for stakeholders and partners as well. After all, as Caesar’s wife could tell you, it’s not much fun to spend time in court. Proper documentation can help contractors avoid or improve the outcome of such visits.

Top Five Recommended Construction Industry Blogs And News Websites In 2016

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 3.19.42 PMOriginally known as “web logs” (weblogs, get it?) these “diaries” soon took on a life of their own. Transitioning from personal musings for a private audience to a way to pass along quickly updated news within a web site, various organizations and finally businesses adopted this format to pass along information within their own sites. The construction industry was no exception.  Today, if a firm has a web site, odds are good that a construction blog is part of it. But are these blogs and similar “breaking news” sections good reading? Below are five construction oriented blogs that are worth following.

1. Contracting Coach
This site recognizes that part of being a good construction manager is keeping both clients and workers happy. This construction blog not only offers tips on how to be both a good employer and employee, but provides information on changing trends within the industry that can affect work, plus training in the form of downloadable podcasts on topics like effective meetings, firm marketing, and more.

2. Blue Collar Labs
This construction industry database provides not only “breaking” latest construction news, but compiles and archives technical information for use as well. In addition to accessing online information, a newsletter is available for site members as well.

3. Con App Guru
Rob McKinney is a construction industry technology consultant and blogger who is becoming an increasingly well-known speaker at industry events. As the name of this site indicates, it focuses on applications that can be used within the construction industry. Blog content here includes reviews of products, podcasts, and a database of apps that the “App Guru” has tried out and found useful.

4. Construction Leading Edge
Site owner and host Todd Dewalt offers a podcast series here that features interviews with leading firm owners and entrepreneurs within the construction industry. This site also offers information on industry training opportunities and a reading list.

5. Raken
The software company for daily reporting features a construction blog that offers lively and timely information on breaking news, training resources, trends within the construction industry, and more. The Raken site also offers demonstration videos, training webinars, and technical information.

Best Practices When Creating Daily Reports

Construction Daily Progress ReportWhen individuals decide to embark on a career in the construction agency, it’s highly unlikely that they’re doing so that they can write daily reports. Like routine paperwork of any kind, these reports can be tedious and time-consuming. But there’s no denying the importance of them, either. These daily progress reports for construction companies provide information that can save firms and their investors time and money, potentially protect workers from injury, and help avoid supply problems. Careful reporting can also help construction firms with litigation issues, both as plaintiffs and as defendants. Now if they were only more fun to write… Continue reading

Five Traits Of A Construction Superintendent

16029345959_67125db2a4_bMost construction superintendents aren’t required to turn off the lights and wash out the coffee pot at the end of the day, but given all the other duties required of them, they might as well. The construction superintendent is often the busiest person at any given time on a working site. Given the importance of this particular individual to the successful outcome of a project, what qualities should firms look for to make sure they’re hiring the right person for the job?

1. Leadership Abilities
The construction superintendent is essentially the site boss. But proclaiming someone a “boss” doesn’t necessarily make him or her good at it. Firms should select a candidate who can be assertive without being dictatorial, one who is empathic yet firm, and one who is a good delegator. For example, can work continue, and continue smoothly, if the superintendent has to be away from the site?

2. Communicator
A good superintendent is able to express himself or herself clearly both in speech and in writing. This applies to visitors, suppliers, and sub-contractors in addition to site workers.

3. Planning
A good construction superintendent knows that if you “plan for the worst, the worst never happens”. In addition to scheduling for planned work scenarios, this superintendent has contingency plans for working around weather delays, supplier problems, etc.

4. Paperwork
A good superintendent not only completes and turns in all required paperwork on time and meets deadlines. He or she is also aware of the paperwork responsibilities of other onsite employees, and has oversight into the completion and filing of these documents. Construction supervisor duties also consist of he or she taking the time to select the correct software to help expedite such paperwork, like Raken for daily reporting.

5. Integrity
The best construction site superintendents lead by example when it comes to site work and safety practices. These superintendents know that on the happiest and most effective work sites, the same accountability standards apply to all.