From Papyrus to Digital: History of Construction Reports

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construction reporting history

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 creating construction reports is easy. 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.