Blog Post

Five Steps to Receiving Better Data from the Construction Site

Posted by Brett Long

construction worker using forms on tablet for construction site reports

Construction supervisors have a ton of work on their plate. Consider what a typical work week might look like for them:

Supervise employees: As the supervisor, you need to check on employees to make sure they’re following the schedule. From time to time, supervisors also have to work on union-related issues.

Maintain safety standards: Construction work is dangerous. Supervisors need to make sure all staff members attend safety meetings and receive functional safety training. If a safety requirement is missed, employees may suffer, and the company’s reputation will take a hit.

Work with the customer: Even the most understanding customers are going to have complaints occasionally. For example, a customer points out that construction noise on one floor is upsetting other tenants. A construction supervisor is often the first person to hear these complaints.

Complete head office requirements: If the above wasn’t enough, there are also forms and paperwork to be completed for the head office. Compared to safety and employee issues, many supervisors see these forms as less important. Yet, those forms contain critical data for head office to detect problems and hit corporate goals.

Five Steps to Receiving Better Data from the Construction Site

Work through this list to get better quality data from the field.

1. Simplify Your Form to the Essentials

The more questions you have on your forms, the more likely you are to have incomplete or inaccurate information. As a rule of thumb, use 10 or fewer questions on weekly forms. For monthly, quarterly, or annual forms, you can get away with asking more questions.

Before you do anything else, analyze your forms critically and see how you can simplify your questions.

Resource: Do you have a form in the field that requires construction supervisors to enter location information? Entering the same city, address, and zip code data each week is mind-numbing. That’s why Device Magic introduced geomapping. With this capability, you can automatically detect the user’s location based on his or her smartphone. That means you receive location data without having to ask for it.

2. Move Your Forms to a Mobile Digital Platform

Construction supervisors have a lot to manage, so don’t ask them to fill out paper forms. Instead, use digital forms. They don’t have to worry about their handwriting or dropping off forms at the head office each week. Instead, you can leverage the mobile devices your construction supervisors already have in their pockets.

Caution: You might think about using a spreadsheet or Microsoft Word document as a form. That’s a mistake. While those are digital files, there’s no easy way to connect them to your workflow. Practically, that means an overworked administrator will have to copy and paste data just to get your data ready for use. Instead of that, use Device Magic’s enterprise form solution. It’s built to integrate directly into Slack, Podio, Google Drive, and Salesforce.

3. Use a Variety of Fields, Not Just Text

Designing easy-to-use digital forms probably isn’t something you think about every day; it’s something you do on the side when the need comes up. To get better data from construction staff, use these different form features.

  • Free text fields: Include this question type at the end of a form as a backup to make sure nothing important is missed. If you start to see patterns in the data, you may be able to create a Yes/No or multiple choice question. Remember that free text fields are difficult to summarize, so use them with care.
  • Multiple select questions: Give a few options to help front line staff classify issues (e.g., number of people impacted by a safety failure).
  • Yes/No questions: Use this question type to measure simple questions, such as “Has the annual construction safety training been completed?”
  • Photos: Sometimes, a photo is the best way to explain a situation. Use photos to supplement status reports to customers.

4. Launch the New Form to Your Construction Supervisors

You’ve created a new mobile-friendly form for your construction company. Your next step is to distribute the form to your staff. When you first launch it, invite supervisors to ask questions and seek clarification. You may have unclear questions or questions that don’t make sense when you first create a form.

5. Tell Your Construction Supervisors About the Results

If you want your employees to stay engaged, tell them about the results you achieved with your new mobile forms. For example, you might have addressed customer complaints more quickly and saved the company from losing an important contract.

Until you demonstrate the value achieved by using mobile forms, your construction supervisors aren’t going to make filling in forms a priority.

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