Nearly all of the profits gained from a construction project can be traced back to the job site. And the most telling source of a project’s profitability is in the daily logs -- assuming you know what to look for in those records.

The daily log, or as some have affectionately dubbed it, “the daily slog” is an often required record detailing the activities performed on a given day. This includes who was there, what they did, any issues or incidents, weather conditions, equipment, and the overall progress of the project.

The responsibility of maintaining the daily log often falls to the project manager, site supervisor or a field engineer. They record the information on paper or digitally. The records are always filed away as a reference in case they’re needed to research safety or HR incidents, prove regulatory compliance, resolve payment issues, etc.

Unfortunately, too many people view the daily log as a time-consuming tactic when it can be a strategic tool for uncovering hidden opportunities to increase profits.

Three Critical Data Points in the Daily Log

Taking a closer look at the daily log on a regular basis helps to uncover patterns that aren’t always apparent. Here are three kinds of data contained in the daily log that offer insight into the profitability of the project and health of the business.

1. Actual vs Plan: A project plan contains your best judgment of the tasks to be performed, who will perform them, how long the tasks are estimated to take, and what other tasks are required to complete a milestone.

One area that’s always challenging to gauge is staffing. While the construction worker shortage shows no signs of easing, the daily log can give you a better indication of the productivity of each worker, crew and subcontractor, including metrics such as: most productive days, tasks where you’re over or understaffed, and absenteeism trends. When you look at projects or trends over a period of time, you can proactively prevent slips, incentivize key resources, and identify which subcontractors are most reliable.

2. Weather: General contractors are not meteorologists nor are they expected to predict the weather. However, keeping a record of weather and seeing patterns in it as it relates to productivity offers additional insight. For example, if you’re working in an area that’s been severely impacted by heat waves in July or windstorms in October, you can factor that information into project planning. Additionally, if a weather incident happens in the middle of a project, having the current record along with past records helps justify a delay or change order.

3. Equipment: You can align site equipment information with how often it’s used and how long it takes to complete an assignment. This tells you about the skill sets of the crew and helps validate the need for additional training or new equipment.

When you use daily logs to spot trends and better understand how projects are managed and completed, current and future project bidding is more accurate and profitable.

One way to shift the mindset of the daily log from tactical to strategic is to streamline the admin process and automate daily log data capture. To do this, a lot of GCs are using digital check-in apps. They eliminate paper-based processes, simplify check in, and administer assignments using a worker’s smartphone.

Digital check-ins have also been used to improve incident management. For example, you can quickly report on percentages of workers that have read and understood safety protocols or have been vaccinated against COVID-19.

Integrating Daily Logs with Project Management Software

Taking it further, when you integrate daily log data with a project management solution, your energy and attention shifts from data entry and acquisition to spot bigger picture weekly, monthly and yearly trends.

When you connect what’s happening in the field to the data that’s critical for running the business, you have a more comprehensive view of company operations. You also reduce risks and liabilities by having digital records that are legible, time-stamped, and verifiable. You also have the basis for a digital transformation of your business.