IS YOUR CURRENT PUNCH LIST APP DOING ENOUGH HEAVY LIFTING?
It’s always a good idea to stop from time to time and assess what we are doing. When it comes to construction inspections and punch lists there’s a tendency to dive in with the familiar, without questioning how well our systems are performing. For most projects, the final punch list and closeout is the most painful part of the process. When a punch list system can efficiently dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s, you’ll save time and money, reduce a ton of stress, and end up with excellent documentation to turn over to upper management and the project owner.
Identify what you and other stakeholders like about your existing system. It’s always best to start with the positives, and then logically work through each step of your process to identify what could be better.2. Does your current punch list app work on a variety of devices?
Let’s start with the basics. If your application is limited to iPads, this makes it difficult for other stakeholders to participate. While iPads are popular, many people use Android and Windows tablets. Most often subcontractors don’t have tablets, but they have smartphones. Does your app limit who can use it based on device restrictions?3. Can you use your punch list app offline?
Many punch list apps on the market require an Internet connection in the field. When tethered to the internet, every action you perform on your app syncs back to a server. If the sync process is slowing you down in the field (the spinning wheel that won’t let you continue until it has done its thing), that’s more wasted time. Secondly, if you are inspecting in a basement surrounded by steel and concrete, you won’t get a signal, and can’t proceed.4. How easily do new users learn the application?
Your app should be user friendly. Is it easy to train new users? That’s a good clue. Are field personnel asking you to remind them how to use the app, or can they easily pick it back up, even after weeks away from the jobsite? If users have a hard time understanding how to use the system, you risk poor adoption and more wasted time.5. Is your punch list app speeding up your inspections?
Evaluation of speed requires a balanced point of view. Yes, it could be easier to scribble some notes on a sheet of paper or tag a PDF with a description, and that could make the initial inspection appear to go faster, but relevant information will be missing. Whoever is responsible to do something with the list won’t have much detailed information to convey to responsible parties. Now you’re left with going back to the jobsite to meet with the sub to explain what you meant. An ideal punch list app will streamline efforts to speed up your inspections.6. Do you have a good system for managing photos detailing punch items?
Does your current approach allow for photos and other documentation to become part of the record of a punch item, or does the documentation reside in a separate file folder or other repository? If your photo documentation is not directly associated to punch items, and stakeholders are required to hunt around to find supporting evidence, more time is wasted searching for or not seeing the complete scope of an issue.7. What are the reporting capabilities?
Does your punch list app fire off a message to a sub each time a punch item is generated? That’s annoying! Do you have to grab information from the app and transfer it to your email system? That’s a pain! Can you batch email your subs directly from the system? That’s handy! Can you select specific criteria for generating reports relevant to specific situations, or are you stuck with limited report formats? The more flexibility your reporting system has, the better you’ll be able to communicate with all stakeholders on a project. How about turnover to the project owner? Does your application provide clear evidence that deficiencies have been identified and resolved?8. Is your punch list app flexible?
Is the application straight out of the box, or is it customizable, allowing you to determine the punch list tasks, descriptions, actions, locations, and inspection types that are specific to your way of doing things? Does your system allow you to adjust permission settings for stakeholder groups as well as specific users? Or are you stuck with the software provider’s pre-determined groupings? Can it handle other types of inspections like safety, warranty, and maintenance?9. How’s the technical support?
No matter how good the software is, you may need technical support and project management advice. When you need help, do you get to speak with an actual person on the phone, or are you stuck on hold trying to use voice prompts?10. What else is out there?
As more construction companies adopt digital punch lists, more options are available on the market. Taking a step back and reviewing other solutions can help you decide if your current system is working well for you, or if you need a solution that does some real heavy lifting.
10 key questions to ask about your current punch list approach