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Project closeout is a process usually synonymous with completing the dreaded punch list. This final phase, and the constant back and forth between the general contractor and subcontractors that comes along with it, is often deemed as the phase of a project where the most wasted time occurs.

However, it is also the phase where speed to completion is critical in order to save costs, avoid delay penalties and free up teams to concentrate on new work. The solution to this disparity is found in the cloud. By using cloud-based tools to communicate and manage punch lists, general contractors will be better able to record and communicate punch lists with the subcontractors and, in turn, subcontractors will be better able to understand the work required and act quickly.

Typically, an initial punch list is created when one person does a scheduled site walk-through to take photos of and record any items that need to be fixed. The individual will then return to his computer, upload the photos and record their findings in a spreadsheet. This process fails in several ways. First, it relies on a single person to compile the list in a short time frame, greatly increasing the chance of items being overlooked. Second, the process requires significant double work in order to transfer the information from a clipboard, smartphone or camera into the final punch list format. Using the cloud for punch list creation can help in multiple ways.

Efficient punch list creation

The easiest way to save time in punch list creation is to eliminate the double work. By using a simple cloud-based document management app such as Google Drive from a smartphone, the user will be able to quickly save photos in a shared folder and record descriptive information in a shared spreadsheet--no re-entry required!

This is a great initial fix, but it only goes part way to optimal efficiency. To further increase efficiency and organization, general contractors can use a cloud-based application designed specifically for punch list management. This will then allow the user to record photos, add issue descriptions and assign the items to subcontractors in one fell swoop. Plus, all of the information will be accessible in a dynamic format instead of a clunky spreadsheet.

Collaborative punch list creation

When punch lists are created hastily and as a part of a scheduled walk-through, it’s possible for important items to get overlooked. By using a cloud-based method to record punch lists, it becomes much easier to open the channels so that more than one person can add to the list simultaneously.

This collaborative approach allows someone to record issues as they are noticed, even if it is not their primary responsibility. This proactive approach to punch list recording goes a long way toward improving final construction quality. Using the cloud to manage punch lists also makes the process of communicating with subcontractors more efficient.

Real-time list updates

When punch lists are stored in the cloud, the issue of "versioning" essentially disappears. Storing punch lists in the cloud means they are accessed via a shared link (instead of a downloaded file) and this link will always lead to the most current version of the file. In practice, it means that if a subcontractor accesses a punch list that was sent out two days prior, but updates were made yesterday, then they will still be viewing the most current version of the list. This real-time access alleviates the need for the team to continually follow up to share different versions of the list.

Using the cloud to store punch lists will go a long way toward increasing overall project closeout efficiency. However, there are many other aspects involved in truly modernizing this process. When analyzing an existing punch list process and researching ways to improve it, consider solutions that deliver efficient list creation, real-time updates, clear issue descriptions (including photos, locations, descriptions) and simple report creation. These features can easily be delivered through easy-to-use cloud-based software applications.

For a deeper dive into the ROI when using cloud-based punch list management software, download the free eBook: Evaluating the ROI of Punch List Management Software.
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