Blog Post

Why traditional construction documentation delays projects 

27.09.2023 | 6 min read | Written by George Barnes

How do you handle your construction documentation? If you are still relying on traditional, analogue reporting, you’re not alone. According to a 2020 study by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, digital transformation is a priority for 72% of construction firms, but 32% of those surveyed spend less than 3% of total turnover on digital technologies. The intention is there, but not the investment.  

This lack of investment in digitalisation means many companies are missing out on all the benefits that digitalisation brings. And they’re also facing challenges from analogue ways of working that could be avoided.  

This is especially true in terms of construction documentation, where using outdated processes creates unnecessary challenges. Compared to digital construction documentation, traditional reporting is time-consuming, decentralised, limited in accessibility, and prone to errors. 

Let’s take a look at some of these challenges in more detail. 


1. Why conventional reports in construction hold you back 

2. Impacts on construction projects 

3. Transitioning into digital construction management 

4. What next for your construction documentation? 

Why conventional reports in construction are holding you back 

Traditional construction reporting is outdated in 2023. Here’s why: 

Time-consuming data collection

How much time do you and your team spend collecting data? In the case of handwritten notes, this can accumulate to several hours per month. But data collection is just the tip of the iceberg. Alongside inefficient documentation, there’s the challenge of not losing handwritten notes, forwarding them to the right places, and deciphering them error-free. 

It’s clear that handwritten data collection is far from optimal. And that’s why many companies incorporate hybrid or improvised techniques in their daily operations. Does jotting down data in messenger apps or smartphone notes sound familiar? 

While these methods offer some advantages over manual reports, they cannot compete with innovative tools specifically designed for the construction industry. Not only can specifically designed platforms speed up data collection, they can also address issues related to data security, communication, and efficiency. 

Challenges in photo management 

In cases of defects and their rectification, photos are the most obvious solution. Everyone involved can instantly see the issue, defects can be visualised, and repairs can be visually tracked. 

Organising these photos and having them readily available, however, is a challenge. On your mobile phone’s gallery, the rough location of the photos might be stored in the details. However, this information is often too imprecise to match the photo location to a construction plan. 

On top of that, organising these photos by project so that everyone involved has access can be labour-intensive. Later, when a specific image is requested, how do you find it?. Without sorting photos by location or categorising them by project, it’s nearly impossible to quickly and professionally link photos in a report that all relevant parties can access. 

In short, photos in traditional reporting: 

  • Can’t be assigned to a specific location on a construction plan 
  • Are hard to organize and retrieve 
  • Are only somewhat sortable and accessible by project 
  • Are not suitable for flexible linking in professional reports 


Inconsistent data processing 

One of the primary issues arising from traditional construction documentation is data processing. Even minor mistakes can lead to a series of complications that severely affect the project. 

Are you grappling with inconsistent construction documentation instead of maintaining a centralised digital construction diary? With conventional data processing methods, vital information is often scattered across various documents. Manual data entry frequently results in additional work as errors need correcting, data must be checked, and documents have to be edited multiple times. This process is time-consuming and can strain your project’s budget. 

Digital construction documentation, via a construction documentation app for example, makes data process much more efficient, accurate and, importantly – easier. 

Rigid reporting templates 

Writing reports by hand on a blank piece of paper is unsustainable. Therefore, it’s likely that you use report templates in one form or another. While these templates provide structure and ensure that nothing is overlooked, they aren’t particularly flexible. And when clients have specific requirements, meeting them with standard templates is especially challenging. 

Conventional templates reach their limits quickly, especially when individual modifications are required. They are: 

  • Limited in adaptability 
  • Rigid format 
  • Entail significant extra effort for client-specific stipulations 


The result? More work, more time wasted, and a higher risk of errors. When clients have unique requirements, working with inflexible conventional templates becomes challenging. 

It’s time to seek more adaptable solutions for construction reporting, like digital construction documentation. 

PlanRadar has enabled our site inspection teams to gather site data quickly and efficiently, whilst significantly reducing the time required to process and present this data.

Angus Elliot, ARUP

Impacts on construction projects 

It’s clear that the disadvantages of traditional construction documentation visibly affect your construction projects. But what does this impact actually mean for your construction company? When it comes to decision-making, communication with stakeholders, and assigning responsibilities, the potential impacts on project success are severe, so let’s take a look. 

Delays in decision-making 

Tired of delays in decision-making and seeking ways to manage construction projects more efficiently? One area worth addressing is construction documentation. If data isn’t promptly, accurately, and comprehensibly processed and delivered, making timely interventions becomes tough. This lack of foundational data jeopardizes the overall project timeline. 

Timing is crucial, and projects that stall result in increased costs. Inefficient reporting both causes delays in decision-making and has direct negative impacts on project timelines and budgets. 

Communication challenges 

Another consequence of outdated construction documentation is communication issues. Data needs to be stored centrally, comprehensively, up-to-date, and accessible. 

In the case of inefficient construction documentation, this is either not the case or only to a limited extent. Notes, reports, and comments are often scattered across different mediums, and it’s hard to keep track. Those affected cannot gain quick insights into the project’s status. This lack of transparency hinders communication and leads to misunderstandings and unnecessary project delays. 

Effective communication is key to successful construction project management. All parties involved, from workers to clients, should receive the necessary data in real-time. 

Undefined assignment of responsibilities 

Assigning tasks and responsibilities is essential for construction projects. But, if your documentation doesn’t facilitate it, the process becomes more complex. Construction documentation must capture tasks transparently, reliably, and comprehensively. For tasks to be completed successfully, it must be clear who’s responsible for them and what exactly the assignment entails. 

Traditional construction documentation often struggles to meet these requirements. Decentralised storage and inconsistent data handling make it hard to keep track. Unclear documentation can lead to tasks being overlooked, assigned to the wrong parties, or improperly executed. The result is project delays, increased costs, and avoidable mistakes. 

With PlanRadar, we save around 50 to 60 per cent on the time spent for inspections and document reviews alone by eliminating time-consuming follow-up work required in the office.

Franz Wudy, Caverion

Transitioning into digital construction management 

A modern construction management system is far more than a mere documentation tool. It’s an innovative solution that enables you to digitise your entire project. And there are excellent reasons for this. 

Using a construction documentation app, for example provides many benefits: 

  • Fast data collection and instant data transmission 
  • Comprehensive photo management with precise location assignment and organization 
  • Consistent and centralized data processing 
  • Flexible reporting with individually adaptable templates 
  • Central storage of all project-relevant data 
  • Comprehensive, flexible, and real-time communication with all stakeholders 
  • Clear assignment of tasks and responsibilities 


There’s no need to wait. To take your construction projects to the next level and operate at maximum efficiency, take the leap into digital construction management today.


Want to know more?

Visit our dedicated construction documentation page

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What next for your construction documentation? 

Hopefully it’s clear that relying on outdated construction documentation methods in 2023 is not sustainable. From time-consuming data collection and photo management issues to inconsistent data processing and rigid report templates, the disadvantages of traditional construction documentation are numerous. What’s more, the impacts on construction projects, like delays in decision-making, communication issues, and undefined task assignments, are significant. 

If you want to handle your construction documentation efficiently and professionally, it’s time to turn to digital solutions. A modern construction management system will transform your processes, allowing for faster, more efficient, and more transparent project management. 

Try PlanRadar free for 30 days to see the impact for yourself.

It won’t take long for PlanRadar to transform your construction documentation. Try PlanRadar for free for 30 days and see the results.

Get started in 4 easy steps.

1. Create an account

2. Upload plans

3. Invite team members

4. Download app