Digital Punch Lists: Improving Productivity on the Construction Site with Technology

Published March 8, 2017 by Whirlwind Team

digital punch list

Everything else is going digital, why not punch lists? In fact, maybe punch lists should be the first thing you go digital with. Wouldn’t you love to get rid of the daily slog of:

  • Writing down punch list items and defects
  • Staying late at the office to fill in a spreadsheet
  • Getting the information to the correct sub
  • Checking back day after day to see if the item is complete

Who wouldn’t?!?

What is it a digital punch list?

A digital punch list is a construction application for your mobile device, like your smartphone or tablet. It replaces all that paper and the Excel spreadsheet you are using now. General contractors and subs can update each other in real time on the status of closeout items as the job is completed.

You can attach photos, videos, and documents directly to specific punch lists, then prioritize and sort the tasks by contractor and cost. Compare the project status and change orders against the schedule and the budget.

The application can be a standalone or part of a construction management solution.

Why you should have it

The construction industry is highly visual but in the past image capture was difficult if not impossible for punch lists. With digital, you can capture, and data mine information, including images, more easily.

Field tech reporting is streamlined. You can accelerate closeout of your projects. You can leverage the camera and connectivity of your mobile devices to speed up project completion and approval.

Benefits of using a digital punch list

The two biggest benefits are the elimination of:

  • Paper management
  • End-of-day manual entry of project updates

You can reconcile completed tasks quickly as they occur, driving efficiencies for staying on schedule and under budget. If you integrate your data into a central repository, you can mine the data to support better decision-making. As a GC you can take a deep dive into analytics if you want.

What to look for in an application

The main sticking point of new technology is adoption. You need an application subs and GCs will not just adopt but embrace. It needs a simple and intuitive user experience and interface so you can be up and running within 48 hours instead of sitting through three weeks of training.

If you use other solutions, look for a punch list application that will integrate into it. Many apps can be plugged into a variety of ERP, project management, and accounting software solutions.

Make sure you have photo markup, email, and push notification at a minimum.

digital punch list apps

Procore

3-8 procore.jpgProcore provides a voice actuated application that allows you to drop issues into your current set, assign responsibility, select a due date, and track its status.

You can create the items while you are in the field and drop them directly into the drawings. You can even leave specific instructions and comments and filter the punch list items by status - resolved, unresolved, open, closed. 

You can maintain the action history in real time. Anytime comments are added you get a notification. You can use the information to determine the impact to the project cost and schedule.

Capterra Overall Rating: 4.5/5 (779 reviews)

Fieldwire

3-8 fieldwire.pngFieldwire allows you create photos, checklists, categories, hashtags, and due dates in the field (thus the name). You can attach notes, manpower estimates, and cost estimates. If you want, you can create templates for common deficiencies with attached checklists. Then you can duplicate the templates across locations that require quality control or quality assurance review.

It will generate reports in PDF; some reports can be automated for a timed send or shared immediately. Walkthroughs are completed faster. Fieldwire has a two-step verification system in which only Admins have the ability to verify completion of deficiencies.

Capterra Overall Rating: 5/5 (6 reviews)

Bridgit Closeout

3-8 bridgit closeout.pngCloseout lets you create different lists for the punch list, the subcontractor, the owner walkthrough, and a pre-board checklist. You can add photos to an item with a title, location, and assignee.

Obtain reports with a single click in PDF or Excel format. Automated messages can be added to the subcontractor’s prescheduled summary email when it is assigned. You don’t need to send a separate email later.

Capterra Overall Rating: 5/5 (9 reviews)

Buildmetric

3-8 buildmetric.pngBuildmetric allows you to report in real time with a mobile device so you can keep everyone in the organization informed and updated. You can even use it to produce reports for bank draws.

The application creates a historical record and the efficiency gained enhances project scalability. You have standardized, and predictable communication and your site inspections by quality surveyors may be reduced. Loan agreement potential is increased.

Capterra Overall Rating: 5/5 (1 review)

Finishline

3-8 finishline.jpgUsing the Finishline punch list application, you do not have to try to remember everything you did and update an Excel spreadsheet or paper report at the end of each day throughout the project. You can update it as you go and skip the manual entry.

Architects can use the application for field observation reports. Entry is quick and easy using your device’s touchscreen. You can distribute reports via email. Everyone uses standardized terminology and technology for everyone.

Capterra Overall Rating: 4/5 (1 review)

FINALCAD

3-8 finalcad.pngFINALCAD lets you perform site inspections on a mobile device such as a smartphone or a tablet over the entire lifecycle of the project. You can consult a 3D BIM model on your phone and record anything directly to the plans.

You can avoid duplication of observations and control sheets while providing quality control at every stage of the project, including major works, secondary works, defects management, and final completion or project hand-off. You can anticipate potential corrections and pass them to the rest of the design team and have a smooth exchange during defect management.

Capterra Overall Rating 4/5 (1 review)


A digital punch list can shave two or three hours out of your daily routine by eliminating manual entry, duplication, and adding the capability to attach photos and videos and add notes directly to the plans.

In the future, you may also see more analysis and data mining from photo and video data in the field while prepopulating fields and auto-assigning tasks.

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