Learn how to use WhatsApp for reporting in this blog. Understand the risks of using this messaging app to share news and communicate among the team.WhatsApp is being used by construction site teams all over the world to communicate progress, key issues and photographs of works. But is it really a viable alternative?
As a free, instant messaging tool that most people already know how to use, it seems like a clear choice. The ability to add photos to messages, in particular, has boosted WhatsApp’s profile as a rival to Excel or email.
But WhatsApp is ultimately a social networking tool, not a business platform, and the risks of using it for construction reporting far outweigh the benefits. The cost of lost income, opportunity and inefficient working will soon overtake the cost of a bespoke alternative.
Table of contents
Here are some of the main risks associated with using WhatsApp for construction site reporting.
1 - Information Is Not Structured
All communication over WhatsApp is non-standardized. With no set structure for your reporting, critical information can easily be missed out. Your project management, payment substantiation and other vital operations could be delayed because a key detail such as the weather, access time or labour is not recorded.
This lack of structure spills over into your client updates as well. If you are typing up information from messages, your progress report is likely to contain different information and terminology each time, making it difficult for the client to evaluate your performance.
2 - Difficult To Find Data When You Need It The Most
Your project information isn’t just useful in real-time. You may need to refer back to it later on for compensation events, disputes or long-term learning. For example, if you need to back up a compensation event for additional services, you will need to provide a comprehensive report of what happened on site to cause the additional work.
WhatsApp does have a keyword search function, but you cannot filter by a specific date, shift, or even individual task very easily. In some cases, you may not even know what you are searching for. In the case of an audit or legal issue, you run the risk of being unable to provide sufficient documentation and detail.
Understanding the latest secure features of WhatsApp, Source: Gadgets Now
3 - Increased Admin Time
Extracting information from WhatsApp and typing it into a report is time-intensive and takes your staff’s time away from more valuable tasks. Double handling of data creates confusion, and reduces quality, as people struggle to decipher the key facts from a slew of messages and format it into a quantifiable report.
By the time this laborious task is done and the report is distributed among project management teams and clients, it could well be out of date. Using your data to predict potential problems, budget or schedule overruns is a pipedream if the issues have already occurred by the time you see the figures.
4 - Risk Of Data Loss
Most contracts require contractors to keep their shift records for 6 - 12 years. Content created and distributed on WhatsApp can easily be lost within that time leaving contractors liable for breach of contract.
The same can be said for reports typed up from information provided over WhatsApp. Anyone with access to your drive could change or erase key data by accident. A specialised project management system can apply proper user permissions, store and back up data securely.
5 - GDPR Non-compliance
WhatsApp cannot guarantee that conversations and files are confidential and, does not recommend using the platform for professional use. In fact, they have specific agreements and contracts in place for any businesses who wish to use it.
Construction reporting can contain sensitive data such as budgets, stakeholder details and plans for huge infrastructure schemes, as well as personal staff information. Broadcasting this information through a group of people, on an insecure platform, creates significant risks for your business.
As employees and contractors move on, they could take this data with them on their own device, and no one has clear agency and responsibility for the provision and protection of that data. In the case of a GDPR audit, it would be impossible to prove that sensitive information had been handled correctly and deleted when no longer in use.
6 - Unprofessional Client Reports
Clients expect information that is clear, concise and compares key metrics against milestones or payment applications. Non-standardized notes typed up from a WhatsApp thread won’t give them the consistent metrics they need to compare and evaluate project progress.
This can impact your business in a number of ways; from causing the client extra hassle and souring the relationship, to missing out on a payment claim due to unsubstantiated delays.
7 - Inefficient Communications
Unstructured communication spread across multiple groups makes it difficult to keep track of vital updates, such as a close call on-site or missing material delivery. This can result in missed deadlines, incorrect work and unhappy clients.
In a WhatsApp group there is no clear chain of communication, so you cannot confirm that the appropriate person has seen your message before the thread is flooded. You also cannot verify what you are being told, making it difficult to manage effectively.
8 - No Long-term Learning
Using WhatsApp to collate project data means you miss out on an invaluable opportunity: using previous project data for long-term learning. A specialist, secure platform for your data gives you the option of collating data from previous projects and using it to improve future delivery.
For example, your historic data can be analysed and averaged out to calculate cost and output for specific activities, forecast length and resource requirements, and create more thorough risk registers.
Raildiary facilitates real-time reporting, complete with photo and video, through a bespoke and secure data-collection app. Instantly generate reports in one, standardised format for seamless project communication and management. Our reports can be integrated into existing project plans and other management software to cut down on admin time and make clear comparisons.
We provide return-on-investment for our software through a range of benefits such as getting paid for all of your work, winning more work with improved tenders and reducing costly delays or disputes. We focus heavily on customer success and ensuring that team members feel comfortable with the new process, offering a range of training methods and continuous product support.