Tips to Reduce Reporting Time

After discussing with 100+ engineering firms about reporting, the majority said that 40% to 60% of the bridge inspection process is spent on writing reports. Time is money and so any time that you can save on your reporting will directly reduce your costs.  In attempt to help make reporting quicker, we have put together three tips that can help you save time and money on your bridge inspection reports:

  • Creating Report Templates for Narrative Reports

  • Filling Your Form & Spreadsheet Reports in the Field

  • Automating Data Input Into 3rd Party Software

Creating Report Templates for Narrative Reports While each client requires a different reporting format, we identified the three that are used most often: 

  1. Form

  2. Spreadsheet

  3. Narrative Report. Narrative reports can differ in design and content so based off of specific requirements, you will need to create a template for each client.

To create a template, you can use Word and start drafting your report just like you would do for an inspection but without any data to input. Below is an example of a cover page, defect table and photolog for a narrative report template:

When you are done drafting your template report make sure to save your document as a “.dotx” to save it as a template. Your template will be saved under the “Custom Office Templates” in the “Documents” folder and can be accessed and edited at any time.

Filling Your Form & Spreadsheet Reports in the Field

The other reporting formats as discussed in the first section are form and spreadsheet reports. To expedite the reporting process for these formats you will fill part or all of your form or spreadsheet in the field. In the case of a form, create a template just like we showed in the previous section. In the case of a spreadsheet report, you can use Excel to create tables with columns being the various data that needs to be collected. We detail how this can be done in this blog.

Make sure that both your form and spreadsheet can be accessed via a mobile device or tablet so you can access them in the field. Word documents and Excel files are two examples in this case.

When in the field open your form or spreadsheet and start filling out as much information as time permits. It’s understandable that you won’t be able to fill out all of this in the field, but it is fine to go back to the office to finish up.

Automating Data Input Into 3rd Party Software

In addition to the form, spreadsheet and narrative report, clients can still require inputting the same data again into their software.

To do so, it is important you first ensure that you collect your data electronically. For more on these details, take a look at this blog - 3 Tips to Improve Your Field Bridge Inspection.

When you collect your data electronically you can use it to populate your form, spreadsheet or build your narrative report as well upload it directly into your client’s software. 

To upload the data directly, you or someone in your firm need to have some coding skills.

You can either create a script that will mimic human behavior by copying your data, opening your client’s browser and pasting each data in its right place. Alternatively, if your client’s software has APIs to interface with you can use them as well.

Generally, there’s no formula to go about this, it all depends on the client software. Coming from a civil and structural engineering background you are not expected to know how to code. If you already, that’s great. Otherwise, contact us for help at

Reduce Costs of Bridge Inspection Reporting by 75% with Data Recon

If you want to expedite your reporting time and decrease your reporting costs without going through the hassle of setting up spreadsheets and templates, check out our bridge inspection software Data Recon.

Data Recon, enables you to collect your data electronically and generate your reports automatically whether they are forms, spreadsheets or narrative documents. All while being fully customizable to fit yours and your clients needs. Learn more here.