There are some basic, logical steps to follow when conducting a site visit. Types of data collection and the equipment used will vary depending on the nature of the project, but use this guide to perform any investigation successfully.

1. Develop a Site Visit Plan.

A comprehensive plan is necessary to complete in the office before going out into the field. This includes documenting all risks and hazards that could be encountered. It also includes where the nearest hospital is located and emergency contact information. Most companies require this to be completed, but if you're a consultant or independent contractor it helps give the client peace of mind. If applicable, get a supervising manager to sign-off on the plan before going out into the field

2. Bring the Right Equipment.

It is obviously important to have the necessary equipment to accomplish the work. This includes all technical equipment, a field book for taking notes, and safety equipment. A field book is an essential component of any field professional's toolkit. Be sure to write everything down, to develop a comprehensive report later. Safety equipment is usually a must to enter any construction zone. Wear steel toed boats, hard hats, safety glasses, and a high visibility vest or clothing, as required. Also, don't forget the first aid kit!

3. Conduct a Site Walk-Through.

Conduct a walk-through when you first arrive to get familiar with the site. This is also a good way for you to get to know if their are any other parties on-site at the same time, from construction teams to members of the public. Take lots of photos or sketch out the site plans to make notes and present your findings later. It is also useful to discover any hazards that could present safety issues, for future information and to warn other team members who may be entering the site.

4. Conduct the Site Investigation.

A thorough site investigation can include the use of various data collection methods, including soil testing techniques, total station surveying, GPS locating, and many others. Find out which tests are required to collect the data you need and the type of equipment that is necessary to achieve the best results from your investigation. Don't rush your work, but be productive with your data collection methods and plan accordingly.

5. Report Your Findings.

Now that you're back at the office, it's time to analyze the data you have collected and translate your raw notes into key findings and recommendations. Offer proposed solutions and important considerations, or recommend further testing if the information gathered is either insufficient, or the complex nature of the site requires further analysis. The report should always include your procedure, data analysis, and conclusion of findings with the supporting raw data you collected in an appendix. Get a colleague or supervisor to review your report before submitting it for official use.