4 Tips to Help You Improve Your Construction Document Management

4 minute read

Construction projects are complex entities. They produce a lot of data that needs to be collected, organized, analyzed, and shared.

However, this data is not always fully utilized. According to FMI, the consulting and investment banking firm, 96% of all Engineering and Construction (E&C) data goes unused.

Construction document management can make or break a project. Having the correct data at your fingertips when required is crucial to completing projects on time and within budget. Here, the risk is also kept to a minimum, and compliance requirements are met.

Construction companies can maximize the benefits of their construction document management by thoroughly examining their document workflow. They must consider digitizing and centralizing it to take advantage of the automation capabilities provided by project document software.

See how Asite makes it easy to manage all your construction docs

To make the most of your project data and keep your project on track, here are four document management tips:

1. Examine Your Current Document Management System

First, take a look at your own document management workflow, standards, and tools. Perform a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis. This will help you identify areas for improvement.

When performing the SWOT analysis, consider your company culture. This will help you tailor your responses specific to your company.

Ask yourself questions, such as:

- What are the standard procedures for document management?

- Where are those procedures kept?

- What software or tools are needed?

- How does your company communicate and enforce them?

- Who is responsible for document management?

- How user-friendly are the procedures?

- How well does the document management software integrate with other company software?

- Are the document management tools mobile-friendly?

- Is the information contained in those tools secure?

Compare your methods and tools to others in the industry. Look for products and practices that can enhance your construction document management.

If you don’t have standard procedures for document management, you should create them.


2. Digitize Your Project Documents

The second step, and one of the most important, is to digitize your document management system as much as possible.

Digitizing documents improves access, productivity, efficiency, communication, accuracy, and so much more.

With digital documents hosted online, anyone on your team with an internet connection and security clearance can access construction documents in real-time.

The traditional way of using primarily paper documents required companies to rent out office space to store thousands of blueprints and other documentation. Plus, they had to staff the office with clerks whose sole responsibility was to manage the documentation. Project managers, architects, and engineers no longer need to drive to a physical location to view or update documents. Instead, with cloud-based construction software, access is at their fingertips.

Also, companies can save money by not renting office space and staffing them with clerks. Fingertip access also reduces travel time for key stakeholders, saving money and being more efficient. KPMG suggests digital information management could save construction and infrastructure organizations between 1.6% and 18% of costs depending on the lifecycle stage.

Digital documentation also increases productivity. The traditional, paper-based method protracts issues found in the field.

KPMG suggests digital information management could save construction and infrastructure organizations between 1.6% and 18% of costs depending on the lifecycle stage.

Consider this example: a plumber on a project attempts to install pipe based on the blueprints. When they reach the section where the pipe is supposed to be installed, they find an object or structure that should not be there. To resolve the issue, they contact their supervisor, who would contact the general contractor. If the supervisor is dealing with another issue on another project, they might not reach the general contractor until late in the day. Maybe the GC reaches out to the architect, who has gone for the day. The following morning, the architect gets the message and draws up new blueprints, which get couriered to the construction site by the end of the day—almost two days since the issue was identified. Now, the subcontractor must schedule personnel to go out on a different day.

Compare that scenario to a project that runs into the same issue, but they use an online construction document management software. The plumber discovers the object in the field. As the GC has shared access to the project documents with all subcontractors, the plumber can take a picture of the issue with their mobile device, write notes, ask questions, and feed it into the software. The software notifies their supervisor, the architect, the project manager, and anyone else who needs to know. The plumber doesn’t even have to know the contact information of these parties. The software can be set up to notify particular people when an RFI (request for information) or change order is put into the system. The architect makes the changes, and everyone is informed of the change by mid-morning. The plumber completes the work that day.

By using an app or a portal to communicate with key stakeholders, communication is improved.


3. Centralize Your Document Management System

Digitalization also allows for centralizing information into one or a few interoperable solutions instead of dispersed data across disparate systems.

Storing information in one central location creates a single source of truth. And, by having only one version of all project documents, you will never have to toggle through multiple versions of a doc, wondering which one is the most up to date.

This makes decision-making more efficient and leads to more accurate work. Since you always know which construction document is the latest version, you will always work with the correct data.

Working with documents stored in multiple places leads to confusion, mistakes, and rework. Having all documents in a central location eliminates those problems. When members on a team create their documents, share them with whom they choose, and store them where they want, you lose control over documentation. Having all documents in a central location eliminates these issues.

Project documents are stored in one central location, allowing you to track all changes, collect all project data, improve decision-making, save time and money, and get an eagle-eyed view of your project.

Also, by putting all the centralized data into the cloud, it can easily be accessed by everyone on the team. This makes collaboration among team members working in different locations—be it the office, the field, or even other regions—much easier.


4. Take Advantage of Automation

Finally, construction document management software and project management software include the ability to automate specific actions, usually mundane and repetitive tasks.

Notifying all concerned parties when a change or an RFI is made is one form of automation. Reminders or alerts for deliveries and deadlines and the generation of reports (cost, labor, progress, etc.) are two more.

Other functions that can be automated include auto-population of data, auto-calculation of data, and the creation of submittals, invoices, and payslips.

These processes usually take up a lot of your valuable time and effort, but all these functions can be automated with the right construction document management software.

Other functions that can be automated include auto-population of data, auto-calculation of data, and the creation of submittals, invoices, and payslips.

Automating functions saves time and results in more accurate documents since human error data entry mistakes are eliminated.

Want to get better at keeping your construction documents in check? Discover how the Asite Document Management Software helps manage your project information on one centralized platform. Find out how you and your team can benefit here.

Nathan Medcalf writes about technology, heavy equipment, and construction for numerous clients and has been published in more than 30 trade publications since 2006.

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