4 Ways to Prevent Common Document Management Headaches
March 03, 2022
Capital projects are notorious for amassing an immense amount of documentation over the long duration of their builds. Managing it all effectively, though, has proven to be a bit of a challenge for many construction companies.
Ironically, for all the precision that goes into assembling a structure, that same level of detail hasn’t always been applied to assembling a structure for their documents. And that has created quite a few headaches. Some of them stem from holding on to the familiar paper-based documentation practices. And others have arisen when adopting a technology-based construction document management system, but the company still retains some of those paper-based processes — a hybrid approach that introduces some improvement but doesn’t deliver all the potential process efficiencies and cost savings.
If you’re experiencing some of these, how can you address them? We’re sharing four key ideas here. They’re not quick fixes but can make it so you won’t be hitting the aspirin quite as much.
#1 Create a centralized online document repository
How many head-scratching moments have you had wondering where the document you’re looking for could be — in a filing cabinet, on a server, on a random computer, or even in someone’s email inbox? If it’s stored digitally, what’s the filename? And is it the right version reflecting the latest edits and changes? No one can afford all the time wasted digging for what seems like a tiny needle in a very large haystack — especially when the clock is ticking and you’re on a bidding deadline, responding to an audit or you have a time-sensitive decision to make out in the field. Centralizing everything is a logical place to start.
Contractors are turning to cloud-based construction document management to solve for these kinds of challenges. Everything from project photos to inspection reports to daily logs can be housed in this online filing cabinet as a single source of truth. To be clear, simply digitizing and moving files to the cloud won’t automatically solve the document-locating ordeal. There still has to be standardization in terms of structure. Switching to a virtual repository is an opportunity to establish that much-needed consistency in terms of logical file naming, organizing and versioning — so you and other project team members can more easily navigate your way to the document you need when you need it.
#2 Open up document accessibility
But navigating to what you need when you need it depends on how and where you retrieve it — in other words, access. Centralization without access would be like storing all those critical documents in one file drawer, locking it, and then running away with the key. This inability to obtain timely project information has been a perpetual problem. Again, adopting a cloud-based approach to construction document management provides that necessary access.
Especially now with business being conducted remotely, offsite stakeholders don’t have to be tethered to an office computer to get hold of the information they need. One big benefit: they can collaborate with other project team members who can all view the same documents, enabling them to make data-driven decisions in real time.
#3 Eliminate time-consuming updates made in the field via easy mobile access
To really get the full value of this cloud-based software for capital projects, though, it must have a mobile option. Mobility is what expands access to all project team members. Think of what this means for site crews out in the field. They can view and act on schedules, the latest drawings and change orders through any mobile device, whether it’s the one in their back pocket or the one at the jobsite. So, job task workflow and completion becomes more streamlined.
But mobility isn’t just about retrieving documents. It’s also about being able to rely on those mobile devices to notate documents in real time out in the field so they’re automatically reflected within the system for all project team members. Gone is the arduous transfer of change after change from hard copy documents to their online versions, as well as the risk of inadvertent manual mistakes in the process. Where this improvement in documentation efficiency can really be felt is with large-scale projects where so many documents might be considered more like “works in progress” as they make their way back and forth between the field and back office.
#4 Protect documents by controlling file permissions
Naturally, there might be a concern over just how much access is granted with cloud-based construction document management. That’s actually up to you.
Because data and documents are considered to be major construction project assets, protecting them against unauthorized modification and deletion — as well as theft, corruption and hacking — is a must. How do you do this? By regulating access. The software should have robust security features that give you control over who is granted access and how much. General contractors, accountants and craftspeople each will have varying degrees of access to different information based on the needs of their specific job roles. Permission-based controls allow you to define viewing and modification rights by job role, department or individual (though the latter will be quite a bit more tedious given how many people work on capital projects).
This gives some peace of mind that there won’t be universal unfettered access to sensitive financial documents or confidential project data. And those same permission-based controls can be used to protect documents once a project has been archived.
Implementing construction document management as a preventive measure
Do some of the above challenges with managing project documents sound familiar? If so, you’re certainly not alone. Companies just like yours have been implementing construction document management platforms like InEight Document. Such a platform helps streamline previously inefficient and frustrating processes so you can spend more of your time managing the project rather than documents. When you’re ready, we’re here to show you a demo.