4 Common Challenges Facing Document Managers
By David Wagner
September 03, 2020
Document control supervisors and managers represent the first line of support for document integrity on large-scale projects. Not only are they charged with ensuring the most accurate and up-to-date documents are captured and accessible to relevant stakeholders when and where they need them, they’re also the ones who get called if something is missing or incorrect.
Unfortunately, managing documents on a complex project doesn’t come without challenges. Let’s take a look at some of the most common problems facing document control specialists in their day-to-day work – and a simple way to address them.
Challenge 1: Hide and seek
First up: information capture – a task that sounds deceptively simple but has a lot of moving parts. As a document control manager, you first need to establish a location where project documents can be stored and managed, and then set up a framework for their use. And because your core goal is to ensure the most accurate and up-to-date documents are the ones being accessed by users, it’s important to have a revisioning scheme in place.
Unfortunately, if you’re working in an organization where project documents are stored in disparate point systems, you’re in for some trouble. Rounding up relevant and up-to-date documentation from Sharepoint, Dropbox or a corporate FTP site – or worse, having to chase people for items that may be buried in their Outlook inboxes – does not make for an efficient or reliable document management protocol. And in the event you can’t find something after all this chasing, someone will need to spend the time recreating it, resulting in lost productivity and profit.
Once documents are finally located and stored, the next question is, can people find them? It’s not enough for the information to be accessible, it needs to be easy to search for and locate within the system; the more attributes associated with a given document, the easier this will be for the user. The problem is, if you have to sift through each document and type in the metadata manually, there will invariably be errors and you’ll spend a lot of time performing tedious admin work that could be better spent on high-priority tasks.
Fortunately, today’s most advanced software tools such as InEight Document can help you tackle all of these issues. First, it will allow you establish a single source of document truth where project stakeholders can access the most up-to-date version of the documents they seek – no more hunting and pecking for needed files. In addition, it will automate the process of scraping searchable metadata from documents so people can find them easily, saving you time and increasing the accuracy of search results for the user.
Challenge 2: Guarding the gate
Once the data is uploaded and available, your next challenge is, can crews access the necessary documents when and where they need them? If they need to trek back to the site trailer for critical documents every time they need them, it will result in considerable lost time over the lifespan of a project. Or maybe they’ll call you for the information, which is not the most efficient use of your time either.
And on the topic of access, how can you be sure not only that the individuals who need these documents are getting access to them, but also, that those who shouldn’t have access to critical documents don’t. The short answer is, you can’t if you don’t have reliable a way to establish user permissions. And if you’re working within disjointed point solutions, you won’t have a consistent means of managing permissions process across the project.
A good collaborative document management solution will help you police the security of every project document, and allow you to set customized user permissions to prevent unauthorized access to the confidential ones. It will also allow crews to access those documents from wherever work takes them, whether that’s in the field via tablet or in the trailer on a computer.
Challenge 3: Unhappy trails
Equally important, what happens if someone on the receiving end of a document claims they didn’t get it and takes the wrong action based on that? If you have no way of tracking who opened a document and when, your company may find itself in the midst of some costly litigation.
The ability to establish an audit trail for project documentation – one that shows unequivocally what user accessed a document, downloaded attachments and on exactly what time and date – can prove invaluable in such scenarios.
Modern-day document management tools such as InEight Document will allow you to do exactly that, providing the ability to track who accessed a given document, what they downloaded and exactly when they did so, heading off costly legal disputes before they happen.
Challenge 4: Handover chaos
So now the project’s over and you need to round up all of the documentation for handover. If you’re still performing this final compilation manually, prepare to invest significant time and resources.
Consider the sheer volume of documents sent and received across the lifespan of a major project. For instance, over just three years, one Australian infrastructure project accumulated enough emails, plans, drawings and other documents to build a 12-story tower*. Imagine what these numbers would look like over the life of a seven- or 10-year project. How could a single person manage all these manually without something slipping through the cracks?
Fortunately, with the aid of a single-source-of-truth document management solution, all relevant project documents will have been collected in a central repository since inception. Digital information will have been carried through the project seamlessly from phase to phase, making project handover and closeout a breeze, with no data loss and little manual effort required.
A simple solution
As we’ve seen, the role of a document control manager is not easy, and the challenges are many. Fortunately, there’s a single, easy-to-use solution available to address the common issues faced every day. The result? Increased efficiency, greater productivity, a reduction in risk, and a whole lot fewer phone calls and headaches.
To learn more about how InEight Document can help you solve your everyday challenges, or to schedule a free demo, visit InEight.com.
* Pacific Coast Highway case study