Ending the Paper Chase:
Digitalizing Your Construction Completions Now
March 29, 2022
Construction projects are huge efforts of design, permitting, material management, labor, specialty work and commissioning all of which produce many forms of required documentation through each phase of the project. Every document is meant to reduce risk throughout the process for each of the players participating in the project such as owners, contractors, subcontractors, designers, engineers and material suppliers.
So, when the project ends, how do owners ultimately know that they have received all of the documentation artifacts that were produced during the project’s life cycle? Let’s take a look at the construction completions process and how you can better manage your proof of completion for your projects.
The Traditional Paper Chase
It is not uncommon for owners to get a large dump of documentation. This can often mean boxes of paperwork at the end of a project from each of the different parties. The problem? Doing things this way requires a high level of effort from document control to sort through and confirm that they have received everything. With the pressure from the contractor to close out a project, owners need to add more resources to confirm they have all the documentation, or the project gets closed out with the risk that the documentation is incomplete.
For the contractor, the project can’t be deemed complete until all of the documentation — artifacts that prove the work was completed as per requirements — are transmitted to the client. It is not uncommon for projects to bring in more administrative staff at the end of the project to work through collecting the paperwork to transmit to the client. If the contractor didn’t collect the documentation from each operation, finding the paperwork at the end could be quite the chore. It can leave you asking:
- Is there more documentation in a foreman’s desk who is now off project?
- Where did the early crews store their documentation? Did it make it into turnover binders?
- Are the admins that collect the artifacts at the project end confident they have all the documentation?
A New Focus on Digital Execution for Construction Completions
Modern construction projects can easily solve these problems with the use of several tools that focus on a digital execution rather than paper-based inventory.
The first steps to a successful turnover is a plan for documentation prior to the project start. Understanding what documents will be received, produced, require mark ups or other workflow and need to be transmitted at the end of the project need to be part of the plan. This includes what metadata needs to be included on it for documents in process or to organize the turnover. With a plan in hand, every document and drawing can be measured and inventoried as it goes through its life cycle for easy reporting and handover.
Having a clear inventory that can be reported against and actualized is also beneficial to understanding and proving that all documentation has gone through its life cycle per the quality plan and is complete and ready for transmittal. Using document management tools that allow this process to be digital —instead of on paper tucked away in binders — gives project teams the confidence in transmitting all the documentation. The following are four areas where today’s best tools can help.
Closing out work packages when the work is completed. Ensuring all documentation has been electronically filed in the correct location, with mark-ups verified to the work in the field and the appropriate metadata filled out and updated. If the construction completions or commissioning process has produced field run drawings, management of change documents or checklist artifacts, these documents need to get uploaded to the document control system as part of closing out the work packages.
Creating a planned inventory of checklists. This should be done for every item that is being constructed or commissioned on the project. Such an inventory will reflect the checklists called out in the quality plan, and as the checklists are completed in the field, they can be actualized through reporting to prove that the work has been completed and verified through inspections. This inventory of checklists will also provide a clear goal to the construction completions or turnover team concerning both the contractor and client as to what artifacts should be expected to be transmitted to the client at the end of the project. But why wait until the end of the project to transmit the documentation?
Having a progressive turnover of work. As owners accept scopes of work completed by contractors or the commissioning team incrementally, the documentation for those accepted scopes can be transmitted. This is made easy by the flood of metadata that is associated to the different documents and artifacts as per the original plan. Documents can quickly be gathered by type, work-package, location, system, discipline or subcontractor. With data connected through multiple tools, it is easy for projects to gather the information for accepted work almost instantaneously and package it for transmittal.
Providing the right reports. Reports on the documentation that provide business insights to total number of documents, documents completed, documents transmitted and management of change via sending revisions of documentation is all made easier by having a clear plan in a digital ecosystem.
A Clear Solution for the Future of Construction Completions
When your documentation process has a clear plan, great things can happen. With metadata points to capture information, digital workflows that structure the processes ensuring completeness, and a planned inventory of checklist artifacts that get completed as work is completed, you can significantly increase your project’s confidence level toward proving construction completion at turnover.
In a broader sense, when documentation is sent and received progressively, it can successfully level administrative resources for all participating parties, significantly reducing the number of clerks needed at project-end. At the end of the day, proving complete transmission of all documents is made easier throughout the project life cycle, helping everyone’s bottom line.
Ready to take a deeper dive? InEight can help get your projects where they need to go and help you create a solution that matches your needs while leveraging your teams’ existing strengths. Let us show you how.