Getting the Most Out of
Cloud-Based Document Management
March 02, 2021
As more construction companies transition to cloud-based document management, using the cloud to its best advantage has come into focus. Though you may have created a secure, single source of document truth, you still need to make sure that you’re getting the most out of your cloud-based document management system across all phases of your projects, for all stakeholders. Understanding the “why” of document management in the cloud can help you be sure you’re making use of every feature and benefit it has to offer.
What are the main reasons for managing documents in the cloud?
- To establish a single data repository. With everything in the cloud, project team members across multiple disciplines can locate any document version at any time they need it. All those RFIs, blueprints, communications, edits, change orders, transmittals, estimates and more are available for viewing and editing — with nothing misplaced, lost or damaged. When everything you need is in one place, you gain back time that can instead be used for more productive tasks.
- To foster collaboration. Reach more team members by expanding access to those in the field and remote locations through simple WiFi connections for mobile access on any common device (smartphones, tablets, etc.). Need to meet to provide status updates, discuss an upcoming change, or address a critical issue? Some cloud-based systems feature virtual conferencing and screen sharing, saving travel time and expense while still enabling real-time collaboration from anywhere. Even without virtual workspaces, the real-time access to information makes decision-making timelier and more informed.
- To free up IT resources. As the perfect tool for a single source of project truth, the cloud can also make life easier for IT resources. By not having to tend to multi-departmental documents on servers, in-house IT pros can instead devote their time and expertise to keeping other business-critical technology running smoothly.
- To heighten security. Enhanced security measures in recent years have eased some of the uncertainty companies may have with the integrity of their files. Features like encryption, password protection, permission-based access, and authentication all help safeguard against corrupted or hacked files and keep documents from landing in the wrong hands. Not only that but moving files to the cloud eliminates the risk of physical file security being compromised, such as from theft or from damage due to weather, natural disasters or other property loss events.
- To save time, money and materials. In an industry as schedule dependent as construction is, anything that can trim time is welcome. Think about all the changes to blueprints, contracts or other documents that traditionally have to be made, then copied or printed, then sent to the job site or other location. With a few clicks of a button on any wireless device, that whole process can be completed start-to-finish in a fraction of the time. That means you skip the faxing and bypass the printing and delivering of duplicate files. You’ll also eliminate the expenses of printing, shipping and all those administrative hours to manually prepare everything.
- To streamline managing large projects. If your construction company typically works on massive, complicated projects — like government public works, infrastructure and commercial builds — storing and processing all related files in the cloud can actually simplify the management of all the documents and data, big and small, that such projects generate.
Make sure you’re taking advantage of every feature in your system
- Document organization, search and hierarchy. Searching becomes even easier with dynamic folders allowing you to go a level deeper than the standard folder trees in most systems. With dynamic folders, users can define entire populated folder hierarchies based purely on the attributes associated with each project item. Imagine in a single click being able to switch your folder view to show every document organized by discipline-status-file type, all within a folder tree customized to your specific organization.
- Security measures. Depending on the types of projects and files you work with, you may have specific document security needs. For example, you might decide on encryption capabilities such as: the ability to assign password protection to particular types of files such as contracts; dual authentication for downloading or sending sensitive information; or assigned permissions to access certain types of documents based on the type of user.
- Special features. Different solutions offer different features. In the more advanced systems, these can include: configurable workflows consistent with your own best practices; analytics that give you the insights you need to provide clear and actionable status reports for your teams; and effective distribution capabilities that allow free access to your most recent documents for the right people, at the right times.
Integrating document management via a single cloud-based document management system across your entire project life cycle can positively transform your team’s effectiveness and collaboration. It’s not just about saving time, space and money, it’s all the other capabilities that today’s systems provide.