Mitigate Risks with
By David Wagner
September 08, 2020
The struggle is real: Filing cabinets overstuffed with everything from contracts to work orders to project drawings. Emails, some with necessary project-related attachments, sent to only a few project team members or hidden in the inbox of a college who left the project months ago. Different versions of the same file stored on different computers, in multiple formats. Change orders, RFI’s and Submittals not communicated to the impacted teams. The finance team unable to find negotiation notes for project contracts. Inordinate amounts of time spent looking for a document, unsure if it’s the latest version once found.
These signs of poor document control are hard to ignore. But their resulting risks could prove to be detrimental to the project and ultimately to the construction company:
- Costly rework resulting from an outdated document or missed change order
- Lost productivity, whether from hunting for paperwork, recreating documents or fixing work mistakes
- Schedule overruns that threaten to throw off other parts of the project
- Blown budgets that can overshoot the contract value
- Tougher time responding to litigation or audit demands, potentially resulting in stiff fines or lawsuits if unable to produce supporting documentation
- Compromised relationships between contractors and clients
- Damaged reputation, which may be challenging to recover from
A critical first step at document control and risk mitigation is housing everything in cloud-based construction software. Why cloud-based? Because you can virtually store documents so they’re accessible by anyone, from anywhere, from any device. It bypasses the risks of housing documents spread across many different siloed systems, where files can become corrupted, lost or misplaced (another risk). This would serve as a single source of document truth where all project documents are centralized.
This single source of truth isn’t meant to be a mere dumping ground for digitized documents. In that case, you’d just be trading one type of document mayhem for another. To keep it from becoming unwieldy and generating its own set of risks, it has to be logically organized and effectively managed. It requires creating a structure with a filing hierarchy of folders and subfolders, standardizing file naming, instituting version control and defining who gets to access each type of document. These tasks are important enough to designate a document coordinator to oversee this process and maintain it throughout the project.
All this prep work might make all those crammed filing cabinets and piles of paperwork not look so bad. But go back to the resulting risks when there’s no clear way to manage all the documentation that goes into a construction project. Adopting the right construction software will certainly go a long way toward streamlining the document control process.
It doesn’t stop there; it’ll require everyone understanding how to use the software effectively to get the most benefit from it. Think of the number of times any given document — whether a drawing, contract, photo — has to be accessed throughout a build. Or how often contractors, workers and clients have to communicate with each other in a way that is trackable. All the change orders, RFIs and Submittals that need to get to the right team to carry out. The critical decisions that rely on documents or data being up to date.
Construction software creates a virtual paper trail and means of centralized communication that enhance visibility, accountability and collaboration for everyone involved. And the risk mitigation benefits of single source of truth document control begin to fall into place:
- Errors from human entry are reduced
- Less time wasted searching for files, emails and data that normally cost many hours’ or days’ worth of work
- Time saved not having to recreate a document that never could be found
- Instant updates that can be pushed out to designated recipients so there’s no risk of missed communication
- Decreased chance of expensive rework involving more labor and materials
- Automatic file saving and backup via the cloud
- No more duplicated efforts with the ability to upload photos and other items directly from a mobile device in the field, rather than having to go to the office to then upload it to another system
- Real-time access to necessary documents from anywhere, any device, including mobile devices and smartphones out in the field where they are needed most
- No risk of lost, damaged/corrupt or stolen files
- More easily respond to a regulatory/compliance audit or litigation with a more user-intuitive file storage and organization structure
- Complete audit trail of exactly who did what and when they did it.
- And of course, with all this, productivity goes up
All this translates into more adherence to the established project schedule and budget. But there’s more to implementing a robust construction software solution as a single source of truth than just truly effective document management. There’s better communication and collaboration. Peace of mind. Confidence in the reliability of the project information it holds.
These are what you get with InEight’s document control solutions. Created specifically for the construction industry — and with user-friendliness in mind — owners, contractors and project teams alike can share files, access the latest document updates, locate and refer to documentation at a moment’s notice, and make better decisions knowing the most current information is in hand.