Should my company switch to a cloud-based document management system?
February 16, 2021
More and more information is being stored and managed in the cloud. This virtual storage cabinet can house, organize and allow easy access documents at anytime, anywhere with an internet connection. As convenient and secure as the cloud is, though, when it comes to document management within construction companies, its use is still uncommon but definitely trending upward.
If you’re exploring how best to transition from an on-premise software platform to a cloud-based document management system, here are some tips on how to know if moving to the cloud is right for your construction business and some benefits you might gain in the process.
Common challenges prompting a cloud-based document management solution
- Lost files. Are blueprints and change orders getting lost, misfiled, or stuck on someone’s computer desktop, creating mini delays in the overall schedule? Those “search-and-rescue” hours add up. Tallied up over the months or years you spend on just one large capital or public works project, that’s a lot of lost productivity you can’t get back.
- Naming formats. Are you using computer-based files without a consistent naming structure? It can become an endless guessing game for project team members looking for documents where naming conventions aren’t clear — or were never established at the project’s outset — leading stakeholders down data rabbit holes. A cloud-based system lets you search by file name or by content, which can save precious time and reduce frustration levels.
- Correct versioning. Is there uncertainty about which version is the latest and if it includes all the necessary edits? This often goes hand-in-hand with inconsistent file naming. Operating from an outdated file can lead to confusion at best, and costly rework at worst.
- Permissions. Is there a lack of control over who has access to sensitive documents? Not every team member needs full access, after all. Some may just need viewing abilities while others may need editing permissions. For example, you wouldn’t normally want unfettered access to company financials, human resource data, or project documents. Therefore, being able to create a permission-based rule that adds a layer of security and control over your company and project information might make a lot of sense.
- Field team access. Has the field team experienced limitations in being able to retrieve or upload information? Maybe they need access to documents that aren’t available from the job site, but rather housed at the back office, or they need documents too large to share. Give thought to a mobile access options that allow craftspeople to get what they need when they most need it — and keep tasks running according to schedule.
- Manual documentation. Do you tend to work on infrastructure, public works or other large-scale projects? Then you’re no doubt familiar with the endless amounts of documentation to continually track. Doing this manually can take a dizzying amount of effort without a system that optimizes documentation efficiency and reduces processing time.
- Legacy systems. Are you using a legacy system? By today’s standards, most of these systems are missing at least some of the critical functionality that improves efficiency in how projects are managed. Also consider how much longer updates and upgrades will be available for your current system.
Benefits you stand to gain in the cloud
- All data is contained in a single source of project truth where all team members can go for all document-related tasks. No more documents residing in far-flung office locations, for example, that not everyone can get to.
- Cloud storage enables everyone easy access (with appropriate permissions) to project files and communications from wherever they are and from any device with an internet connection.
- All changes are logged per user so it’s easier to determine who made what change, when and where for streamlined workflow tracking. In the event of a dispute or audit down the road, this level of tracking can provide the verification you need.
- Changes, comments and new document uploads can be communicated in real time with select team members who need it.
- Collaboration is improved from everyone having access to and referring to the same documents.
- More security in the form of permission-based access, as well as backups and recovery.
- Added data mobility via multiple electronic devices in the office and out in the field.
For your particular company, the decision may not be entirely based on these exact questions or quantifiable measures. It may come down more to what value is placed on potentially having less stress and fewer document-related headaches, a lot more peace of mind, and what that would ultimately mean for the project manager, the contractor or the client. These are things you can’t put a price tag on quite so easily, but that are still highly valued.
This is why InEight Document was created. Designed by seasoned construction professionals who know firsthand the challenges you face every day, this cloud-based document management software streamlines the way you process the documents and data your projects rely on to stay on schedule and within budget. Request a demo to find out how InEight Document can help your construction business.