Beyond Filing: What You Can Do with Construction Document Management Software
December 21, 2021
Construction document management might be perceived, or even dismissed, as nothing more than a fancy term for “filing paperwork.” But there’s actually so much more to it — and the software that supports it — that may be overlooked.
The truth is, many construction companies could probably use an overhaul of their document management systems, especially as projects continue producing growing volumes of data. Some use a combination of paper and digital files. Others rely on generic business software, legacy systems or a blend of applications that fall short in delivering the functionality that could most effectively manage the needs that are unique to construction projects. It’s promising that there’s a recognition of the value of going digital. And construction document management software in particular allows you to do a lot more with your documents than simply file them.
Enable easier viewing of construction-specific file formats
Think of what goes into creating the system necessary to manage the different kinds of files of capital project files. There’s traditional business software for storing and accessing the universal file types, from Microsoft Word® documents and Microsoft Excel® spreadsheets to PDF files. Perhaps there’s a reliance on Google Drive or Dropbox accounts to store and share documents.
None of these is exactly compatible for viewing and managing structure-related documents, especially the CAD or model files containing vector images and their data. For those, separate software licenses native to the file formats that support them may be part of that system. It adds up to an unnecessarily complex approach to construction document management, with tedious bouncing from one platform to another searching for and maintaining files.
But what about the project team members who aren’t covered under those licenses or who otherwise don’t have the software? How do they — especially the site crews in the field — get timely, unencumbered access to these files without phone calls or trips to and from the job trailer? By leveraging the capabilities of cloud-based construction document management software. It goes beyond what traditional software offers, recognizing and supporting all construction-specific file types. Doubling as a single source of truth, the software consolidates all project files in one digital location, which can even be accessible out on the job site if it’s a cloud-based solution.
Link related documents with each other with construction document management
To the average person, the seemingly unrelated connections among countless documents such as contracts, designs, change orders, quality assurance checklists, photos and inspection reports won’t make much sense. But those in construction understand these individual documents don’t function as islands of information. Just as the physical structure itself comes together over the course of the build, so too must its documentation.
Industry-specific documentation software is designed to manage all the associations and dependencies: contracts ushered through a review and approval process; change orders created from RFIs, which themselves are defined by a question-and-answer clarification process; photos attached to inspection as evidence of defects to repair. The software knows what each type of documentation requires, from workflow to distribution to searchability to reporting and so on.
Ultimately, having these linked relationships front and center not only reduces data entry redundancy and wasted time hunting for supporting documentation, it provides context for better collaboration among project team members and therefore improved decision making.
Assign security parameters to protect data with construction document management
Moving 2D files to digital format automatically removes some of the security risks associated with physical materials, including misplacement, theft and damage from weather, fire or flood. But security measures don’t, and shouldn’t, stop there.
Data is one of the most important construction assets. And given the vast amount produced by capital projects, it becomes a business imperative to protect that data by restricting access to critical documents. After all, not every document is meant to be universally accessed, viewed or modified. Robust construction document management software affords this level of control through various security capabilities. For example, to limit access to contracts, permission-based rules based on user type can be implemented to limit who has view-only or modification authorization. Drawings can be secured with password protection to prevent unauthorized access and markup. Sensitive information like personnel records could require dual authentication. But it’s not just about internal access. Encryption capabilities have become more sophisticated, making it nearly impossible for external entities to hack or corrupt sensitive data.
Digitally consolidate all documentation into a single handover package
Before ground is even broken, a typical capital project has already amassed a substantial amount of documentation. So, imagine getting to the project’s end and having to corral it all from that point forward into one package to hand over to the client.
Remember that single source of truth mentioned earlier? Throughout the construction life cycle, all documentation has been gathered and stored there within the construction document management software. This ongoing process not only ensures up-to-date, accurate data, it reduces the risk of critical information being overlooked or incomplete — including compliance reporting, commissioning results, and inspection reports, for example. What has historically been a labor-intensive, time-consuming effort taking weeks — and a lot of cooperation from contractors, craftspeople and other stakeholders — can be done digitally with a few clicks.
If you’re interested in exploring a new approach to document management, one that is uniquely designed for construction projects rather than business at large, look at a solution like InEight Document. It introduces efficiency to the time and effort it takes to manage all the data and documents associated with your capital projects. Find out how it can streamline your construction document management by requesting a demo.