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Avoid Project Chaos Through Better Document Control

 

Originally aired on 12/12/2019

11 Minutes

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What’s an easy way to create project chaos? Establish an environment where members of the extended project team are using out-of-date project documents. This can lead to increased rework, communication breakdowns and even litigation. Let’s not forget schedule delays and increased costs. 

In this webinar, InEight Product Manager Antonio Sanchez offers tips on ensuring your team always has the most current project documents, wherever work takes them. You’ll learn strategies around: 

  • Employing a single source of document truth 
  • Maintaining a complete list of project team members and their emails 
  • Proactively notifying document controllers of revised documents 
  • Ensuring project documentation is accessible from the office, trailer and site

Transcript

 

John Klobucar:

Hello! I’m John Klobucar with InEight and I’d like to welcome you to the latest webinar in our document management series. This webinar is titled Avoid Project Chaos Through Better Document Control. Our presenter today is Tony Sanchez, who is a product manager for InEight’s document management solution.

John Klobucar:

In his role, Tony works with customers to understand the requirements and business processes. He then works with the product owner to help drive solutions in the product roadmap based on the client’s feedback. Previous to InEight, Tony worked with Kiewit Power where he gained valuable field and technology implementation experience to help them understand what users want in a document control solution.

John Klobucar:

Now, if you have any questions as you watch this webinar, please email them to webinars@ineight.com. Once again, that’s webinars@ineight.com, and Tony will do his best to answer them. Also, this presentation is being recorded and we’ll be sending you a link to the video in about a week’s time. Once again, we’re glad you’ve joined us. And now let me introduce Tony Sanchez.

Tony Sanchez:

Thanks John. Hello everyone. Today I’ll be presenting on how to avoid chaos through better document control. During the presentation, we’ll go over how to employ a single source of document truth, how to maintain a complete contact list of project team members to alleviate confusion down the road, the importance of being proactive in notifying document controllers of revised project documents, how to distribute documents as hyperlinks instead of attachments, and why a historical log against project documents have been official, and finally, how to make sure everyone has access to project documentation from the office, the job site, or anywhere in-between.

Tony Sanchez:

Before I jump into the presentation, I want to bring your attention to how document control is usually perceived and how document control is a lot like Wi-Fi in more ways than one. Any guesses?

Tony Sanchez:

The reason being when it’s working, nobody really notices, but if it’s not working properly, people become suddenly aware that it is broken. Another similarity is proper document control is championed by a few experts with most of the project team benefiting in the Wi-Fi scenario. A few IT personnel know how to set it up, et cetera, but everybody benefits from the Wi-Fi working, similar to document control.

Tony Sanchez:

As we have all noticed projects are producing more and more data. Organizations are doing their best to keep up by investing in document control solutions that will manage that data. The issue is that often more technology brings even more complexities and does not necessarily equate to more solutions. So, why would we put so much effort into having a single source of the document truth?

Tony Sanchez:

The answer sometimes can be because concrete piles are expensive. What does that mean? Well, in this real world example a foundation piling plan was revised based on a new load information, and although the subcontractor had access to a cloud-based document control system, they chose to download the documents and upload them into their familiar system, which was SharePoint in this case. The issue with doing that is that unless someone is responsible for ensuring that their library’s in sync with the document control system or record, there will be documents that are missed. The revised piling plan was not uploaded to their library and piles were unfortunately placed in the wrong location.

Tony Sanchez:

A single source of the truth eliminates confusion amongst users. They no longer have to go to a system A for engineering deliverables and system B for vendor deliverables. They log into a single system and will be confident that they’re looking at the latest and greatest documents available. Having a single system also promotes collaboration between project owners, the contractor and suppliers. When requests for information, formal correspondence and document reviews can all be managed within a single document control solution, we eliminate side spreadsheets to keep track of things like that, which brings us to the next benefit: reducing and hopefully eliminating unnecessary duplication of effort.

Tony Sanchez:

In the previous example, a user would have to download all the documents from one system and upload into another system – a clear duplication of effort and inefficient use of that person’s time. Finally, every project is initiated to provide value mostly as a result of their profit. We mentioned piles being installed in the wrong location. The thing is there’s no cost efficient way to remove a concrete pile that’s 60 feet deep. That piling subcontractor ended up costing themselves over $70,000 in rework all because they tried to maintain two sources of the truth.

Tony Sanchez:

Next, we’ll look at why it’s so crucial to have a complete list of who is on the project. Projects are becoming larger and distributed across countries and time zones. Document controllers are responsible for getting the right information to the right people, and that all begins with knowing who’s on the project in the first place. With different offices, promotions, turnover, et cetera, the project team will be in constant flux and that is why it’s so crucial to have a project directory showing who’s on the project, what company they’re with, and what type of access they’ve been granted to the system.

Tony Sanchez:

Ideally, distribution groups are utilized to disperse information similarly or potentially integrated with familiar tools like Microsoft Outlook. Also, think about leveraging users roles that would allow a project administrator to change item and mass, based on roles instead of individual users. For example, if another document controller is added on a large project, they can be added one time to a role, instead of individually to all the tasks, all the workflows that they would be performing.

Tony Sanchez:

Let’s now go over why it is so important to know when there have been revised documents. A side note for document controllers, they are the maestros that attempt to orchestrate the chaos on the project and they are the auditors who try to eliminate the picture on the right from happening. They’re champions of the reliable information who pride themselves on attention to details. And since they’re tasked with ensuring information is distributed to the right people on the project, they must have the most up-to-date information that is available. Anytime an action is required, there should be a notification that nudges the users and, at times, those document controllers in the right direction. With RFIs and NCRs usually being time-bound processes, their users affected must know any changes immediately. Additionally, if work packages are centrally distributed, the document controllers would need to communicate those changes to ensure that the work pack owners know that their scope may be affected by those revised documents.

Tony Sanchez:

Next we’ll look at why we should distribute items as hyperlinks instead of including them as attachments. Hyperlinks can embed another level of security that most attachments can’t, while the security restriction on projects will vary depending on the contract or industry, it is best practice to keep project documentation as protected as possible. Sharing items of your links also provides the additional benefits of reducing the limitations on size and quantity that large files sent as attachments bring.

Tony Sanchez:

If you have ever attached multiple large files in an email, you probably received a notification from the recipient’s mailbox saying that the limit was exceeded and you’ll have to try and send it in five different emails instead of just one. Sending links allows the users to quickly select what items are being distributed, so for example, a PDF for anyone needing to review it, or the native file format for anyone collaborating on that item or that document. Overall, links are a lot more user-friendly and won’t fill up the recipient’s email storage.

Tony Sanchez:

History is important and that includes projects. If there are any the issues involving information distribution, you should have an easy way to audit what happened during the life of the project. Having a thorough history of what items were provided on what date to which users, provides the team with ease of mind if it ever comes to a litigation, or if that’s ever required. Reporting on this history can also eliminate a lot of the effort that in the past included looking through a bunch of project mailboxes, or even chasing down people who have already moved on to the next project. Knowledge is power and having it readily available can be a huge to the project team when it comes to defending themselves.

Tony Sanchez:

Lastly, and the most obvious way to eliminate chaos on the project, is making sure that all that information is readily available to your users whether at the office, at the job site, on a plane, et cetera. You just want to get to their information fast. They don’t want to have to maneuver through firewalls, multiple logins. Your solution should require two things: a connection to the Internet and their credentials. That’s it. They should also have the ability to download any information they’re going to need in places where they may or may not have the luxury of having a strong Internet connection; so think about infrastructure projects, transmission and delivery projects that span long distances and may go into remote locations. And even when you’re getting to those remote locations, those regional airplanes usually don’t have Wi-Fi, so you want to make sure that your users have the ability to download those documents for offline use.

Tony Sanchez:

When they reach that Internet connection again, they should be confident that the system will refresh anything that it may have missed while offline automatically. Ultimately, the solution your project selects to manage their document control should provide the project team with an easy to use collaboration tool that doesn’t overwhelm or repel your project team. InEight Document is a cloud-based system that has been proven across various industries. We pride ourselves in having a reliable product that can be utilized on a small infrastructure project and has the ability to scale up to a mega project in the oil, gas, and chemistry industry.

Tony Sanchez:

Our product has industry experience behind it and aims to alleviate the chaos that is inevitable on most projects. If you’d like to learn more about InEight Document and how it can alleviate that chaos, please visit us at ineight.com. Thanks for your time, and thanks John, back to you.

John Klobucar:

Thanks Tony. Again, if you have any questions, please email them to webinars@ineight.com. To learn more about InEight, as well as our document management solutions, visit ineight.com and click on the request a demo button. And if you’d like to see a schedule of upcoming webinars, visit ineight.com/webinars. Thank you for watching. This concludes our presentation.