When managing construction, you will face many documents that must be stored, organized, and controlled. Everything that has to do with designing, building, and delivering projects is driven by construction document management, from construction drawings to licensing and permits, billing, bidding, reporting, and scheduling. Keeping up with a lot of paperwork requires unwavering commitment and improved skills. As a result, you must ensure that your document control system includes keeping track of and organizing everything to ensure everything runs as smoothly and seamlessly as possible.
With mounds of documents and paperwork, if you are not organized, you need something but cannot find it. Things get less organized as projects grow and more people are added to the team. This chaos could be prevented when records are kept on paper and digital devices, in the office and out in the field, and can be easily accessible by clients and workers.
So, how do you solve one of the ordinary and costly challenges in construction project management?
The answer is simple, but it might be challenging. You need to create an efficient and effective construction document control system that allows you to keep track of building documents well. But before you can do that, let’s get into the basics.
What is Construction Document Management and Control?
Simply put, construction document management and control means having a centralized place where all the information regarding your projects can be stored and organized. Keeping track of the building process is complex and time-consuming, partly because many documents must be maintained. You need to create a system that ensures all papers are kept safe, organized correctly, and easy for everyone working on the construction project to find.
There are many different options for managing your documents. Some companies may prefer to store their files on physical media, such as folders and file cabinets, while others use digital solutions, like construction management software.
The Importance of Efficiently Managing and Controlling Your Documents
A well-executed document control system can significantly impact the competitive construction business. This allows project managers to monitor every part of the project. Structured documentation removes the chaos of unorganized paperwork and lowers the chance of losing important information. Not only that, but moving from paper-based documentation to a centralized digital documentation system will make your building business much more efficient and positively affect your bottom line.
Yes, spending money on a digital centralized system may seem daunting initially, but the benefits outweigh the cost. Because construction projects are getting more complicated and rules are getting stricter, it is clear that building document management can make or break your project’s success and your company’s profitability.
This section examines the benefits of an efficient and effective construction document control system.
Reliable Source of Data
By implementing an efficient document management system, you can give all your construction teams a single and actual reference point. With this, it is much easier to track and ensure the data it holds is correct and reliable. This also eliminates the chance of mistakes that could be better for your project.
Lack of communication is one of the reasons for problems and delays in the building process. Even though it has a significant effect, it is necessary that proper contact channels are set up and kept up. You can imagine the amount of damage and risks that can happen to a building project when workers on-site do not have the appropriate paperwork and contractors and on-site workers disagree on what to do. People think everyone knows what to do when they don’t. There is a very high chance of delays, stoppages, and cost overruns, and that chance grows as a project goes on. Having a centralized system in place can help eliminate these risks.
See Progress Easily
The construction industry is highly volatile and prone to delays. It is rare for construction projects to be finished on time and at the right price. Many external factors cannot be controlled and can create problems that hinder your project’s quality or timely completion. For example, project managers and planners cannot plan for changes in the weather, delivery delays, changes in the cost of materials, changes in human resources, car breakdowns, and accidents at work.
However, construction document management software can make things much more predictable and under your control. A bird’s eye view of your project’s progress and how it is going can help you prepare for any scenario.
Better Quality Control
When working on a construction job, maintaining high quality is very important. This is more than just following a set of guidelines or rules from the local government. It is also about delivering the quality, scope, and schedule you agreed to with the client and your stakeholders. It is equally important that you meet customer expectations and maintain your company’s image. Important information can get lost, misused, or misunderstood when you need to handle your documents better, affecting quality control.
There are a lot of risks in the construction business, from safety issues to labor shortages and productivity risks. Project information must be correct and current for a risk management system. Using construction management tools can help you get this information. By combining real-time data and making all project papers easy to find, project managers can find and evaluate possible risks early on, develop good ways to lower them, and keep the project safe, profitable, and on schedule.
Common Challenges When You Do Not Organize and Control Your Documents Effectively
People in charge of projects used to keep track of everything with pen and paper or simple tools. These methods may have worked in the past, but they are slow and often inaccurate. Any job that involves making papers can be done more efficiently with today’s project management tools.
In this section, let us look at the common challenges when handling your documents.
Different Document Versions
When construction managers use paper documents, they often cannot tell which version they are looking at. You may be looking at a version that did not reflect the changes someone made a while ago. It can be hard to find out if a paper has been changed or if there is a newer version with more information, resulting in inefficiency.
Paper paperwork is complicated because it is only sometimes available when and where needed. If a construction worker needs to look at a drawing or financial record to solve an emergency, they must stop working until they can get to the company offices and get the papers. Online-based software can help eliminate this by allowing your team to view files with just a few simple clicks, whether in the office or the field. Direct access to all the information on the job site can help your team solve problems quickly without compromising productivity.
No doubt, project managers often spend a lot of time, money, and effort managing documents when using printed ones. It takes a lot of time to do everything, from searching for them to retrieving and disseminating them. Making, storing, and keeping track of paper records can be challenging, especially when doing things that depend on each other, like construction work. Taking advantage of construction software can help you automate some of the processes and allow you to focus more on the critical parts of the project.
When paper documents are used, human mistakes are highly likely. People will always make mistakes, whether it’s wrong data or missing records. Some errors will not affect the job, but others can be terrible.
Significant Cost and Time Impact
Finding and fixing mistakes wastes a lot of time and money. That means more work and materials, which means more money, time, and the dreaded cost overruns. Access to the correct real-time information can help reduce these types of mistakes.
If there is not enough documentation and an error happens, it can lead to lawsuits and long arguments. Regarding lawsuits, construction is one of the most dangerous jobs. Keep in mind that cases can cost you more than just money. They can also hurt your image, make clients not want to work with you, slow you down, and even end projects in the middle.
Tips for Efficient and Effective Document Control in Construction
At first, construction document control might seem daunting and complicated. However, once you have fully integrated it into your system, you can reap its many benefits and ensure the success of each project. In this section, let us look at the best strategies for setting up processes that can help you manage your documents better.
Get the Right People to Manage The System
As part of changing the culture to improve document control, it is essential for every worker to feel like they have the power to make document management work. As a result, you need a key person who can make changes and keep an eye on things. This person can fix possible problems, set up templates, and keep workflows going.
Review Your Current System
If you think your method for keeping track of construction documents is muscular, take a second look and see which areas you can improve. This way, it will not shock your team when you try to implement new things.
Utilize Construction Technology
A construction document control system that keeps all your papers in one place is essential. When choosing software, ask yourself if it meets the above requirements. Once you have the correct method that meets your needs, standardization should be your goal. As you get everyone on board, this process may take longer than planned, but it will be well worth having everyone on the project and in the company using the same method and templates.
Set Up A Centralized System
The most important thing about construction document control is that it creates a single point of truth. If your staff needs the most up-to-date set of papers, you can be sure they can access the correct information in your system. No one has to guess the changes because everyone can see them. You can still get too old documents, but it is easy to tell what is new and what is old.
Consistently Strive For Learning and improvement
Based on your company and people, your system needs to be maintained and improved over time. Instead of getting a perfect answer right away, your goal should be to keep getting better. Check-in on your present document control system occasionally and listen to your team if they have any feedback or insights.