Document management is a critical but challenging aspect of managing construction projects. Business transcription agencies can provide document survey reports, agreements, risk assessments, investigation summaries, agreements, risk assessment, and property details and inventories. Documents that need to be maintained to prove construction claims include bid documents, schedule data and devices, project diaries, change orders and logs, plans, specifications, drawings, project correspondence, job cost reports, and estimates financial statements, and employee payroll records.
Efficient, organized construction document management is critical for the following reasons:
- To avoid costly mistakes: Construction projects can involve from 100 to more than 1,000 drawings plus revisions to them as well as hundreds of different processes and procedure. According to Construct&Connect, a single mistake can have a cascading effect, leading to contractors using a wrong set of plans. This will cause costly mistakes in project execution.
- To manage notes for review: Notes and markups made have to be properly managed, that is, added to the appropriate files so that they can be reviewed and made available for those in the field.
- To avoid missing communications: Missed communications can lead to problems and put build schedules on hold. This can lead to obstacles to construction, discrepancies between plans and reality, etc. Construct&Connect reports on a study by Skanska which revealed that documentation which does not have the latest designs and specifications is the leading cause of rework.
- To manage large volumes of digital images: The growth of digital images, graphs, and photos has also led to new file management problems. These files have to be managed and made accessible to the right user at the right time.
- To provide document visibility for clients: Clients may want to see relevant documents, models, files, and reports.
Project management software and web-based platforms are available to help companies improve document control by allowing them to store files, monitor revisions, and streamline the review process. However, the human element is still involved when it comes to implementing document management best practices for contractors, architects and builders. Here are tips for effective document management in construction projects:
- Have a written document management policy: Written communications are important for managing construction projects. Good electronic record keeping is also crucial for litigation as lawyers may use these electronic documents as exhibits. A written policy is necessary to define how critical project documents will be managed. This includes correspondence, schedules, minutes of meetings, daily reports and logs, calendars, diaries, financial records, submittals, plans, and images etc. Text messages and email messages help define the position taken and create a record of the position taken. So written policies are also needed to manage emails, instant messages, blog trails, etc.
- Make documents and images accessible to authorized users: Documents are central to construction projects, which is why team members should have easy access to them. The field team must have access to the most current documents as well as photos and images at the beginning of the day. Creating a central repository can ensure that they have access to accurate and up-to-date versions of documents. A cloud-based system will allow authorized personnel access to the repository for viewing, making markups directly inside the plan, and sharing files. With the software, documents can be accessed via mobile phone, tablet, or desktop. Cloud-based, construction-specific file management makes it easy to document issues directly in the plan, and notify the right people promptly. This facilitates communication and ensures that the entire team (office and on-site) is working in real-time on the same issues and solutions. Providing easy access to all designs, statements, drawings, etc., will ensure that team members stay informed and on schedule. Construction management tools such as BIM 360 Field are designed to capture images and associate them with project checklists and issues quickly and easily, and make them searchable. This can support communication and planning.
- Create an organized file structure: This will ensure that people don’t waste time searching for documents. To build an organized file structure, use the default file locations when installing application programs, place all documents under a single root folder, and create folders in a logical hierarchy. Create sub-folders within the main folder for Contracts, Drawings, Daily Reports, Meeting Minutes, Submittals, Purchase Orders, Change Orders, Time Cards, Inspection Checklists, etc. Make sure that files are labeled with appropriate code numbers, dates, versions, and individuals editing. This is also useful for tracking revisions.
- Enable tracking revisions: Multiple versions of a document can arise during a construction project. Tracking document revisions is critical to eliminate confusion and avoid costly rework. When new versions of drawings are released, team members should be able to track changes, and view and understand any additions, deletions, and revisions.
- Create emails and notification alerts: Notifying team members of changes made to documents will save time that may be otherwise spent on constantly searching for updates. Emails and notification alerts will help the team keep track of all document updates and revisions even when they are busy working.
- Build and review audit trails: This is an important element in good document management. A visible audit trail logs changes to records that are updated, inserted and deleted. Reviewing the audit log allows users to view all documents, what the action was (added, deleted, revised), who performed the action, and when it was performed.
- Outsource transcription: Outsourcing transcription will ensure customized conversion of audio recording to text for property registration, real estate deals, construction notes, general office records, etc. Experienced digital transcription agencies have expert teams working with the latest technologies to deliver transcripts in quick turnaround time, allowing their clients to save time on creating documents from scratch.
In the construction industry, missing, inaccurate, or incomplete records can lead to wrong decisions. Proper document control practices improve efficiency, increase usability, minimize errors, and drive higher return on investment (ROI).