Construction companies are responsible for many things, including the safety of their workers and the structure’s future occupants, the correct material use and waste disposal, and the project’s environmental impact. They must also comply with strict government regulations and their clients’ specific requests and conditions. These complex and massive responsibilities require a comprehensive document management system to ensure all essential data is collected, stored securely and made accessible when needed.
Construction document management systems have significantly evolved since the dawn of the digital age. Computers and smartphones have replaced big drawers and cabinets, saving construction companies large sums of money on storage while increasing their data processing capacities. And in recent years, another huge leap was made to bridge the inadequacies of digitised document management systems, which involved software integration and cloud technology.
This article discusses the construction document management system, its challenges, and how the ever-evolving digital technology optimises it to make construction processes more data-driven.
Why is document management essential in construction?
The construction industry handles vast amounts of paperwork, including contracts, blueprints, change orders, permits, and inspection reports. A construction document management system enables construction companies to manage these documents efficiently, reducing the risk of lost or misplaced files, which leads to costly delays and errors.
Those using a more advanced option—construction document management software—can even facilitate collaboration among stakeholders. For instance, the software can be integrated with collaboration tools like BIM to smooth out further any communication barriers among construction professionals and decision-makers. It also enables team members to access the most up-to-date versions of documents, ensuring everyone is on the same page, preventing miscommunications, and reducing the likelihood of errors. In addition, it is a secure platform for sharing documents, so only authorized parties can access sensitive information.
A well-defined and data-driven construction digital document management system can also streamline the auditing process, which is critical in compliance and quality assurance. Auditors can use it to access accurate and complete documentation and ensure compliance with regulations and standards. In addition, it helps identify any issues immediately, reducing the time and effort required for audits. Overall, this tool can significantly improve efficiency, reduce errors, and ensure compliance with regulations.
What are the common challenges of construction document management?
Before data-driven tools like PlanRadar were introduced, construction companies struggled to manage their documents. Regulation changes and technological advances made it even more complex as documents had to be updated constantly, which posed risks of miscommunication and errors. Many other challenges made any manual or electronic documentation management system particularly hard to accomplish. Here are some of them.
Constantly changing versions of documents
Documents, such as plans, contracts, and specifications, tend to change throughout the project as all the unknowns unfold. Keeping track of these changes can be challenging, leading to confusion and mistakes.
Vulnerability to unauthorised access
Maintaining security and controlling access to sensitive information is critical in construction document management. Only authorised personnel must be allowed to access confidential documents, but most documents should be available to those who need them. Unfortunately, this isn’t easy to achieve with the limited capabilities of an outmoded document or file management system.
Difficulty storing and organising files
Managing a large volume of documents is another challenge in construction document management. Proper organisation and storage help prevent the loss, damage, or misplacement of essential documents.
Complex coordination process
Construction projects involve various parties and stakeholders, including owners, architects, engineers, contractors, and subcontractors. They all generate and require access to different documents. Coordinating the flow of information can be challenging, leading to delays and miscommunication.
Too many regulations to comply with
Compliance with numerous standards and regulations is a critical aspect of document management. Failing to comply with these regulations can lead to legal issues, project delays, and cost overruns.
How is digital technology optimizing document management?
After decades of testing and updating, construction document management software has evolved into the perfect data processing and storage tool. Even construction companies whose legacy systems are ingrained in their brands are beginning to embrace this new technology as it efficiently addresses all the limitations of traditional tools and methods. Here are some of the ways cloud based document management system for construction is transforming the way contractors do business.
Construction document management was traditionally done separately by each department, creating silos of information that often led to miscommunication or lengthy bureaucracy within the organisation. With construction project management software, document control, and access is much easier because all files are stored in one place. Centralisation of document storage eliminates the need for physical storage space and reduces the risk of document loss or misplacement.
It’s much harder for stakeholders to collaborate on resolving issues or reducing risks if documents are stored in various places. Construction project management software breaks this barrier and allows stakeholders to submit reports, share insights, and provide recommendations in real time. In addition, cloud-based systems like this make communication through any internet-enabled devices possible. In other words, key players in the construction project can access information critical to their decisions from any location.
Construction documentation and file management involve routine tasks, such as document routing and approval, which are time-consuming when performed manually. Construction project management software can help automate these tasks to reduce the time and effort required for document management. This frees up valuable resources for other critical aspects of the project, improving efficiency and productivity.
Unlike Google Sheets and MS Excel, construction project management software can track all changes made within a specific period to allow the latest user to pick up where the previous user left. This reduces confusion and mistakes caused by multiple versions of the same document. It can even be set up to eliminate old versions to guarantee users the version they use in analysis, and projections are the most relevant ones.
Document management is a critical aspect of a construction project. A well-defined, data-driven document management system ensures every team member understands the tasks, thereby maintaining worksite safety and complying with all construction regulations. This is now possible thanks to construction project management software, which optimises file collection, storage, sharing, and analysis.
Construction project management software also breaks the barriers of collaboration among stakeholders, enabling them to communicate better, access data in real time, and execute changes immediately. In addition, it offers tons of other features that streamline the entire construction project, saving the contractor a significant amount of time while ensuring high output quality and compliance with codes and regulations.