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There are two types of questions when it comes to document management: how-tos and why-tos. How can I improve my system? What software solutions are out there? Why is document management important in the first place? And if you already have a system, why do you need to change your current practices?

In order to determine whether you need a document management system, ask yourself the following questions and reflect on past experiences. If you can identify with any of the issues below, it might be time for an update.

1. Problems linking your files together

Construction documents are rarely standalone items. An RFI, for example, is usually in response to something. In the same way, edits made to designs during a project don’t just appear out of nowhere. They have to come from somewhere and they can often lead to more questions. How did a specific change order, RFI or document edit start? Where is the approval for a certain contract and who gave it? Are there any photos or videos that go with inspection checklists?

Linking files together allows you to show the relationships between documents, which can be helpful in understand the context behind each file. Document management software today makes it easy to connect and search for related files so that you can see how they are connected. This feature is also beneficial if you ever need to provide support during an audit.

2. Not being able to access or locate the right documents

You may not think that an hour wasted searching for one document is a lot, but when you consider that this happens dozens or hundreds of times throughout the course of a construction project, it starts to become a real problem. This time adds up quickly and becomes very costly- ultimately affecting the bottom line.

Although document management systems are mainly used to organize paperwork, many lack the cloud technology that allows for easy access to files from anywhere. If you find yourself in this situation, it likely means that critical files are not readily available to those who need them.

A cloud-based system is beneficial because it allows everyone on the project team to have access to information when they need it, without having to search through files or physically go to a filing cabinet. This saves time because everything is centralized in one virtual storage area that can be accessed from anywhere.

3. Trouble collaborating on the latest, most accurate documents

If this sounds familiar, it may be because you’re experiencing some of these inefficiencies yourself. For example, it might be taking too long to share documents with your project team, which is negatively impacting site crew productivity or jobsite decisions. Additionally, poor version control can lead to wasted time and effort if the site crews are referencing outdated documents.

In order to make capital projects more efficient and collaborative, updates and changes to documents must be reflected immediately in a cloud-based document management system. With real-time access and one place as the reliable single source of truth for all project files, you can increase levels of collaboration and efficiency.

4. Difficulty addressing internal or external audits

Have you ever been in the situation where you didn’t have evidence to support your claims during a compliance audit? Or have you had difficulty trying to retrace your steps to figure out where errors were made in your documentation? In many cases, this is due to a lack of version control.

Initially, it may not have been part of your business process to keep track of who accessed which documents and when. Additionally, the document management system you are using now might not have received adequate version control or tracking capability.

Today’s document management options allow you to automate many processes. This not only saves time when preparing for an external compliance audit, but also makes it easier to improve your internal auditing process. By controlling document access and modification (which can affect versioning), protecting file security, preventing legal disputes, and reducing the potential for rework, you can streamline your business operations significantly.

5. Experiencing document security issues

Although it’s crucial to have access to construction documents, it can be problematic if certain team members view financial or personnel records without permission, which could unintentionally impact the project schedule or budget. Additionally, there are those with malicious intent who try to gain access to sensitive information.

With more employees working remotely and an influx of temporary subcontractors, the likelihood that your sensitive documents will be accessed without your knowledge has increased. If you do not have a system in place to monitor access and protect against hackers, your business information is at risk of being compromised. A data breach can jeopardize your relationships with both the project owner and other partners involved in the project.

Nowadays, document management systems have dual authentication measures and role-based permissions that give you more control over access. Since data and documents are some of the most valuable assets on a construction project, having a system with these security controls is an essential risk management strategy for every contractor.

Is it time for a document management system refresh?

Not all document management systems are created equal, so be sure to do your homework before making any changes to your current system. Depending on the size and scope of your construction company, you may need a different system than another business in the same industry.

If you want to keep your construction projects running smoothly, then you need an effective software solution like PlanRadar to digitise your document management. Our software will help you control files and information that are critical to keeping everything organized. If you’re considering adopting this solution or upgrading your existing capabilities, we can show you how it works by scheduling a demo.