The sheer volume of paperwork and documentation generated by construction projects can be daunting for even the most experienced builders. Managing it all in an effective manner is essential to keeping any project on track.
It’s ironic that so much precision goes into assembling a structure, but the same level of detail hasn’t always been applied to assembling a corresponding document management system. This lack of foresight has resulted in headaches for many people. Some problems come from an attachment to traditional paper-based documentation practices.
Though paperless approaches to construction document management are on the rise, construction companies can still rely on paper-based processes. This hybrid approach delivers some improvements, but doesn’t take full advantage of potential process efficiencies and cost savings that come with a fully digital system.
In this article, we explore six easy ways to manage common issues with document management, and how going digital can prevent them altogether:
1. Keep your document management system up to date
If you want to keep your digital document management system up to date, there are a few things you can do:
- Make sure that you have the latest version of the software installed
- Check for updates to the software regularly
- Keep your documents well organized
- Back up your documents frequently
- If you have any questions or concerns, contact your software provider for help
By following these simple tips, you can ensure that your digital document management system is always up to date.
2. Make sure all documents are properly labelled and categorized
No one can afford all the time wasted digging for what seems like a tiny needle in a very large document haystack — especially when the clock is ticking and you’re on a bidding deadline, responding to an audit or you have a time-sensitive decision to make out in the field. Centralizing all your documents into a single document management system is a logical place to start.
Contractors are increasingly utilizing cloud-based construction document management to make their lives easier. Anything from project photos to inspection reports to daily logs can be found in this online filing cabinet, which serves as a go-to source for accurate information. It’s important to note that merely digitizing and moving files to the cloud won’t permanently solve the issue of misplacing documents.
Although we are now working in a virtual environment, there still needs to be organization and consistency in terms of file structure. This is an opportunity to finally establish logical file names, versions, and a system of organization. In other words: it will be much easier for you and your team mates to locate the document you need without any frustration.
3. Use security features to protect confidential information
With cloud-based construction document management, you naturally might worry about how much access is granted. However, that decision is entirely up to you.
Project assets, such as data and documents, are crucial and require protection from unauthorized access and potential destruction. To prevent issues like theft, corruption or hacking, you should consider regulating access with software that has robust security features. By choosing a program with these security controls in place, you can determine who gets access to your project information and how much they are able to see.
Head contractors, accountants and tradespeople will each have access to different information based on their job roles. Permission-based controls let you define who can view and change what by job role, department or individual (although the latter will be more time-consuming given how many people work on capital projects).
Having permission-based controls helps ensure that not everyone will have access to confidential financial documents or sensitive project data. These same controls can also be used once a project has been archived.
4. Implement version control for all documents
There are many benefits to implementing version control for documents in a document management system. By doing so, you can ensure that all documents are kept up to date and that previous versions are always available if needed. Additionally, it can help prevent accidental overwrites or deletions of critical documents.
There are a few different ways to approach implementing version control for documents in a document management system. One option is to use a dedicated version control tool – these tools are designed specifically for managing code versions, but can also be used for managing document versions. Another option is to use a general-purpose file synchronization tool – these tools can be used to synchronize document versions across multiple computers or devices.
Finally, some document management systems include built-in version control features. If your document management system has this functionality, you can use it to manage document versions directly within the system.
5. Automate document-related processes whenever possible
Document management can be a time-consuming and tedious process, especially if you have to deal with a large number of documents on a regular basis. Luckily, there are ways to automate many of the document-related tasks in a document management system, which can save you considerable time and effort.
For example, you can use document management software to automate the document creation process. This can be done by setting up templates for commonly used documents, such as contracts, invoices, and so on. Once the template is created, you can simply fill in the relevant information and the software will generate the document for you.
Another way to automate document management is to use optical character recognition (OCR) to convert scanned documents into editable text files. This can be a huge time-saver if you have a lot of paper documents that need to be digitized. OCR can also be used to extract data from forms and other types of documents, which can then be imported into a database or spreadsheet for further analysis.
6. Train all employees on the proper use of the document management system
Document management systems are essential for businesses of all sizes. They help to keep track of important documents and make it easy to share them with employees. However, document management systems can be complex, and it is important that all employees receive training on how to use them properly. Here are some tips on how to train employees on the proper use of document management systems:
- Schedule training sessions: Make sure to schedule training sessions for employees so that they can learn about the document management system and how to use it.
- Create user manuals: User manuals are a great way to ensure that employees understand how to use the document management system. Make sure to create user manuals that are easy to understand and follow.
- Provide hands-on training: In addition to scheduled training sessions, provide employees with hands-on training so that they can get a feel for how the document management system works.
- Make sure employees understand the benefits: Employees should understand why the document management system is important and how it can benefit them.
If the above predicaments with handling project documents ring a bell, you’re in good company. Crowds of companies similar to yours have been utilizing construction document management platforms such as PlanRadar. Adopting such a platform helps simplify previously inefficient and exasperating processes so you can spend more time managing the project instead of scrambling after documents.