Construction work, no matter the size, is a complex process that includes massive data collection and analysis. Every piece of information gathered from day one is considered vital to the project and, therefore, must be stored, organised, and made available for future use.
As the project progresses, documents also pile up. Without a functioning construction document management system, these documents are at risk of being misplaced, misused, or thrown away, causing significant downtime and, worse, potential liabilities.
You might find it difficult to maintain all of your key documents and data if your company depends on a wide range of them. Implementing a digital document management system can assist with that.
A document management system is fundamentally any form of software that takes digital documents and saves, retrieves, shares, and organises them. At its greatest level, it enables you to efficiently accomplish your company’s objectives by giving staff, clients, and suppliers the information they require quickly and effortlessly.
What documents are produced and managed in a construction project?
Proper document management helps key project teams and stakeholders keep track of progress, fix issues, maintain site safety, and make the correct decisions based on accurate and up-to-date documentation.
There are hundreds more forms and guidelines that a construction company should fill out and put into effect. Each document affects the project’s execution and success. For instance, project managers can avoid mishaps if they find discrepancies in reports. Solutions are carried out more quickly when there are documents to guide them.
With a solid document management system, project managers can conveniently sort, update, and share critical information about the project with the client, company executives, and construction professionals for review or confirmation. If a formal agreement on specific actions is necessary, they can document it, too.
How do construction companies manage their documents?
Generally, construction document management is an administrative task carried out by a separate department or completed by a construction company’s back office team. They assist project managers and other construction professionals by ensuring documents are prearranged and available when needed. They can typically manage project documents in either or both ways:
- Paper-Based– With limited access to digital technology, many construction companies still use printouts for correspondence, presentation, and record-keeping. They sort their files into paper folders and store them in drawers. Companies that still heavily rely on physical records are easy to spot because their offices are full of massive drawers everywhere.
- Digital– Paper-based documentation is still far from disappearing, but it’s undeniable that most construction companies have wholly embraced the secure digital age. They now create, store, and process documents digitally. Some of them have their own servers managed by an in-house IT team. Digital construction document management solutions are more efficient as they reduce the need for paper, printing machines, and cabinets. They also expedite file creation, storage, and distribution.
Issues with paper-based construction document management systems
There are four reasons paper-based construction document management isn’t the best approach:
- It’s too slow. When you need a project management document filled out or instructions relayed, you must print copies and distribute them manually from office to office. It’s even trickier if the construction site is at a different location.
- It’s prone to errors. Even the most diligent administrative staff can make mistakes. The effects can be catastrophic if the mistakes involve critical data, such as measurements, costs, and project-related procedures. Also, you can’t ctrl+z the errors once the documents are distributed.
- It’s not secure. Paper is susceptible to the elements common in a construction site. Dust, moisture, corrosion, and infestation are among the things that can destroy physical documents. Once destroyed, they are no longer usable.
- It’s high maintenance. A construction company needs to invest time and space in proper document filing, organisation and maintenance if they wish to continue with paper-based document management. They might even need to rent additional space just for storage.
How construction project management software helps address these issues
What construction companies need to manage their documents better is a step up from the standard local network system. Integrating document management software like PlanRadar can break the boundaries of traditional construction document management systems. It is a cloud-based project management software designed to simplify construction project management. You can learn more about the PlanRadar platform here.
Here’s why construction project management software is becoming increasingly popular among construction companies.
1. Designed for easy organisation
The traditional approach typically requires a construction company to be resourceful and develop a document management system that works for them. On the other hand, project management software with document management capabilities already has the program to organise documents in the most efficient way. All the company needs to do is integrate it into its own system. In most cases, since the organisational capacity of project management software exceed traditional approaches, most construction companies modify their system altogether.
2. Centralised database
One of the challenges construction companies face is information exclusivity. You must go to great lengths to gain access to non-confidential information. With construction project management software, you can access all project-related documents, including manuals, guides, and plans, from one place. Even if restrictions exist, requesting access is easier than ever.
3. Accessible anywhere
As mentioned earlier, construction project document management software is cloud-based, meaning it’s connected to the internet, so only authorised persons can access it. The best part is they can check the project’s progress, issue an order, inspect each milestone, and communicate with team members anywhere in the world.
4. Accessible via most digital devices
Whether in the office in front of a computer or at the construction site carrying only a smartphone, a project manager can access and make changes to the same information. The only difference is the interface. But project management software is mobile-friendly, meaning data can be viewed conveniently through smaller devices.
5. Work from anywhere
Apart from being able to access project information offsite, project managers can also update, correct, or edit documents, allowing them to continue taking part in the operation without actually being there. In the traditional document management system, they can only execute corrections and orders via a different communication platform and not on the actual document where the concerned personnel can see the instructions straightaway.
Do you need to build your own construction document management software?
No, you don’t! Instead of investing time and budget in creating, maintaining, and scaling up your own platform, consider using Software as a Service platforms like PlanRadar. Once integrated into your IT infrastructure, it’s ready to use, unlike an in-house program that takes years to develop and customise to your needs. The only cause of delay for most construction companies adopting SaaS is the transition, which requires all employees and executives to learn how to use the platform.
The inefficiencies caused by managing paper documents, or even just poorly managed digital documents, can cost your company time, money, and stress. The best approach to stop these problems in their tracks is to spend money on a high-quality document management solution that fits your specific requirements.
With a robust construction document management plan, you can run each project smoothly and within schedule. That means less cost and more revenue for your company, and also prevents the likelihood of liabilities in the future.
Find out more about how PlanRadar can help you with our document management software! Book a free product demo or contact us today.