In construction management, we are all familiar with the five fundamental stages of building a project – Initiation, Planning, Executing, Monitoring, And Closing. We create the most comprehensive procedures with the most detailed flow of tasks for each of these stages to avoid any risks, delays and rework during the whole process. We follow-through these steps, and everything goes smoothly, but every now and then, we would be stopped in our tracks – something is missing. A document needed to proceed to the next task in the project suddenly disappeared.
This dilemma is nothing new to the people in the construction industry, and some consider this a part of the daily operations- when it shouldn’t be. With records split between digital and paper, field and office, workers, and stakeholders, there is no wonder there exists so much error and rework.
As construction projects become more complex, and teams get bigger, proper document control needs to be an integral part of your overall construction management. Inefficient document control is detrimental to a project, for a single missing document can lead to delays, budget overruns, and misunderstanding between the team members.
In our blog, we’ll delve into what it means to get a grip on construction document control and 9 tips essential to success.
What is Construction Document Control?
So you may ask, what does it mean to have your construction documents under control?
Considering how frequently the building records get updated during the design, construction, and operations, it’s no surprise that document control is challenging to maintain and critical to implement – but not impossible.
Document control in construction project management deals with managing the contracts, manuals, technical plans, and design documents. It also layout the document control procedures that will be carried out during the project lifecycle. Here is a list of document control management components that should be standardized from the planning stage:
– Document labeling
– Revision numbering
– Checking and approval systems
– Status of documents
– Recording of changes
– Templates, such as document headings and drawing title blocks
– Formatting, such as page sizes and orientation, fonts and font sizes, etc.
– System for storing documents
– System for issuing documents
– Control of externally created documents
Even though document management may feel intimidating initially, it’s a simple process of implementing new methods to old systems. Let’s take a look at these nine tips on managing construction documents more efficiently.
Tips on Managing Construction Documents More Efficiently
Explain the Benefits to the Entire Team
In order to produce any changes in any way, it must first start within; in organizations, it is the team that needs to materialize it to reality. Before you take giant steps in your pursuit of a more improved construction document control, you must first get all your staff on board, and they must understand its importance for the company and their roles.
Ensure that every team member, from the workers to the executives, is equally devoted to this goal. Resistance may arise from some who are not fond of the changes but make an effort to guide them on the benefits and always listen to their feedback.
2. Create a Team to Manage the System
Like all the various aspects of construction management, it is essential to identify core people who manage the document controlling to ensure that everything is always in order. These key people will be responsible for establishing templates, troubleshooting potential issues, and keeping the workflows moving. They could also identify the members who are not following new policies and get them back on track.
3. Get Rid of Paper
The days of storing construction project documents and records in filing cabinets are long gone. With all the available project management tools and technology available in the market, it is now easy to digitize all the blueprints, design plans, and memos floating around.
You may also need to rethink your dependency on Excel and emails as foundations for your document control. Spreadsheets and emails may look organized and systematized at first glance, but these records may get corrupted, mislabeled, and worse, deleted forever. Going digital with the right cloud-based system is the only way to obtain efficient construction document management.
4. Standardize Your Documenting System
It is vital to have one construction control system to centralize your documents. When selecting the right software option, ask yourself the following questions:
– Is it easy to use? Can anyone track down the info instantly when using it?
– Is it accessible anywhere? Both in-field and remote locations?
– Is it powered by the cloud? Does it work across mobile, tablets, and laptop applications?
– Can it downsize and expand with your team if necessary?
– Is the security strong? Can you maintain privacy and avoid information leakage?
– Does it take into consideration customer support? Can the provider help you address your issues should you have one?
If the system you are considering says “yes” to all the questions above, you are now confident to adapt it and make the next step to standardization.
5. Establish Your Information Flow
The flow of the information itself in construction project management is essential. How it travels through different teams concerned in the project can help in minimizing the confusion among them. How and when should the changes be updated? Who needs to review and approve? Who gets to be notified of the changes?
Once you have a definitive system, stick to it, embrace it, and you can proceed from there.
6. Choose One Source of Issuing Documents
To avoid any confusion or misunderstanding, you need to select one sole source for issuing documents. If you decide to use a system software, changes using email and hard copy should not be considered. This also leads to fewer conflicts since everyone will remain on the same page.
Consequently, the team can also feel assured that whenever they need the most current set of documents, they can easily search it in your system, and that’s exactly what they’re finding. Every member can see precisely the revisions made and what do these changes comprise.
7. Adopt Functional Document Formats
The format’s document is often overlooked; however, it can help in the overall efficiency of the project operation. Considering that construction documents carry a ton of crucial information, the way the information is presented can be vital. You need to prepare a format for either the physical or digital document, whatever your team have decided to use. Each of these formats should be designed in a way that gets all the necessary information across as best as possible.
8. Make Documentation Accessible For All
Providing easy access to all the project’s construction documents will ensure that team members stay informed and on schedule. The most efficient way to achieve this is through software that enables you to view documents on different gadgets, from mobile devices to desktop.
Make sure that the access is open throughout the entire construction lifecycle – from the structural design through turnover- so all the owners, operations, management, and even renovators, can utilize it at a later time if need be. Moreover, using dependable software and tools for construction document management can lead to better project outcomes, including increased project productivity and team collaboration, fewer issues, rework, and lesser risks.
9. Switch to Automated Tools
For construction document control, you not only need all the information, but you also need precise information. While it may feel convenient to record things manually, this opens up plans and documents for errors and inaccurate data. Even a little discrepancy can have a significant impact on the project. In this progressive industry, it is imperative to look for advanced solutions that can automate things for you and your team so you can focus on more urgent matters at hand.
Simple automation tricks can reduce the admin burden of construction document control while making things more accurate, so whenever it is possible for you, put automation to use.
A New Look on Project Management System for Documents
Manual methods dramatically reduce your productivity. Instead of being out on the field and doing what you need to do, it confines you to the office and consumes most of your time. Instead of using old approaches to construction document control, you can rely on automation so you could focus your attention on working on higher-level tasks and more vital concerns on site. Better control over construction documents leads to more informed decision-making, quality, efficiency, and transparency while attaining the scheduled milestones with greater accuracy and confidence.
Get your workflows and documents organized with the use of ProCrew Schedule, a construction management technology powered by the cloud, to enable real-time communication and updates with all the members of your team. With this tool’s help, you can cut down the amount of time and resources spent on document management and go back to what you love best: building.
It is worth noting that while the above tips are easy to maintain once established, it’s essential to take them slowly at first. Or else, you risk confusion, pressure, and resistance from managers and workers who feel overwhelmed by the sudden introduction of new changes. Inform all the stakeholders ahead of time, discuss with them, and let them know what’s coming. This will make the transition smooth for everyone and safeguard an excellent construction document control system for life.