Best Practices for Construction Document Management
Document management might not sound glamorous, but effective document management is critical to the success of construction projects. As contractors move from pen and paper to digital, paperless operating environments, they have found a variety of solutions for document management available to them, some more sophisticated than others.
Still, many contractors use a mix of paper and digital documents, and even if they’ve gone fully digital, they may rely on a mix of software applications. A survey of the Viewpoint community found many contractors still rely on basic digital tools like spreadsheets to manage their projects. (Last year’s Construction Technology Report from JBKnowledge reported similar findings).
On the whole, this trend toward digital is good. It means contractors want to make documents more accessible to their teams. But for real success with document control in construction to happen, we need to focus on solving the remaining challenges of document storage and accessibility.
The Challenges of Construction Document Management
Document management is not a trivial thing. Contracts, compliance documentation, drawings and specs and more all ensure a project is carried out according to plan. These documents play a fundamental role in construction. But many common challenges arise related to document management, even in modern construction organizations:
- Version confusion: As revisions occur, multiple versions of documents are created, which concerned parties may not be aware of or have immediate access to. This can easily lead to errors and rework if crews consult an outdated document.
- Access difficulties: Finding the right paper documents can take time but accessing digital documents in the field can be time-consuming as well. Internet connectivity issues, slow VPNs, file permission problems and other delays can arise, especially when multiple digital solutions are used to store, send or access documents.
- Problems modifying in the field: Not all software applications make it easy to edit or comment on documents, especially for people who work outside the office.
- Wasted time: Without a centralized repository for documents, everyone spends extra time looking for what they need.
Centralize Your Data
The first step to getting a handle on document management at your organization is to centralize your documents. An integrated software solution that provides access to the most current project documents in real time makes it easier for all members of your project teams to find what they need and execute a project correctly.
At Viewpoint, we often talk about the importance of having one accurate source of data, and document management is no exception. Unless everyone is working off the same information, how can you confidently say things will be done correctly?
Make Documents Accessible Anywhere
Next, you need to make that single document source readily available to everyone who needs it. Cloud-based document storage allows your team to access documents in the field, often from a web browser.
Our Viewpoint Team solution, for example, can be accessed using a computer in the office, or a tablet or smartphone out in the field thanks to its easy-to-use browser interface. This allows for real-time sharing and viewing of important documents. It has a customizable folder structure, so it’s simple to navigate, and includes a complete version history and audit trail so you can see who’s made changes to documents. With Viewpoint Team, users can also mark up PDFs in their browser, so it’s easy to leave notes and get questions answered.
The right software makes documents easily accessible in the field.
Solutions like Viewpoint Team are also highly customizable, so you can set up a user interface and filing system that makes sense for your business. Once your team members know the structure, future use is easy. No one will need to worry about logging in to and navigating multiple software applications.
A centralized, reliable document management solution ultimately enables better collaboration for everyone working on your projects and gives you more control over documentation. You won’t have to worry about inaccurate data floating around and leading to mistakes on your jobsites. Explore Viewpoint’s document management solutions page to learn more about tools that can help your organization simplify document management.