Improve Your Document Control System


From the outside, the construction process often looks chaotic and disorganised. Like everyone is just doing whatever comes to mind in the moment.

However, as a construction document management professional, you know differently.

At higher levels, construction is all about documented processes, procedures, and activities. Whether it’s a bid specification, a change order, or an incident report, everything in the construction world is written down somewhere.

The only problem with all of that is ensuring that everyone is using the right document for the right thing and that they’ve got the latest version. In some ways, technology has made this easier, but in many ways, it’s brought its own complications. Here are a few ideas you can use to improve construction file management in your organisation.

Construction documentation can be vast, especially when paper-based.

Creating a Consistent File Structure

When most construction companies start out, they usually have the bare minimum in terms of documentation. They do enough to comply with health and safety and other relevant legislation, but they’re a lot more focused on getting the job done than the paper trail it takes to get there.

Over time, however, if you’re doing things right, the documents you need to get anything done will evolve and expand until you have a small-scale library on your hands.

The best way to keep track of your construction document management is to borrow from actual libraries. They use the Dewey decimal system, but you can create a similar file structure and filing system. From revision numbers to naming conventions, having a standard system makes it easier for everyone to use the right documents at the right time.

ISO 19650 and BIM software can help to create a structure that makes sense and works for your business, but it’s a good idea to think hard about your information architecture as a unique system. There are no other companies that do exactly what you do in the ways you do it, so you need to create something that works for you.

Unfortunately, all it takes is one filing error or a missed email, and several members of your team might be working with the wrong information.

Traditional filing systems can quickly become unfit for purpose.

Storage of Documents

One of the biggest benefits of technology in construction is that it simultaneously solves the problems of document storage and ensures that the correct version of every document is the only one in use.

Before we had cloud-based storage for our ISO 19650 construction document management systems, we all relied on old-fashioned paper prints, faxes and emailed copies of drawings, schedules, specifications and other crucial documents. Unfortunately, all it takes is one filing error or a missed email, and several members of your team might be working with the wrong information.

The longer it takes to fix problems like that, the more likely the results will cost more and take longer to fix.

Digital document storage that allows you to archive old versions of any document while still allowing access to authorised users is the simplest way to ensure everyone is quite literally on the same page.

Cloud-based storage means documents are up-to-date and viewable anywhere.

Guaranteeing Up-To-Date Documents

The final challenge we all face when trying to implement ISO 19650 and BIM software and maintain accurate and up-to-date project documents is accountability.

When everyone is pulling paperwork from old-fashioned files and paper folders, some are bound to be lost, misfiled or distributed incorrectly. It’s very hard to keep track of every piece of paper in your construction file management system all the time.

Modern construction document management options might have the solution, too, by maintaining an audit trail and logs and even just by correctly tagging and saving every file in the correct chronological order.

Modern construction projects generate hundreds or even thousands of documents, and it’s critical that everyone is accounted for properly, tracked correctly and replaced when it’s out of date. As your projects get bigger and more complex, the best way to do that is usually to rely on technology and build checks and balances into your system.

Posted By

Tamara joined the Trimble team in 2020. She likes taking complicated subject matters and making them easy to understand. She is experienced in the construction software market with expertise in content creation and distribution. In her spare time, you'll often find her running or dog-walking (not usually at the same time.)