Rework continues to impact the cost and overall project performance of the whole construction industry. On a typical construction job, one study showed that the direct costs alone can go around 5% of the total project contract costs. While this can be attributed to several factors, construction managers often underestimate how much poor project document management can impact a project.
In order to avoid costly delays and schedule overruns, construction companies should take project documentation seriously.
Read on to get tips on managing your construction project documents more efficiently.
Understand The Importance of Proper Documentation
Documentation is the memory of every construction project. Any missed blueprints, drawings, permits, contracts or specs can lead to logistical, operational, or even legal troubles. In fact, most of the conflicts encountered by this industry have to do with paperwork disputes. If you want to avoid stressful and costly construction litigation, keeping detailed and updated records should be a priority.
But having your entire team understand that is a critical step before getting a new document management system. They have to be involved and be aware of their role in the process. Note that it’s impossible for any changes to work without cooperation from everyone involved in the project.
Use A Digital Filing System
Documenting everything on paper is tedious and time-consuming. It often impedes progress as everyone in the construction waits for certain information or approvals. Plus, manually updating and sending every document on the site can lead to late project schedules and poor decisions. The best solution is to digitize all the essential documents floating around.
Document management software like eFileCabinet and Pro Crew Schedule can speed up the process. Instead of waiting for phone calls and emails, your team will be able to update real-time information remotely and keep everyone on the same page all the time. But ensure to use a system that best suits your business’s needs, culture, and operational flow.
Below are some of the questions worth considering when setting up a digital filing system:
- How much is your budget?
- What are the tech skills of your team?
- How much training will using the platform correctly require?
- How many people will use the system?
Create A Document Retention Policy
You need to set up some rules before using the digital filing system. One important thing to have in place is a document retention policy. It’s basically a guideline for creating, sharing, and storing documents. Keep in mind that doing this requires proper research, thorough planning and determined commitment to implementation.
But here are a few points to help you get started:
Having an inventory of every document you have is vital. This way you’d know the number of records you’re dealing with. Make sure to categorize the records as general, vital, or archival. Doing so can help you set specific rules in creating project documents and tracking them more easily. Note that this documentary inventory will be helpful in determining your retention schedule.
How long you will need to keep construction documents depends on the state and federal regulations. Although many of them usually require the safekeeping of construction records for at least three years, make sure to check your state and local laws. Bear in mind that keeping documents longer than necessary can create legal liabilities. But for all tax-related documents, keep them for a minimum of seven years no matter what.
Most document management systems charge based on the amount of storage. When it comes to storing data, deciding on how you will organize also matters. It will be useless to have stored data that’s difficult to search. So be sure to have functional and easily searchable digital storage.
You can’t keep construction documents forever. At some point, you need to destroy them to keep storage costs down and minimize the chances of inappropriate access to sensitive data. Remember that many people have access to them throughout the course of a project.
That’s why a secure document destruction policy is essential. But be sure to work with a third-party vendor that complies with the protocols of the National Association for Information Destruction, which outlines the best practices for safe data destruction.
Assign A Team To Manage The System
Depending the size of your organization and the amount of documentation produced, there must be an appropriately-sized team that who will oversee the document management system. They are accountable for implementing the documentation protocols and ensuring the system runs as intended. The assigned team must handle any technical issues that may arise and adjust the system as necessary to accommodate the needs of the construction firm.