4 Pro-Tips for Construction Document Management Success

June 30, 2020 Tristam Wallace

Have you heard of cloud-based construction document management, but don’t think you need it? Think again…

In their 2014 reportManaging Uncertainty and Expectations in Building Design and Construction, McGraw Hill Construction found that owners see Errors & Omissions as one of the top concerns for project uncertainty. Furthermore, 80% of surveyed owners responded that they were unsure that future projects would be completed without added costs due to these factors. In other words, owners are not confident that the construction industry can remove these issues from project execution anytime soon.

Why is that? Because there is an enormous amount of information generated in construction projects—specifications, submittals, plans and models, etc.—and each piece of that information goes through multiple iterations, by multiple stakeholders. This amount and pace of change can be overwhelming, particularly when there is no single platform for storing, coordinating and sharing this information.

Cloud-based construction document management—created specifically for the AEC industry—addresses these common pain point for builders, designers, and engineers and can help prevent errors and omissions from causing project uncertainty.

Construction Document Management and the Team

Construction Document Management Team.png

Having a standard document management strategy helps multiple stakeholders collaborate effectively at all times. This common denominator helps to uniformly address the different requirements of various stakeholders in a document management process:

Business owners make decisions about document management technology and how it will be used. They may or may not be involved in the day to day management of such documents, but are invested in profitability while decreasing the risk of mistakes.

Architects and engineers struggle with a tedious workflow of adding, deleting, and re-versioning data to sheets. This can make it difficult for them to effectively troubleshoot the process and communicate directly with those in the field who are implementing their ideas.

Site foremen may realize information is missing and ask for clarification from the larger team but do not receive an immediate response. A lack of real-time communication with designers and engineers puts them at a disadvantage.

In other instances, site foremen may not know that a design plan has changed because they are working from an outdated set of plans. This can be costly to a project in terms of time and money.

The entire project team needs to be confident that sensitive information is secure and private to specific stake-holders on a per-user permission basis.

While project size may not merit a full-time document manager, this role is always critical. They also have the added burden of knowing that any mistakes will have serious financial or legal consequences for their company, a lack of tools that allow for standardization and automated naming structures, a way to disseminate the most up-to-date information to the field, and the elimination of manual curation and sharing.

 

Tips & Best Practices for Managing Construction Documents

If you think that the cloud might help alleviate some of the burden on your business, here are a few tips and best practices to help you start making the move from time-consuming paper processes to more streamlined sharing of data.

 

Tip #1:  Select the platform that works best for your business

Depending on budget, number of stakeholders and users, and amount and sensitivity of documentation, research which platform will work best for your business. With a number of options to choose from, you’ll be able to weigh the pros and cons of each to arrive at a solution that saves you both time and money.

Paper

ProsCommonly understood by all users.

Cons: Not possible to keep current in real time; manual and time-consuming process; expensive to print; not accessible anywhere/anytime; risk of losing information because notes may not have been added to latest version.

Email/FTP

Pros: Cost-effective; offers access-control and the ability to transmit very large files.

Cons: Must be online to download files; limited version control or collaborative capabilities; unreliable viewing experience and files may become corrupted or be difficult to read depending upon device; may require different apps (such as a PDF reader or design software) to view native files.

Cloud-based file sharing (Box, Dropbox, etc.)

Pros: Easy to share with users, syncs offline, basic permission-based access; relatively inexpensive for low storage requirements.

Cons: No-construction-specific tools (markups, sheet extraction, etc.) or ability to view 3D models; costs can rise as storage requirements or number of users increase.

Sharepoint

Pros: Easy to access and share with users given permission-based access; can be used via a network or the cloud.

Cons: Costs mount depending on user- or enterprise-level licenses; time and budget must be set aside to train team how to use; construction-specific workflows must be custom-built; limited ability to sync offline; poor mobile experience due to no true or dedicated mobile app to access.

Cloud-Based Document Management (such as BIM 360 Docs)

Pros: Offers construction-specific workflows; version control and comparison; grants online and offline access to information; improved security with flexible permission-based access control; support for 2D plans and 3D models.

Cons: Mobile OS availability may be limited based on the application; per user pricing pressures the amount of collaboration.

 

Tip #2: Create a folder structure

Structuring your folders in a specific and logical way ensures easy sharing of documents among specific stakeholders on projects. Some stakeholders may be able to access folders while others may not be granted those permissions. For best practices on creating an easily-accessible folder structure, watch this video:

 

 
 
 
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Tip #3: Discuss version control and naming conventions.

Once you have a folder structure in place, having uniform naming conventions for the contents of these folders ensures all stakeholders have easy access to pertinent documents. Individual documents will often have multiple versions and you may need to refer back to an older version to verify its contents. To ensure accuracy, install a system of naming different types of files and their versions.

 

Tip #4: Be Flexible

Lean construction isn’t just an industry buzzword—it’s a best practice for good reason. Regularly check-in with the team as to how the system and process are working. Improve upon practices that aren’t working and continually update the team and training on systems to ensure compliance and effectiveness of these processes.

 

Conclusion

To unify your team with the information they need to keep projects rolling along smoothly, you need a single source of truth for all stakeholders to work from. A cloud-based platform like BIM 360 Docs helps bring that information to relevant members of your team in real-time.

Check out what BIM 360 Docs can do (~2 min)

 

 
 
 
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2:07
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

From inception to completion, professionals will be able to:

  • Standardize information shared across teams.
  • Access the most recent versions available anytime via a mobile device.
  • Mitigate financial risk for small business owners and decision-makers by decreasing risk of accessing the wrong document version.
  • Increase your team’s ability to meet compliance regulations.
  • Reduce the number of purchased collaboration tools in budget line items.

 

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