Document control is an integral part of efficient construction project management. Without complete, accurate, and accessible records, the main stages of building structures—planning, design, construction, monitoring, and closing—may suffer from major setbacks. Construction documents exist to guide workers, engineers, and other stakeholders on the design and program of works, among other things. In some cases, missing plans can disrupt workflows, causing delays, building errors, and costly reworks.
Project managers can’t afford any snags, as time is money in the construction sector. Cement your way to appropriate and efficient construction practice by understanding what document control is and how you can manage records to encourage uninterrupted work.
What Is Construction Document Control?
Construction recording doesn’t start and end with architecture and engineering software. Because projects undergo numerous design and structural changes all throughout the construction period, the person assigned to manage construction documents should be skillful, meticulous, and organized.
Apart from the design papers, document control also deals with technical plans and contracts, including any type of changes and updates each element goes through in the project. To make sure everything is in order, document control must include proper labelling, numbering, recording updates and alterations, issuing construction documents and many other things.
Thanks to technology, construction document control is less laborious with the mix of digital and physical file creation and recording. Instead of waiting for engineers to be physically present onsite, files can be sent electronically and approved as the manager affixes his or her online signature. This significantly cuts the time and costs spent for the entire project.
How To Manage Construction Documents More Efficiently
Be Less Dependent On Paper
It’s counterintuitive to keep all your paper files onsite. They’re vulnerable to getting lost or damaged, what with the harsh conditions in the project area. Besides, you can’t make multiple copies available to all the staff who need to access them on a regular basis, such as architects, engineers, supervisors, and other key employees.
Choose a good software or cloud—based storage to enhance document control. Keeping everything automated makes construction records more accessible and less susceptible to corruption, losses, damages, and unintentional deletions.
Take a Look At Your Current System
Have you had several files lost following the previous week’s updated design? It can be a strong indication that you need to revisit and perhaps make a few tweaks to improve your record—keeping system. Or this could be an opportunity to switch to a new one altogether.
Here are a few points critical to your evaluation and decision:
- List down the most common problems and assess where vulnerabilities come from.
- Make sure your digital recording and filing system is easy to use and customizable according to your needs.
- Choose a software that allows you to upscale, when needed.
- Evaluate the accessibility of your documents by asking several users who need them the most.
- Choose a platform that’s available for use across a wide range of devices and applications.
- Ensure that your system is accurate and secure from unauthorized access.
- Determine whether the software company is responsive to your needs.
If there are more downsides than benefits from using the system, it may be better to find a better software that can tackle your current and future needs. In reality, there’s a labor shortage facing the construction industry, so construction companies must do their best to be efficient.
Set Up Or Amend Your Document Information Process
Despite the presence of a system, you need to keep everything in order by creating your document information processes. A good system is useless without processes in place. Imagine if anyone can make changes to the files and delete some of them?
Establish a clear table of information flow between and among departments and units. In most cases, designating the department or team leader as a focal person for information and record access, distribution, and sharing helps streamline your processes. These department heads can also act as approvers, while persons in the upper tier can act as reviewers or vice versa.
If you already have a process in place, check whether there’s a need to amend or simplify it. Remember that no two projects are alike. Thus, system processes need to be modified to accommodate a project’s unique attributes.
Choose Competent Persons To Take Charge Of The System
As discussed, record control entails a lot of organizing, labelling, updating, and releasing important data. Thus, it demands that a document manager be technically qualified to perform several tasks, including troubleshooting system snags. The person assigned should be able to facilitate smooth information flow and be experienced enough to work with the system when it’s not being cooperative. The document control manager should also be able to stick to the policies in place.
Explain The Processes To The Team
Once the system and policies are in place, conduct a team meeting to make sure everyone is on the same wavelength—from the persons on the ground to the supervisory, management, and executive levels. Explain the workflows involved in requesting, accessing, and sharing construction records, including the roles of each unit or key persons.
Be open to suggestions from the persons on the field and take note of the points raised or any feedback. Follow up with the management for any proposal and for any changes that the management sees fit.
Accessibility is crucial in a construction project—or any form of undertaking, for that matter. In order to make work better for everyone, all employees involved should be able to access important records to get things done.
One important thing to consider is the file format’s compatibility to diverse software and electronic devices. As most construction documents are electronic, common apps, or software should be able to open the file for viewing. If not, instruct users to download the app on their devices.
A format with no compatibility issues makes finding other documents and keeping track of design changes easier for everyone involved in the project.
Seek To Improve Your Processes
Like the project itself, nothing about document control is set in stone, quite literally. This means you should always seek to evaluate and enhance your processes, as necessary.
Changes in the construction stages may change the manpower and work setups. And this may call for specific revisions in your document control procedures. Consider inputs from everyone about the challenges they’re facing as far as the current system is concerned. Ask for inputs on how the procedures can be better.
Choosing a good software and hiring the right people to run it are keys to successfully managing construction document control. Getting everyone on board is also important. To do this, maintain open communication with the whole team to find out how to make the processes work better for the project’s overall success.