Whether you’re working with designs, information requests, specifications or contracts, how you organize construction project files plays a crucial role in a project’s success. You need a construction document management system that ensures information is approved, organized, up-to-date and accessible to key partners.
To achieve this level of collaboration and efficiency, your files should be organized in a way that helps crews coordinate, resolve issues, reduce delays, lower costs and avoid rework, as well as support and dispute claims.
Earn buy-in with a centralized system
When it comes to organizing your construction project files, it’s important to have everything in one place so that employees aren’t working within silos. Additionally, you need buy-in from everyone to make the system successful. It’s all about helping employees feel empowered to adopt it.
Initially, there could be resistance to any changes you make to your document management system, especially from long-time staffers who might be inclined to stick with the status quo. But, it’s important to push forward. Make sure your crew is aware of the benefits of a more organized system. Also, don’t be afraid to get their feedback and offer training.
Organize a digital file structure
When organizing your file structure, consider ditching paper right off the bat. Digital documents stored in a cloud-based format can be easier to work with because everyone has access to the most relevant and up-to-date documents.
Additionally, remember that data shared in Excel documents and email updates can be difficult to track, and therefore can negatively affect staff visibility, ultimately hindering productivity.
Consider following a unique naming structure and number coding system, both of which simplify searchability. This is especially helpful with pulling up records, tracking revisions and directing assignments to respective personnel. For example, your core folders could be split into limited, overarching categories, such as:
- Safety meetings
- Time cards
- Information requests
- Change orders
- Purchase orders
Having everyone on the same page is crucial in project management. The idea is to keep team members organized by having them work off of the same information.
Create a workflow
How information travels between different teams matters, which is why it’s important to implement a standardized workflow for your construction project files. Make sure you can answer the following questions:
- Who can make certain changes in the system?
- What is the review and approval process?
- How will change notifications work?
- How should changes be updated?
- How can I get my various systems to work together?
- Ultimately, how can I make sure the right information is delivered to the right person at the right time?
By answering these questions, you map out your workflow. Remember that there is no one right way to do this and that each construction company approaches it differently according to various job site needs.
Find someone to manage the system
It’s important to designate a person to oversee your centralized document system. This expert could troubleshoot issues and help keep staff on track.
It’s necessary to keep staff on track because it can be tempting for team members to manage information with their personal hard drives or cloud-based storage spaces. This is something the designated system manager should help prevent.
Additionally, consider implementing automated solutions into your system. There may be someone managing information manually, but that also means there is potential for human error. Automation can reduce some administrative burdens and improve accuracy.
Make documents accessible to key partners
Providing easy access to documents will help your employees stay informed and on schedule. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by adopting a system that allows documents to be shared via mobile devices. Receiving notifications and being able to see the latest versions of documents is crucial because team members can easily track changes.
Additionally, avoid deleting documents. Instead, save and record them to leave a digital paper trail. By doing this, you’re essentially creating an audit log, which also serves as an information backup should you experience difficulties later on.
Improve how you organize your construction project files over time
Remember, implementing your construction document management system will likely be an ongoing, evolving process. Take it one step at a time.
Additionally, consider taking an occasional pulse check to make sure your system is still effective. If you ease yourself and your colleagues into this file system in order to avoid confusion and burnout, it will be a smooth transition that will ultimately result in increased efficiency on the job site.