Construction Document Management Software: Needs & Ways To Use

According to a survey by the American Institute of Architects, nearly 30% of construction projects - both in the public and private sectors - are significantly delayed. Of these, about 4% of the projects are permanently abandoned. Amongst the abandoned projects, a staggering 70% are private projects. 

This is a significant number and that is important to take note considering how these abandonments are counter-productive towards the economic, environmental and energy goals that the US has set for itself. This is not good news and companies are scouting for ways to mitigate delays and abandonments. 

One of the primary reasons for delays that snowballs into a host of other complications ultimately leading to abandonments is inefficient project management. To drill it down further, it is a lack of a streamlined approach to aligning multiple factors contributing to the successful completion of a project. 

Causes of Construction Project Delays

Here are a few reasons why projects can go haywire resulting in either delays or their abandonment. 

1. Set up of the Organization 

In a distributed setup where different stakeholders are located far apart, collaboration can be a challenge. There is a lot of scope for miscommunication and lack of real-time, coherent ways to disperse information. This can stall progress in field operations or sometimes even end up in a deviation from what is envisaged and what is executed. This leaves the unfortunate opportunity to rework or rebuild, which not just escalates costs but also affects timelines and reputation. 

Takeaway: Lack of setting up real-time collaboration is a sureshot recipe for disaster. 

2. Scope Creep 

Projects are usually well-planned and scoped out on paper. But, there are times when on-the-go changes can kick in which are inevitable due to various reasons and have to be accommodated. This scope creep sets up projects on a trail of ambiguities and confusion. To communicate these across the many layers of an organization can be a daunting task with ample scope for miscommunication and slipups. This can result in a rigmarole of back and forth exchanges of information that can offset the speed and progress of completion. 

Takeaway: Scope creep is to be anticipated. Systems to be in place to adapt faster. 

3. Delay In Processes 

Approval processes can take significant time and they have a major impact on operations. This is particularly escalated by manual operations and archaic methods of running workflows. These delays can snowball quickly especially when the scale of projects is large. This could result in major delays and disruptions in operations leading to chaos. 

Takeaway: Set up your process for success and not systemic delay. 

4. Lack of Adoption of Technology 

A construction project has many layers of people from blue collar to executives. The same level of adoption of technology can be logistically challenging to accomplish. It can also seem like an investment that needs effective management and sustained attention. Slow or no adoption of tech will lead to a setback eventually and companies have to then play a catchup game. The time lost has a cost associated with it. 

Takeaway: Proactive technology adoption is a worthy and essential investment. 

5. Other Factors 

There could be other larger factors like financing, impact due to regulatory changes, interest rate fluctuations and the impact it would have on operations. However, a lot of it can be made easier if structured documentation is in place. Although the factors may not be avoidable entirely, the response to these changes can be much better with a better approach to managing documents. 

Takeaway: Prepare for change with structure in place to manage documents. 

Solution: Streamlining Construction Document Management 

Construction Document Management Software is a tool that regulates the flow of documents for managing construction projects. It is the fulcrum that enables smooth collaboration among stakeholders including - contractors, project managers, vendors, suppliers and more. It facilitates timely  access to all relevant documents at all times, depending on the nature and need for each job type and role type, it is a foolproof way to ensure security and compliance. 

The Role of Construction Document Management Software In Streamlining Operations 

1. Single Source of Truth 

As we understand changes are inevitable and that could lead to newer versions of documents and plans, a software clearly establishes one version of the truth. This is critical to ensuring there is a common reference point for all stakeholders. This helps a long way in sticking to the latest version of the plan and in aligning operations towards the most recent common objective. 

2. Reduced Wait Times for Approvals

WIth the right set of tools to manage documents, you can set up fast approval workflows. This can significantly reduce wait times and enable smooth flow of operations. This is a good step up for efficiencies and in ensuring minimum disruption due to internal process delays. 

3. Improved Security & Compliance 

Audits are a standard process in the industry. Yet, they can consume quite a bit of time if documentation is haywire. Construction document management software makes this simple by ensuring easy and instant availability of critical information. This accelerates the process and causes minimum disruption to operations. Document management with software also improves security.  

4. Timely & Centralised Access

Companies need to establish transparent, secure and centralized access to documents so all stakeholders can access them in time. This is essential to maintain continuity of operations without getting stuck. It is also critical to ensure plans are followed and there are no deviations. 

Essential Aspects: Construction Document Management Software 

Here are some of the essential features to look for in a construction document management software:

1. Security 

A good software focuses on security. The right kind and levels of encryption, access management and control shape the security landscape of an organization. This is critical to ensure at a time where data breaches and associated damages are an everyday headline. 

2. Ease of use 

The ability to easily onboard users and seamless usability impacts the adoption rate of software across the organization. Software that is designed to work across multiple devices and is sensitive to the fact that people from different backgrounds will use the tool, is essential. Basic factors like responsiveness, ability to work in low network areas, offline usage etc. are key aspects that can enable a wide spectrum of users to smoothly use the tool. 

3. Ease of access of documents 

A good product simplifies accessibility of documents for stakeholders. This is a key aspect that ensures operations are not disrupted and seamlessness is not compromised due to faulty processes. 

4. Versioning system 

While it is inevitable that a document can undergo several revisions and see many versions, a tool that captures versioning well is the one that businesses badly need. This makes sure there is no ambiguity and confusion pertaining to which is the latest version. Ensuring the most recent information is essential for productive operations. 

5. Ability to plug and play with existing systems in the organization 

Integration capabilities with existing IT systems in the organization are a key consideration for companies. This facilitates smooth & secure interchange of data across systems and simplifies life for teams. A good document management software for the construction industry has seamless plug-and-play capabilities and is easy to work with. 

For a more detailed guide on adopting a construction document management software, refer to our earlier article.

Conclusion

Operational continuity is the cornerstone for timely completion of projects which seems to be a challenge for many American construction companies. With the right construction document management software, this can be accomplished with ease. The importance of streamlined management of construction documents and its impact on day to day operations cannot be stated more. Transform your operations with the right tools & technology in place. 

July 5, 2024

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