One of the easiest ways to manage photo documentation is to integrate the photos with project management tools and geolocate the photos on a map or floor plan of some kind. In the AEC (architecture, engineering, and construction) industry this is often referred to as PIP (pictures on plans).
This is especially helpful if your project team has hundreds or thousands of photos coming in each week from field teams.
How can you successfully integrate photos with project management workflows when you most likely already have large volumes of photo documentation, are managing other important documents, and an entire project team?
Clearly, there are a ton of responsibilities and data to deal with and you may even have quality issues with photo documentation to boot! The cost to implement and integrate photo documentation may seem too much to bear.
This brief article takes a look at ways you can integrate photo documentation with project management tools and offer some insight into streamlining this important workflow.
Choosing Project and Photo Documentation Tools
We already discussed capturing and organizing construction project photo documentation. Now it’s time to clean up your workflows.
How many systems do you currently use on your projects? You probably have one for project management, one for documentation, one for employee management, and another for financial management, to name a few.
That makes it incredibly difficult to establish a simple, easy-to-follow workflow. What if you can cut down your workflow by integrating photo documentation with existing software?
If you host photos offline or pass them through emails, smartsheets, or other types of mediums, that might create bottlenecks. Typically project management tools aren’t meant to handle the sheer volume of data for robust, ongoing photo-capture projects.
A photo cloud-hosting solution that integrates with project management tools like Procore and Autodesk360 can help with the challenges of integrating photo documentation and viewing through your workflows in several ways.
Benefits of Cloud-Hosting Photos
First of all, a photo cloud-hosting solution provides the storage and processing capabilities to manage large volumes of photo documentation. These solutions can also provide automatic backups and archiving, giving you peace of mind that data doesn’t get lost.
A photo documentation cloud-hosting solution gives you better quality. Some even go as far as to turn your phone images into HD-quality images. Your images will typically be geolocated so you can see exactly where your project stands as it relates to a map or floor plan of the project.
The need for collaboration is a given, and a photo cloud-hosting solution enables that. A photo cloud-hosting solution that integrates with project management tools like Procore and Autodesk360, allowing a user to remain in the Procore or Autodesk360 interface and still navigate the geolocated images via an iFrame plugin, can seamlessly integrate photo documentation into existing project and document management workflows.
Photo cloud-hosting is often an easier solution than offline because the cloud host handles everything.
Your costs get lowered because you don’t need to invest in expensive storage devices and have staff to maintain them, or worse yet, pass hard drives around to various people that may not have up-to-date information on them.
How do you make photo documentation part of your workflow? You need to know who needs access, at which point of the project they need access, and what needs to happen at each step.
This comes through a process often called “user management/access” or “credentials” and ranges from Administrative access (the person that owns the software subscription and can grant others access to the software) to View Only access, which only allows project teams to view the data, but not edit it or add other users to it.
Often these levels of access come with an additional fee which can increase the more users you would like to add. However, some software platforms such as RESolute, do not have a limit to the number of users to the subscription, enabling large projects to pay a set subscription and add as many people as they like without additional fees.
Use Cases for User Access
Users may need access to photo documentation to monitor the progress of the project and ensure that it is meeting their expectations. You need to ensure they have access and they make timely approvals.
You may need to share photo documentation with building inspectors and other regulators for compliance or insurance claims.
Investors and community groups may need access, too.
The integration of project management tools and photo documentation makes it much easier to streamline documentation, allowing users to stay in their preferred project management platform such as Procore or Autodesk360, and reference photos on the fly without having to log into another software platform, remember the website name, password, etc.
Training Is Essential
Communication between you and the rest of the collaborators on the project is essential. You’ll need to train the photographer, project reviewer, and anyone else who handles photo documentation.
A technical training program such as this can be found in Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) consulting firms. This includes step-by-step instructions for using the photo cloud-hosting solution and project management tools, and it will help collaborators understand your workflow.
It is recommended to use a combination of written instructions, video tutorials, and hands-on exercises to help team members learn how to use the tools effectively and accommodate multiple learning styles.
Make sure team members know who to contact if they have questions or need assistance, and provide access to user manuals, FAQs, and other training resources.
Integrate Photo Documentation Into Project Management Tools
Managing photo documentation isn’t easy.
The best solution is to use a photo cloud-hosting solution and integrate it with your existing project management tools. You’ll save on storage and maintenance costs while improving the quality of your photo documentation.
Interested in seeing what construction photo cloud-hosting can do for your business? How about integration into your current project management software? Contact FiOR Innovations to learn more about RESolute.