Project documentation is an essential aspect of any construction project. Proper documentation provides a record of the project’s planning, execution, and outcomes.
As essential as it is, construction project documentation often becomes a cumbersome and time-consuming process. According to a study by PlanGrid, construction teams spend as much as 17% of the time looking for and managing, and searching for project data/information.
This staggering statistic highlights the need for streamlining project documentation processes to maximize efficiency and productivity.
In this article, we’ll provide construction managers with five tips and strategies for simplifying project documentation to reduce time spent on paperwork and increase time spent on project delivery.
Whether you’re a seasoned construction manager or new to the industry, these tips will help you streamline your documentation processes, saving you valuable time and resources.
1. Establish Documentation Management Protocols and Controls
Every project starts with document management protocols. This ensures that everyone on your team uses the same guidelines to name and organize all document files.
Standardization makes it easier to find files, so you and your team spend less time looking for documents and more time focused on important tasks.
The standardization should apply to all types of documents, from planning maps to construction progress photos.
Document controls help keep documents up to date during the project lifecycle. This reduces errors by ensuring the right people have access to the documents they need. It also ensures that project stakeholders use the latest versions of documents.
A document control register should be created to track all project documents, including the document number, revision number, date, author, and status. The register should be updated regularly to reflect changes in the project documentation.
Create a process to review and approve project documentation. This ensures documents get reviewed by all stakeholders, including the project manager, project team members, consultants, and clients. The process should include guidelines on who can approve documents and how to track approvals.
2. Turn to Digital Tools
The adoption rate of digital tools on construction projects has been slow and steady over the past several years. Yet, there are construction companies that rely solely on pen and paper at job sites.
It’s worth it to turn to digital tools because they can help streamline documentation and foster collaboration. Not only that, these tools minimize errors while maximizing efficiencies.
Here are a few options to consider to help ease your project documentation burden:
Project Management Software: Platforms like Procore, PlanGrid, and Autodesk BIM 360 provide all-in-one project management solutions that enable construction managers to streamline their documentation, communication, and collaboration processes.
These tools can manage every part of the project, from document management to financial management.
Cloud-Based Storage: Cloud storage solutions like AWS, Google Drive, Dropbox, and Microsoft OneDrive make it easy for teams to store, share, and access construction project documentation from anywhere. It’s possible to use a cloud-based storage solution for construction progress photos that integrates with project management software for a completely streamlined approach.
Construction-Specific Apps: Many construction-specific apps like Procore, Fieldwire, Bluebeam Revu, and Raken offer tools for managing project documentation, such as digital drawings, field reports, and daily logs.
Building Information Modeling (BIM): BIM software like Autodesk Revit, Bentley Architecture, and Graphisoft ArchiCAD enables construction managers to create, manage, and share digital 3D models that contain all project data and documentation.
Electronic Signature Tools: Need to get signatures quickly? Electronic signature tools like DocuSign, Adobe Sign, and HelloSign make it easy to get approvals and authorizations in a few clicks.
3. Use Automation As Much As Possible
How much time do you spend on repetitive tasks? Automation can alleviate that problem, so you spend less time on little tasks that divert your attention away from major issues.
Do you have daily reports to deliver? Automate them. The same with repetitive tasks.
What else can you automate? Some digital tools allow you to automate document routing and approval. This way, all necessary approvals are obtained in a timely and efficient manner.
The most basic cloud software tools like Dropbox and Google Drive have version control features that let you track changes. You can access older document versions if necessary.
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology can be used to automatically extract data from documents, reducing the need for manual data entry and increasing accuracy. This can even be done from photos of documents taken by a phone; simply long-press the image and copy/paste the text!
You can automate notifications and alerts and send them to stakeholders when documents get updated. This keeps everyone aware of document changes and updates.
4. Prioritize Information
Construction projects can have thousands of documentation files. It’s difficult to keep track of all of them. However, if you prioritize documents, you can make sure that the most important ones get the attention they need.
That ensures essential information doesn’t get overlooked and it reduces the risk of project delays and errors.
Start your prioritization process by categorizing the most important documents. These are crucial to the success of the project, or they relate to quality, safety, and compliance.
Anything that is time sensitive gets prioritized over documents that don’t need urgent attention.
Do you have documents that get accessed frequently? These documents get prioritized over documents that you don’t look at or need as often.
Documents that are relevant to the current stage of the project get prioritized over previous and future stages.
Documents that are necessary to avoid legal and compliance issues need to get prioritized, as do documents that are important to clients and other stakeholders.
Priorities will change and evolve during the project. You’ll want to develop a system to work with and make changes as the project moves forward.
5. Assign a Document Manager
How can you know that everyone on your team abides by your document management guidelines? One option is to micromanage them, but that pulls you away from more important tasks.
The alternative is to have a dedicated document manager. They would be responsible for creating, organizing, updating, and distributing construction project documentation. That frees you up to work on other tasks and you know that all documentation is consistent and accessible to team members.
Project coordinators, document control specialists, administrative assistants, and technical writers are good candidates for this huge responsibility.
The ideal person needs to have a broad understanding of the scope of the project. They should understand the project’s goals, schedule, budget, stakeholders, and technical requirements. This allows them to manage the project and will help the document manager to create and manage project documentation that is consistent with the project’s goals and objectives.
They need to have the technical skills to manage digital documentation. The person in this position needs to have strong communication skills so everyone understands the guidelines and document control processes. Most importantly, they need to be organized and have incredible attention to detail.
Streamline Construction Project Documentation
You and your team don’t need to spend hours each week searching for project data and documentation. This article showed you how you can streamline your project documentation. Documents are easily accessible and you have a way to manage the project and improve the overall efficiency at the same time.
If you’d like to know more about managing progress photos and other documentation, contact the team at FiOR Innovations today.