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Document control in construction projects encompasses the creation, management, modification, issuance, and accessibility of innumerable construction documents. Documents such as contracts, plans, manuals, and budget, equipment, and design details are made and handled with the utmost care by construction companies.
The purpose of document control is to ensure that the company’s documents are well-organized and managed while keeping them updated, accessible, and available for the long-term.
Managing detailed business documents is a tedious, time consuming, but a fundamental task for construction companies. Without controlling the flow of documents, companies would fail to complete the works within the stipulated budgets and deadlines. Moreover, the whole construction process would also be very chaotic and directionless.
Construction businesses, with various contracts and projects running simultaneously, strengthen and improve their performance using document control. Document control enhances productivity by providing updated and required information in no time.
This has made several construction companies to switch from traditional pen and paper methods to digital options for document control. Several software and applications have also been introduced to streamline and simplify the process.
Benefits of Document Control
1. A Centralized Collection of Data
With numerous ongoing projects and collaborations, it is crucial to have a central repository of all documents. Such a collection would provide all the employees with access to necessary documents, leading to increased efficiency and productivity.
This would also ensure that all the team members refer to the same updated version of a document and not an older version, hence receiving the same, latest, and accurate information. Real-time access to required information increases the flow of services and maintains productivity.
There are numerous documentations involved in construction projects and contracts. From the initial agreements, plans, designs, budgets, blueprints, and customer specifications to information about the projects. Having control over the documents would also mean making it accessible to the concerned employees. Instead of contacting other team members in the project, one can refer to the documents themselves.
This would increase the pace of the work and also eliminate accidental miscommunications occurring due to the flow of information through a long chain of employees. Accessibility of documents anywhere without the limitation of place and time makes document control extremely convenient and useful for construction projects and collaborations.
3. Ease in Coordination
Given the different stakeholders in construction projects, effective document control management can make intergroup communication and coordination smoother, avoiding any delays or complications. If all employees and workers have access to a shared database of relevant documents, the workflow will have fewer hurdles.
4. Time Management
Having access to essential documents right when needed saves up a significant amount of time. This prevents delays and ensures the contracts are fulfilled within their deadlines.
Document control ensures documents’ ease of access for a smooth flow of various corresponding duties. Without document control, inconvenient searches through all of the documentation lowers the overall productivity of projects by taking up unnecessary time whenever one needs to refer to a piece of information.
Specific software programs allow businesses to set filters that are customized to their needs, which again minimizes time expenditure.
5. Management of Expenses
For starters, document management systems will eliminate all the paper expenses. Using software to manage numerous documents would make the workplace paperless, thus saving a considerable amount of money. The option of automation available in several document control software allows businesses to automatically implement processes, which reduces the chances of human error and the additional expenses incurred due to them.
How to Implement Document Control?
As discussed, document control saves time and money, reduces the chances of rework and human errors, manages smooth coordination, increases efficiency, and limits administrative burden. However, there are some factors one should consider when implementing document control.
First of all, the employees must be acquainted with the system and also trust its intelligence. Older employees used to working with the traditional system may not be very welcoming of the new system. Therefore, proper training should be provided to keep everyone abreast of the system and its features.
Secondly, it is fundamental that businesses evaluate their current workings of document control. Without measuring the current status of the system, one would not be aware of the areas of improvement. Evaluating the current system on the basis of accessibility, ease of handling, security, and other important factors is a must.
Thirdly, accepting the new system, going paperless, maintaining workflows, using automation options are some of the other steps one should consider when implementing document control.
Challenges to Document Control
In order to implement a successful document control system, internet connectivity is a fundamental requirement. Places with poor internet connectivity would not be able to fetch the recently-updated version of documents. Moreover, a centralized system would also not work with poor internet connectivity.
2. Issues in Accessibility
An onsite construction worker may not have access to a similar kind of technology as an executive located in the company's headquarters. This is especially true for digital management systems. Therefore, any document control system should be designed to be backed up and used by people from different hierarchies without any hassle.
3. Legal Issues
Technical or logistical errors in documentation and paperwork can lead to legal disputes for the construction company, resulting in loss of time and money. A document control management system ensures that the legal aspect is thoroughly examined as well. Certain software packages are also available to help meet this objective.
Document control in construction projects is implemented across many verticals. In case of any errors or confusion, it can be difficult to hold one individual or team accountable if the document control system is not appropriately managed. While implementing such a system, it is imperative that an individual be assigned to oversee the management of the system and is answerable in case of any lapses.