Orange County, California marks our last stop in our Virtual Travel Series. To celebrate Infrastructure Week, we have been “traveling” across the US to meet the people and projects shaping the future of American transportation. Today, we speak to Sherrie Kapssof, Project Document Control Manager at Walsh.
Sherrie is a part of the OC Streetcar project, a light rail line currently under construction in Orange County, California, running through the cities of Santa Ana and Garden Grove. As a technology driven initiative, Sherrie has led the charge to centralize a documentation system for the entire project. Her perfectionist mindset and willingness to step outside her comfort zone has benefited the entire project team, allowing them to access and find information more efficiently. Below, she shares more about her role at Walsh, her experience working on rail projects, and technology’s role in creating successful document control systems.
Tell us about your role at Walsh. What’s your day to day like?
My role at Walsh Construction is the Project Document Control Manager, which includes all documents incoming and outgoing between Walsh and our Owner (including subcontractors) gets processed by myself and managed how they need to be. I have been given the pleasure of not only handling incoming/outgoing requests, but also managing configuration, which is such an important task on any construction project. Being able to receive drawings and keep them up to date is crucial and using a program, such as PlanGrid, has really allowed me to create a system so organized and quick to access any document in the blink of an eye.
Each day is different, which keeps things interesting. I have my usual routine, but I don’t always have the same tasks as the previous day. On my downtime, I chip away at a list of tasks I have created to help organize and support the project all the way through the end.
Tell us more about your work on the OC Streetcar project. Why has this been an exciting project to work on?
The most exciting part of this journey was being able to start fresh from the beginning of a project and completely design a system that I knew would not only benefit myself, but for everyone on the project. This was something completely outside of my comfort zone because I’ve never used a system like PlanGrid, let alone putting together a system for an entire project. Like that saying, you can’t grow if you’re comfortable! On other jobs, I’ve usually had a system already put into place and all I needed to do was learn it and run with it. In this case, I got to create it, which was awesome!
My ultimate goal was to structure a system that would be as user-friendly as possible.
It needed to be easy to navigate and find exactly what is being looked for in a timely manner, since time is of the essence. With that, I was able to expand on my creativity beyond what I thought I was even capable of and had so much fun while doing it! I’ve always had the perfectionist mindset in anything I do, which would sometimes drive me insane, but I think it definitely supported me on this project.
Can you share how you use technology on this project? How has it helped enable your team to be successful?
This project is centered around technology, so it plays such a key role in so many different parts of the project. Unlike the older days when paper was heavily relied on, we can now rely on a more promising tool such as technology and it has made it unbelievably easy to access anything at any time. On this project, our superintendents and foremen carry iPads with them out into the field to view any sheet and document that is needed. Everything is so accessible and quick, which saves so much time. There’s no need to waste time flipping through pages and pages when you can make a few clicks and have what you’re looking for right on the screen.
What has been your experience like working on rail projects?
I have experienced two completely different types of document control on the rail projects I’ve worked on. The last project I was on was a very large one. I hopped on board toward the middle of the project and began my journey in Document Control. In the three years I was there, I realized how complicated it was to find documents and how much time it took just to get to them. Being so far into the project, you can’t exactly restart everything and start from scratch, especially when it’s already pushing more than 10,000 documents in the system, not including what’s being processed each day alone. What’s made that fulfilling to me is understanding what a project needs to be organized and accessible, but most importantly, successful. I took what I learned and was able to apply it to this project, which has made it a successful document control system.
What has your experience been like working on infrastructure projects during COVID?
Work-wise, everything has pretty much stayed the same. Being in Document Control, no matter what happens, there is always work, so in that aspect, nothing has changed. The workloads have not lessened or grown any differently than a regular day. Being in the office is a completely new world though. It was difficult to get used to in the beginning of the pandemic, but now it has become second nature.
Unlike many of the non-essential jobs, we are beyond thankful we still have the opportunity to work and support ourselves and our families at home, so if that means we need to wear a mask and practice social distancing, we would gladly choose that.
What is one essential thing that you would take with you on a road trip?
I’m definitely a sentimental person and memories are so unbelievably important to me. With that being said, I would take my digital camera. I don’t own a professional camera, but a good digital camera would do the job for me! Sometimes, the phone cameras just don’t cut it. I do enjoy taking pictures, but it’s more than just a photo when you look at it. Just by looking at a photo, you can pull all the special moments and feelings that happened before, during, and even after that photo was taken.
What’s one place you cannot wait to travel to once things get back to some normalcy?
Definitely Australia. Being in a long distance relationship is not easy, but being in a long distance relationship while a pandemic is going on throughout the world is a whole different level. We are definitely anxious for this to be over with and back to normal.