Projects of all sizes face an overwhelming amount of construction documentation. Forms. Contracts. Reports. Plans. Permits. The list goes on and on.
Legacy pen-and-paper-based systems lead to outdated, disconnected, and even chaotic information. Thankfully, pen and paper are on the way out of the industry. Still, without good digital systems in place, the task of managing all those documents can get very overwhelming and chaotic.
Consider this: searching for documents consumes around 35% of all construction professionals’ time, and research shows that non-optimal activities like this cost the construction industry over $175 billion in labor expenses annually. That’s a lot of time and money.
Fortunately, there are several tools that can help with document control. If you’re currently managing paperwork using manual or disjointed processes, do yourself (and your entire team) a big favor and leverage a more comprehensive document management system that lets you stay on top of all your construction docs with ease.
Looking for more best-practices for construction document control? Get 10 effective tips in our blog.
What to look for in a document management system
Not all document management systems are created equal. If you want to streamline your processes and get a better handle on all project-related paperwork, be sure to keep an eye out for the following features and capabilities:
Common Data Environment (CDE)
A CDE serves as a central, cloud-based system that enables you to collect, store, manage, and disseminate construction documents throughout the entire project lifecycle. Having a CDE is highly beneficial, given that construction projects experience multiple phases and teams need to constantly stay aligned.
When all your documents live in one place, stakeholders can access the info they need to execute quickly, so the project can move forward in a timely manner.
Your document management system must make information easy to find. In addition to offering storage and organization features, the solution you choose should offer robust search capabilities so users can quickly locate the data and documents they need.
Ideally, your solution should have features like optical character recognition (OCR)—a technology that converts typed, handwritten, or printed text into machine-encoded text. An OCR-powered system can scan documents, sheets, tags, and models, making it a breeze to search through various documents and file types.
Automation and AI (Artificial Intelligence)
There’s a reason traditional document management takes so much time: there are a lot of steps involved—including uploading, naming, tagging, and organizing files.
In some cases, stakeholders also need to review and approve documentation. Performing these tasks manually doesn’t just eat up hours of your team’s time, it also introduces room for human error.
That’s why you should select a system that can intelligently automate the tedious tasks involved in document management. For example, some solutions can automatically tag your photos, making it simpler to organize, find, and retrieve images.
Construction projects are incredibly dynamic, often requiring some team members to work on-the-go or go back and forth between the office and the field.
As such, you need a mobile-friendly solution that can keep up with you. That way, you have all the documents you need in your pocket and can retrieve them no matter where you are, rather than forcing you back to the office or trailer to find a computer.
Flexible permission levels
Permissions and access to data should be handled on a case-by-case basis. Certain materials must be kept confidential, while other documents should be shared with the broader team.
To that end, set your sights on a document management platform that lets you strike the perfect balance between data security and accessibility. Choose a solution that offers flexible controls so you can grant and restrict access to particular individuals or based on each team member’s role and responsibilities.
It’s fine to use multiple apps for managing documents, if your apps integrate with each other. Whichever solutions you choose, see to it that the systems can seamlessly connect and data flows automatically between them.
In doing so, you can keep your documents in sync, rather than dealing with duplicates and outdated info.
Top tech solutions for construction document management
Now that we’ve covered what to look for in a construction document management system, let’s go over some of the top solutions in the market.
Autodesk Docs supports your document management needs across all phases of the project. Whether you’re viewing and organizing 2D and 3D designs or need to put together turnover documentation, Autodesk Docs has you covered.
The solution also offers intuitive document control capabilities, including structured folders as well as filter and search tools. Autodesk Docs makes collaboration a breeze thanks to built-in sharing, reviews, and markup capabilities. And with robust permission tools, you can promote better team collaboration without compromising file security.
Migrating documents and files can be quite difficult, particularly if you have a lot of them. But thanks to Cloudsfer, data migration doesn’t have to be a pain. Whether you’re moving from an on-premise solution to the cloud or need to migrate files from one cloud platform to another, Cloudsfer can help you copy, transfer, or backup your files instantly.
It also offers multi-user migration to get your entire team onto your new system faster. Cloudsfer lets you maintain your original user permissions and security levels, so they’re effortlessly carried over to the new system.
Cloudsfer recently launched a new solution for syncing construction projects data into various integrations. Cloudsfer sync allows consumption of real time events while mirroring data into your desire target.
Plus, the software gives you full control over how to handle files that already exist in your target cloud system to prevent duplicates.
And, if you’re using multiple apps to store or manage your files, you’ll be pleased to know that Cloudsfer connects with various solutions—including leading construction software—which means you can migrate data across different solutions.
Getting the right people to sign the necessary construction documents is a must in construction. Projects often can’t move forward without the required signatures in place, which is why teams must find ways to streamline the process of reviewing and approving documents.
DocuSign helps you do just that by enabling you to implement eSignatures. There’s no need to print or mail out paperwork. With DocuSign, signatures are handled digitally, making it easy for all parties to review and sign paperwork, even on mobile devices on-the-go.
For best results, connect DocuSign to your construction management platform so, you can easily send and upload signed documents right from your construction software.
Do you manage project documents using multiple apps? DADO can help you stay organized. Simply connect all your data sources (including your storage platform and construction management system) then train the software on how your documents should be managed by configuring your workflows, review levels, and more.
DADO is extremely mobile-friendly and even has voice-activated capabilities that let you search for files simply by voicing out your needs. Think of the feature as a mobile AI assistant like Siri or Alexa; simply tell DADO what you need (e.g., “show me the latest HVAC documents”) and the app will retrieve the documents for you.
360 Sync – Applied Software
Another great tool for teams using multiple systems in their projects, Applied Software’s 360 Sync streamlines file and document management by letting you synchronize project files to and from various applications.
Just set up your documents’ sources and destinations, then schedule when you want your files to sync. 360 Sync works in the background and makes file management automatic. That way, you don’t have to spend hours manually transferring docs and dealing with duplicated or outdated info.
To get the most out of the software, be sure to identify all your file sources and integrate 360 Sync with your construction management solution so all your documents are kept in check.
If you and your team use Outlook, check out eFiler—an email filing solution that uses predictive filing capabilities to automate how you organize and manage project-related emails.
The solution files messages together with other client and project documents, making it simple to organize information. eFiler also has an indexed email search feature, which cuts down the time it takes to find specific messages and attachments.
To get the most out of eFiler, integrate it with the software you use to manage your construction projects. Doing so will enable the app to file project emails to your system, so you can spend less time searching your inbox and devote more energy towards high-value activities.
Autodesk Construction Cloud Connect
Autodesk Construction Cloud Connect (ACC Connect) allows project stakeholders to build custom workflows between Autodesk Construction Cloud and hundreds of other systems.
For example, ACC Connect allows you to customize and automate the aggregation of data from disparate document sources such as Box, Egnyte, or Microsoft SharePoint, and brings those documents into Autodesk Construction Cloud. And conversely, it can automatically export project files from Autodesk Construction Cloud into cloud storage solutions for archival and backup purposes, while standardizing the way in which the data is synced, organized, and formatted.
When you’re collaborating with various teams and companies across multiple solutions, ProjectReady can help everyone stay on the same page. The solution offers an Integrated Data Environment (IDE) to enable cross-platform collaboration—without the headaches.
ProjectReady makes data accessible across different platforms and automates data synchronization, project management, and workflows. It integrates with leading construction software and can help all stakeholders stay connected no matter what programs they’re using.
Control your docs
Just because projects involve a lot of documentation, doesn’t mean you have to bury yourself under a mountain of digital paperwork. By adopting robust solutions, you can stay organized, find the info you need faster, and ultimately make faster progress with your projects.
Ready to get better construction document control? Learn more about Autodesk Docs.