The one constant on any construction project is change. The end result of a completed building, roadway or other structure is almost never exactly how it was drawn up in the beginning. Once building begins, plans, specs and drawings are tweaked as efficiencies are noted, errors are corrected or work gets completed throughout the process.
That’s why effectively managing these changes is crucial to contractors’ success. When different team members are using different sets of drawings, mistakes or execution errors are likely to occur, and when these do happen the entire project could be delayed while the issues are sorted out or, worse yet, costly rework has to be done.
These mistakes and delays can have a significant impact on your bottom line as a contractor — and leave your clients unimpressed with your teams’ abilities to manage projects.
The Problem with Paper
Paper has been the traditional format for plans, specs and drawings in construction. Aside from the obvious issues of being wasteful and bad for the environment, reliance on paper can lead to a host of other pitfalls:
• Paper documents run a high risk of getting lost or misplaced, especially in the field. Ever see what a strong wind can do to a set of blueprints? An entire project can come to a screeching halt while paper plans are replaced. Many project managers or supervisors keep a duplicate set of plans in field offices, but even those can get lost, or if changes were made to the current set that was being used, the backup may not reflect these.
• Documents on paper often get marked up in pen or pencil by field crews — often to the point of becoming unreadable. Misreading figures or measurements can lead to a costly mistake that takes hours to fix and further thwarts job progress.
• Unlike modern technology tools like a smartphone or tablet, paper drawing booklets, blueprints and other documents can be hard to transport – and require their own space and protection from the elements in the field. Paper also provides poor portability between the office and field, as physical documents need to be hand delivered between, costing valuable time and leaving the potential for lost or misplaced documents.
• As one project manager noted during a conference a few years back, “it ain’t cheap.” Printing out reams of paper for teams of workers in the field and back office alike can carry a more costly price tag than most people think. Depending on the size and scope of projects, contractors can spend anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars in reprographics and other printing and paper costs. Not to mention the space needed and additional costs to sort and archive paper documents.
Digitized Documents … AND Integrated Technology
Thankfully many contractors have — or are starting the process of — digitizing their operations. Technology has advanced to the point where construction documents are made easily readable and portable via electronic means. The internet’s use as a viable business and collaboration tool has allowed contractors to view, markup and share documents of any size and format, whether workers are in the back office on a workstation, traveling or working remotely on a laptop or at the jobsite on a tablet or smartphone device. The ability to physically markup these documents to change measurements, add comments and more has been especially helpful — effectively replacing any need for paper in the process. And, these documents can be shared collaboratively in real-time, allowing entire project teams to see progress and work from the same data at all times.
However, digital document and drawing management solutions are still limited unless they’re fully integrated with back-office software, project management and collaboration solutions and other technologies in the field. Having disconnected systems and technologies means you’re still spending countless hours reconciling data between systems or maintaining API connecters between solutions that can break or fail when systems are updated or altered.
By deploying a completely integrated, cloud-based construction ERP that provides accounting, project management, document management and field management, contractors are ensured that when changes are made to drawings and specs, these changes trigger automatic workflows that update everything from job costs to material and equipment tracking data to job progress reporting and beyond — all immediately so that all teams have the most updated information.
Watch this short video on Viewpoint Team to learn how an integrated solution can simplify work around drawings and other project documents.
Want to know more? Contact us today to schedule your very own personalized demo.