Construction Document Search: Expectations vs Reality
Binders, photocopies and rolled up drawing sets. How do we successfully stay on top of our projects while still dealing with shifting schedules and change orders? Before the ‘digital age’ the Binder was the single source of truth, which was often out of date by the end of the week if not sooner.
Innovations in document management are largely non-existent and are often almost an after-thought. In this DADO post, we dive into the expectations and the harsh reality of document management.
Expectation: Incoming Construction Documentation at Light Speed.
Today’s project teams have access to unlimited sources of information and communicate at the speed of light. Unfortunately, the notion of sharing information freely to everyone on your team is still elusive. Documents and the data contained therein is still locked away in some big file, or a deep folder structure that is often mis-placed or worse overlooked.
“As subcontractors we’re beholden to the GC and as a result, we managing an ever changing stack of systems that vary from job to job." - Ryan Hoggatt, University Mechanical Contractors, Inc.
Reality: It is high time document management joined us in the digital realm.
Digitization is here, yet its benefits are not fully realized, especially for those in the field. An unintended result of all this digitization is that while it is really easy to store information, it is tremendously difficult to find key project details once it enters into the file structure abyss. With the ease of storing massive amounts of information in the cloud, we easily can spread it, and unintentionally hoard it, across as many as 3 or more systems or buried in folders 7 or more levels deep. With all this innovation, our project teams are well overdue for a solution to effectively retrieve the mission critical information they need to ensure efficient jobsite performance.
Expectation: The Field Has Come To Accept an Inefficient New “Normal”.
In the field, Foremen, Journeymen and Apprentices are asked to be proficient in navigating information storage systems while on the jobsite, which can be cumbersome on a computer – let alone a smartphone or tablet. We’ve come to accept this as “normal”, but there is much to improve upon.
Reality: The Only Whiff of Any Kind of Document Management Lies Within Office Administration.
Innovations in document management are largely non-existent and are often almost an after-thought. There are “solutions” embedded in ERP/Accounting systems whose primary audience are office workers and whose primary function is not document management.
Expectation: A Deep Sea of Drone Footage, 3D Models, Laser Scans, etcetera, etcetera.
It’s easy to be enchanted by shiny things like Drones, 3D Models, and Laser Scanning. At the end of the day, will it save a Journeyman from the pain of getting the latest set of plans so they can actually build?
Somehow the notion of innovation in our industry forgot that no matter how great your design is someone needs to ultimately build it, and unless they have ESP they will need correct, most up-to-date documents. The only solution, aside from ESP, is an intelligent document management system (DMS) driven by a high performance search engine.
"I go on a scavenger hunt, because I take bits and pieces and then have to put them together to make a model that works, and I can’t just choose my own pieces, they have to be submitted and approved by an engineer, etc. So I’m always looking for parts and pieces.” – Curt Reece, Andy J Egan
Reality: A Properly Used DMS is a Useful Risk Mitigation Tool
Access to relevant and latest documents are critical for project success, yet the ability to traverse these disjointed silos is still very painful. There is always an opportunity for error, especially when a change to plans and specs can create a massive impact if constructed based on out-of-date information. With the ongoing labor shortages, tighter budgets, impending schedules and shrinking payroll, a DMS that works both in the office and in the field is an effective way to streamline communication and prevent rework. We’re all used to Google as a great search tool to find any and all information, so why not apply a DMS tool to your construction project toolkit?
Ultimately, the expectation is that our project teams are intuitively good at building folder structures and DMS internally; a company can ad hoc a solution that may work “just enough”, but the reality is that is not usually the case. Because of all this digitization we’ve got information everywhere. It’s coming from multiple sources and stored across different platforms and programs.
What are your challenges with finding the right information at the right time? Please share your experiences with us in the comments section provided below.
DADO stops your scavenger hunt. Our software uses intuitive voice-to-search technology. We’ve built DADO for the field, so you can access it from your phone, your tablet, or computer. You’re able to search across disjointed silos to find the information you need. A two-hour hunt for information is now only 2 minutes. Finding the right information for the first time lowers your risk for errors and rework, saving money and adding to your profits. This is the reality you should come to expect.