Documents are the lifeblood of a construction project. When a project requires document sharing and revision between different organizations, it’s critical that documents be managed uniformly through all phases of the project. This requires control of document numbering, revision, status, and transmittal, and the maintenance of an up-to-date document register.
Historically, document information has been kept in the registers of individual organizations engaged in construction projects. Spreadsheets and similar tools are used to record document number, title, status, scale, number of sheets, current version, and other details. Project participants may use internally hosted software for document, file or records management to maintain their document registers.
While these solutions may work well within a single organization, they have serious limitations for document control and collaboration between different organizations. Internal document registers tend to be static and updated only in response to revisions and transmittals, rather than being dynamically linked to the document control management process.
Increasing Complexity of Construction Projects
Today’s construction projects are becoming more complex due to a variety of factors. Participating organizations and individuals are often spread across multiple locations and even geographic regions. Project documents go through more revisions, more frequently, and cycle times are faster. In the Internet Age, stakeholders have increasing expectations that project information can be available anywhere, at any time.
Meeting these requirements is difficult, even impossible, with document control and document management systems that are owned or controlled by one organization and running on an internal network, behind a firewall. If these systems don’t support access and communication via web and mobile technology, then project team members can’t collaborate effectively across their respective organizations. As a result, project delivery and quality can be compromised.
Document Management Software for Better Control
The solution is document management software – built for multi-company collaboration – which is independent of any organization and therefore provides neutral access to all organizations. Using this software to generate and manage document registers avoids the silo effect by making documents available for review and update across the project team. Automatically updating registers on the upload or receipt of a document has several advantages over manual systems:
- Reduced likelihood of errors
- Real-time accuracy with systematic document numbering and revision control
- Faster, easier tracking of changes
- Reduced risk of confusion and inconsistency – and therefore schedule delays and cost overruns
- Reduced administrative burden on document controllers who would otherwise maintain their project registers manually
- Project-wide access to a complete and coordinated set of documents in one central location.
Examples of Document Control in Action
The Aconex platform provides comprehensive document management capabilities specifically for construction projects requiring collaboration between different organizations. Users can upload, register and transmit unlimited numbers of documents – of unlimited file sizes. The platform automatically creates a register of all documents uploaded or received, reducing manual data entry time and the associated risk of error for all participants.
New documents can be numbered manually or automatically on Aconex. Users are notified of duplicate document numbers entered manually and are prevented from registering the same document in more than one format without a file name suffix or other identification protocol.
Aconex helps project team members improve the efficiency of uploading documents through the use of upload profiles and file name recognition. Once documents are registered, they can be issued to other participants via transmittals, either individually or in packages. Organizations involved in the project can share proprietary documents without losing control or ownership of their information – thanks to a secure multi-tenant cloud architecture.
Aconex Clients on Document Control
“By using Aconex, we aim to make Asia Square a paperless project. From our end, there has been about a 70% reduction in printing. We have seen a big reduction in the time it takes to transmit drawings. Previously someone would need to package-up documents and enter the details into a document register spreadsheet – a somewhat cumbersome process. With Aconex, as soon as files are uploaded and transmitted electronically, they are instantly available to all parties to access at any time.”
MGPA (Asia Square, Singapore)
“Aconex provides a low-cost mechanism to exchange information. Document records are easily maintained and the system saves heaps of office space – we have about 10 CDs to store 40-45,000 documents. It now only takes us a few minutes to create, transmit and print a document. Tracking documentation is so much easier – there is no other way. Without the system, it would take so much more time. Aconex has an excellent document management system.”
Hansen Yuncken (Lyell McEwin Hospital Redevelopment, Australia)
“All users have access to the same project data, which reduces the risk of errors and delays, and all document versions and correspondence are captured permanently for fast, easy search. Using a single web-based platform with mobility has improved the efficiency and accuracy of our project information management from day one.”
QA_QC & LEED manager
J/V Impregilo-TERNA (Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, Greece)
“A major concern of our clients is that all the documentation for the entire project is 100% complete and accurate. Aconex provides the platform that makes it easy to do a complete handover at the end of the project.”
Vista Projects (Canada)
See Document Management Software for Yourself
Aconex has been used to manage documents and other project information and processes for more than 15,000 construction and engineering projects worldwide. See for yourself how the platform’s document control engine can help you reduce risk, improve efficiency and deliver high quality across even the most complex projects. Contact us today for a demo and talk to us about your document management challenges.
In the future, we’ll discuss another critical element of document management – version control.
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