Document management is the buzzword in construction today. Every construction company has at least one system to share files, photos, drawings and schedules securely, efficiently and easily within the project team. But is this system really secure and efficient? And is it a document management system at all?
Unfortunately, things still go wrong on a regular basis with document management in construction. We list the six most common mistakes, so you don’t have to make them again.
1. Your document management system is not a document management system
There are big differences between the degree of digitisation within construction companies. For example, one company has only just started selecting a document management system. While another company is already running a lot of processes digitally, where all processes are transparent and in order.
For those companies still in the early stages of digitisation, there sometimes is a lack of clarity as to what exactly a document management system is. For example, builders share their documents via Google Drive or WeTransfer and think that this means they are working with a document management system. Well, that is not the case. Sharing files in this way can work fine in itself. Especially if you do not have too large files and do not need to share anything very often. But it is not a document management system.
2. You use your document management system as a storage system
A document management system (DMS) is much more than just a system to store or send documents. The document management system is an innovative platform on which different project members, both internal and external, can collaborate easily and securely. The core of the document management system is document sharing with external parties and joint document management. This involves automatic version management.
A document management system is essential in the construction industry. Especially because there you work on projects where you always have to rely on the latest version of a document, plan or blueprint. After all, if a contractor starts working with an outdated version of a blueprint, the consequences in terms of budget and planning can be huge. Through a document management system, all construction partners work together in centrally stored documents. This way, you can always be sure you are dealing with the most up-to-date version.
With a good document management system, you can guarantee the security of your data.
3. There is insufficient focus on safety
Whatever system you use, security is central to it. Or at least, it should be. When you share documents via download platforms like WeTransfer or Dropbox, via WhatsApp or e-mail, you are never completely guaranteed optimal security.
With a good document management system, you can guarantee the security of your data. You send your files via a secure link with an expiry date. You can also assign authorisations, roles and rights per document. For example, you can specify which people or teams have which rights per document or folder. Can they only read, or also edit a document and how long is the link valid? You decide all this yourself. If you prefer maximum security, you can secure your documents with a password and encrypt them by default when sharing or sending them.
4. You are not getting the most out of your document management system
A document management system offers plenty of useful features to make your processes run more smoothly and your construction projects faster, and therefore more cost-efficient. Hence, it is an eternal waste if you do not make use of all these possibilities.
A good document management system provides you with all the tools you need to digitise, structure, manage and share internal and external documents. By collaborating with internal and external partners on the platform, you can work together, on and in the same documents, regardless of location. Moreover, you can set up workflows for the automatic flow of files. So you don’t have to visit Peter from the planning department or Sarah from the budgets every time. All parties involved automatically receive a signal and can take immediate action.
The rule of thumb is: if it is about the project, then share information exclusively through the document management system.
5. You communicate outside the document management system
A document management system is an ideal collaboration platform. It is therefore unnecessary and also undesirable to communicate with project members via other channels. About the project, of course. Asking someone how he is doing or congratulating him on his birthday is something you should keep doing.
It becomes a different story when, for example, you also send e-mails or messages about adjusted plans or new ideas. This runs the risk of information getting lost in the process, or not reaching the people who need to be informed. The rule of thumb is simple: if it is about the project, you only share information via the document management system.
6. The basics are not in order
Just like with the paper archive, the same applies to the document management system: the basics have to be in order. In that old-fashioned archive, all the files and boxes were in a certain order. You do the same in your document management system.
So choose a clear folder structure and clear naming. This makes it easy to retrieve documents. Extra useful: you can also give your documents tags and metadata. This makes them even easier to find for the project manager. You can find files by name, as well as by attribute, file type, content or date.
Working with a document management system has many advantages. You work faster, smarter, more efficiently and cheaper. So pay time and attention to selecting and setting up your system and don’t make the mistakes mentioned above. That way, you will already have a one-zero head start.