What is a Document Management System (DMS)?

..And what are the benefits?

Managing increasingly complex information flows and providing insight into them, is a major challenge these days. Especially now that we are increasingly working remotely. In the construction industry, there is an additional factor. It is a sector in which many different parties and persons are involved in the execution of a project. Think, for example, of architects, contractors, subcontractors, project managers, construction workers, transporters and the suppliers of various materials.

Therefore, you cannot do without a tool that organises information and ensures that the right data ends up with the right people. A DMS (document management system) does exactly that. But what exactly is a DMS? And what are the main advantages of such a solution? You can read it in this article.

What is a DMS?

A DMS is a specialised software solution that helps you to structure the flow of information that floods your construction company every day. A DMS automates the management of documents in a way that guarantees optimal availability of documents and the information they contain. 

A DMS supports or contains solutions for digitising, editing, organising, distributing, searching, retrieving and (possibly) destroying documents. In a DMS, you can make documents easy to find and scan, by providing them with tags and metadata. These tags provide the user with information about file characteristics such as content, author, status, category and date. Good document management systems are also equipped with functionalities for better version management. This way, everyone knows that they are working with the latest and correct version of a file, at any time.

Why a DMS? The biggest advantages

There are various reasons why a DMS is necessary in the digital age. Time to take a closer look at the most important advantages of such a solution.

Less fragmented information

The information that organisations or people involved in a project have, is often spread across many different systems (silos) that are managed separately. In addition, it usually involves a colourful variety of file formats (PDF, Word, Excel, graphic files). A DMS eliminates this fragmentation by creating one central information environment for all your documents and data. Everything can be found in the same place, accessible to anyone with the right rights and login details.

Everyone works with the same, up-to-date version, so that you exclude misunderstandings and miscommunication. Sharing knowledge also becomes more fun and easier, allowing you to carry out projects faster and better.

Fewer operations

A DMS also helps you to reduce the number of manual and error-sensitive operations. Spending hours retrieving, retyping, manually sending, printing and copying documents? Forget about it. With a DMS, your files are always available via all channels. You automatically forward documents to the right people, without constantly having to call or e-mail back and forth.

Better archiving

A DMS also improves the quality of your archive. You can easily link documents to a specific project or theme. Think, for example, of grouping technical information in one folder system, while putting information about legislation and regulations in another place. This makes documents easier and faster to trace, saving time and money.

Paperless working

With a DMS, you can work largely paperless. So those bulging files are gone. A digital DMS is not only easier to search than a paper archive, it is also better for the environment because you save heavily on paper. And don’t forget the extra space that becomes available in the office..

A DMS on construction sites is indispensable.
A DMS on construction sites is indispensable.

Prostream: a DMS by and for the construction industry

A DMS is therefore extremely useful. Document management systems are available as stand-alone solutions, but sometimes also as part of a broader software package. Think, for example, of a system that also provides ERP and CRM functionalities. What you do see, is that many document management systems are fairly generic. They contain general functionality for document classification, version management and the efficient sharing and storing of information, but lack certain important elements that are essential for specialist sectors such as the construction industry. 

Prostream combines the general with the specific: all the functionality and features you would expect from a good general DMS, combined with a number of features that are specifically aimed at the challenges and needs of construction companies. Think about the following: 

  • The ability to send large files quickly and easily. Examples of this are MB eaters, such as CAD drawings, building models and 3D drawings. 
  • Ensuring quality with snags. Do you see deviations in a blueprint? Then easily place a snag on the blueprint to make the problem clear to everyone. You can create different snag templates for different findings. For example a defect, proposed improvement or request for information. 
  • Various possibilities for shielding files and documents according to your own preferences. This prevents subcontractors, for example, from seeing documents that are only intended for the management team.
  • A built-in BIM viewer (the Autodesk Forge 3D Viewer) with which you can check the properties of all objects in a model against the calculations made. In addition, it is possible to view the individual elements of a building in detail, by virtually splitting the drawn construction into different parts. Making cross-sections of the 3D model or taking a virtual walk through a building are also possible.

With a good DMS, you lift your document and information management to the next level. Storing, processing, classifying and sharing data and files becomes easier and takes place in a central environment.

Read the next article: “What is quality assurance and why is it important?