With document management software for construction companies, builders can focus on projects, not paperwork.
When construction companies are building everything from bungalows to skyscrapers, they produce all kinds of paperwork. According to a study from YouGov and Re-flow, United Kingdom construction workers spend 91 hours per employee on essential paperwork each year. This time costs employers £1,500 (approximately $1,800 USD) per employee and contributes to the third-highest insolvency rate in the country.
With those numbers, it’s no surprise that builders are looking for ways to streamline their paper processes. That’s where document management for construction companies can make a difference. Read on to learn about the systems and software that make paperwork far easier to handle.
Find the best document management solutions for your business with our guide, The complete guide to document management systems.
Why document management for construction matters
Before, during, and immediately following each project, construction companies have an extensive list of regulations to follow, each of which has associated paperwork. That includes approved blueprints, information requests, change orders, and communication with stakeholders. Even once the project is finished, each document must be preserved and archived in case of further review.
Traditionally, construction companies needed to produce, deliver, and store each document physically. These efforts were not without the risk of paperwork becoming lost or misfiled. Thankfully, modern technology exists to make the process easier and more efficient — digital scanners, cloud-based document storage systems, and software for electronically filing digital documents are all vital tools for building pros. The only question is which combination of techniques best supports each organization.
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What do builders need from document management systems?
The first thing to remember is that construction projects are highly complex. Most require careful collaboration between multiple parties, from urban planning departments to private offices. One way document management software for construction companies can help is by centralizing all information in a convenient format accessible to stakeholders through an app or email link. This convenience is also compatible with modern security practices, making files accessible to specific individuals or protecting them with passwords.
These features are crucial because of how often plans shift during a project. Drawings can receive updates or change orders, clients can adjust the scope of work, and that’s before tackling unexpected on-site challenges. In addition, digital document management tools help ensure that everyone has the latest version of each file, along with a documented history that summarizes each development phase.
Finally, there are storage considerations. Regulatory processes demand that all planning records be stored for years after a project’s completion, but available space is at a premium. Digital solutions can support file management tools and metadata capabilities that preserve files and prevent them from becoming lost. Most digital documentation systems require little more than hard drive storage, but electronic filing software and cloud storage can make these processes more convenient for builders and stakeholders.
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Key features of construction-centric document management systems
Like in any industry using document management software (DMS), construction professionals benefit considerably when making the jump from physical to digital document storage and organization. That said, builders should always take care to choose or assemble a DMS that meets the unique needs of their industry. That might mean using a broad cloud service to store, upload, and edit, or turning to an industry-specific all-in-one solution designed with construction companies in mind.
Here’s what construction businesses should consider when choosing a DMS:
Most construction companies are not fully digital — they use a hybrid combination of physical and digital documents, usually when differentiating between on-site and office-based tasks. In these cases, scanning existing paperwork to internal or cloud-based storage drives should ensure that files are preserved, secure, and easy to find.
Not every DMS has a digitization feature built-in, so in that case, the main challenge is settling on the right hardware. Construction documents run the gamut in sizes, from standard letter to ANSI E blueprint paper, which makes a large format scanner mandatory. The next consideration is the volume of documents, often requiring an automated feeder that can process hundreds of pages as one task. Finally, builders benefit when scanners automatically apply metadata to each file, such as a project designation ID number, making it easy to find the document later.
There is no shortage of cloud-based storage solutions available in today’s market, most of which can meet professional builders’ storage requirements. Even better, most are owned and managed by recognizable brands like Google, Microsoft, and DropBox.
Google Drive is the most widely used option, although construction companies must pay for a business plan to gain the necessary storage space. DropBox also provides electronic filing for teams of any size, with options to share, lock, and recover files or even gain a dedicated customer success manager. Finally, for especially large organizations, Microsoft SharePoint offers a robust set of enterprise-grade management tools that are on par with running a private intranet.
For some construction businesses, the right approach to document management is an all-in-one platform designed with the industry in mind. While this approach doesn’t always help when digitizing physical paperwork, it can ensure that new documents are stored under a consistent process that most end users can understand. More importantly, document management is usually just one feature of these platforms — most allow companies to monitor additional processes relating to planning and construction.
- CoConstruct offers a range of construction management tools for home building and remodeling companies. On the document management front, employees can access project photos, videos, and related paperwork remotely from a smartphone app. CoConstruct also includes tools for client communication, estimates, job progress reports, and project tracking.
- PlanGrid is for commercial and industrial builders who want to store construction documents and work on them from a digital interface. Along with cloud-based blueprint viewing, construction employees can mark up files, manage version control metadata, and collaborate with team members on files.
- Raken is a construction management platform designed to streamline project development. It provides a suite of on-site reporting tools, complete with notes and photos, to ensure the building process is well-documented. While Raken is limited in terms of more robust file storage, it has partnered with cloud solutions like Egnyte to provide storage and access for paperwork from each development stage.
Focus on development projects, not paperwork
The implementation of document management for construction companies helps builders spend less time dealing with paperwork so they can give their full attention to each project. And yet, choosing or assembling the right system can still be challenging. We take great pride in having spent the last 50+ years researching, designing and developing some of the most advanced and powerful electronics in the world, including our professional grade fi and SP Series scanners.
Built to purpose for the most demanding document handling jobs, the fi and SP Series scanners are capable of processing tens-of-thousands of pages per day at the highest levels of accuracy. Their intuitive integration capabilities with all existing work suites minimize time-to-value for businesses looking to invest in tools that will pay dividends for years to come. Click here to learn more or shop the rest of our production scanner line.