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Mobile document management for construction sites

August 18th 2016

The volume of documents and communications in the construction industry is no secret.

In fact, few are those who minimize the administrative burden that directly impacts their projects' profitability.

Today's computer science offers us these quick and instant recipes, which are, on the surface, quite simple to implement.

Ultimately, the principle boils down to managing project documents and the exchange of information between project stakeholders. No?

On the surface, it seems that Windows® Explorer is very good at managing project documents, and emails with Microsoft® Outlook® are very good at communicating between stakeholders.

As always in informatics management, "on the surface" does not mean "easily or optimal in reality".

Although these basic technologies represent an excellent starting point in education, the next question quickly follows in a construction project context: Why are these enabling technologies not necessarily the optimal solution for sharing information and communicating in the world?

The answer lies on two levels:

  • Because of the complex and specific documentary structure that frames a construction project. This structure must support the standards and best practices of the sector (complexity of nature);
  • Because of the enormous volume of people likely to intervene simultaneously and share the same information on a project (number complexity).

These two types of complexity, therefore, call for compliance with certain fundamental principles regarding the architecture and the type of technological interface if we wish to optimize operational fluidity and efficiency:

  • Information and communications relating to the project must be centralized by project, for any document combined (quote, photo, estimate, plan, contract, permit, site notice, etc.), and any technical format (text, video, audio, image, PDF, etc.).

The analogy is simple: create the equivalent of the project's cardboard sleeve in computer form. Or, in other words, set up the "Paperless" project folder.

The principle of centralizing information is central here for structured data that can be shared quickly.

  • The management of sharing and access to information must be able to be carried out per project and, in a discretionary manner, per project stakeholder, without IT duplication of said stakeholder who can work on different projects.

Or in other words: You should not have to manage the basic contact details (last name, first name, address, cell phone, etc.) of a given worker in several places simply because they work on different projects.

Seemingly simple when you think about sending a document by email with Outlook®, this tool still requires a lot of manipulation to manage "who is entitled to which document". And what about the efforts for complex searches if you eventually need to quickly locate a response document, for example, from a given subcontractor?

  • Communications and document sharing must occur within a secure access framework incorporating traceability and confidentiality of document sharing. That is to say that you can always know "when and who saw a given document" or, even, "who said what at what time about a document (i.e., a plan) concerning the management of the project".
  • The communication and information sharing platform must be multidimensional, i.e. simultaneously allow internal and local management, management via the web and management via mobile devices (tablet, smartphone, etc.) for full integration with the construction site.

The mobility of your management is a key characteristic and very specific to the construction sector's context.

Some construction project management solutions, such as CTRL's, meet these essential criteria to set up an extremely effective document sharing platform for your business.

They usually come with a fully integrated CRM covering all management aspects specific to the construction industry while allowing your business to propel itself into the web and mobility age.

Standard Web portals allow you to extend and deploy your management to your sites quickly: remote consultation of plans, web timesheets, site orders and subcontracting, task management, etc.

All of these new technological possibilities are seamlessly integrated with the accounting, payroll, and project management foundations, strong foundations that will contribute to the quality of your projects and drive your growth.

Good management.

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