Digital Document Management in the Construction Industry

March 13, 2023
| Originally Published

Proper document management is essential for companies of all sizes in the construction industry. Many construction companies have taken the first step and transitioned from paper-based to digital construction document management systems. Still, many continue to host their document management system on in-house servers and have yet to solve their remaining document storage and accessibility challenges. Making the change to a cloud-based construction document management system is the key to clear and easy cross-team collaboration and communication. Read more to learn about document management systems.

Pros and cons of using in-house servers for construction document management

Using in-house digital servers is a step up from paper-based document management. They serve as a central repository of documents with easy searching capabilities. Transitioning from paper-based systems to in-house servers will bring construction companies advantages like increased efficiency and security, cost savings, better accessibility, and easier regulatory compliance management.

However, using in-house servers for construction document management is not without its limitations, including:

  • a substantial upfront investment for servers and licenses,
  • low scalability as the business’s needs grow,
  • ongoing maintenance requirements for data backup and disaster recovery.

Most importantly, in-house servers limit document access to only those working in the office - meaning those in the field need to physically visit the office to get the information they need. If this doesn’t feel like a big deal for efficiency and time spent, consider that project managers and field supervisors spend an average of 5.5 hours a week simply looking for project data/information. This means in terms of annual cost impact, accessing information costs the average construction company upwards of $16,000/year per individual.

Another challenge with in-house servers is version confusion. As revisions occur, multiple versions of documents are created. If foremen, field supervisors, and subcontractors aren’t aware of these changes or are given immediate access to plan updates, this can easily lead to errors and expensive rework if crews consult an outdated document. On fixed-price contracts, this could effectively wipe out any profits.

Advantages of cloud-based construction document management

Cloud-based document management systems allow accessibility of the system through the internet, granting access to any user regardless of their location — all they need is an internet connection. This is a game-changer for the construction industry, considering so much of the work happens outside of the office on job sites and in remote areas.

Cloud-based systems offer several advantages over traditional on-premise systems, including:

  1. Accessibility: Cloud-based systems can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection, making it easy for team members to access documents regardless of location.
  2. Collaboration: Cloud-based platforms remain the height of collaborative technology; authorized users can edit or comment on documents from anywhere using a mobile device.
  3. Real-time communication: Cloud-based platforms leverage mobile technology to seamlessly connect the office and the field, allowing real-time communication between teams so work can continue as planned.
  4. Scalability: Cloud-based systems can be scaled up or down as needed, making it easy for construction companies to adjust their document management capabilities based on their changing needs.
  5. Cost-efficiency: Cloud-based systems typically have lower upfront costs and can be more cost-effective over the long term as businesses only pay for the storage and services they need.
  6. Automatic backups: Cloud-based systems typically include automatic backups, ensuring that documents are always safe and can be easily restored in the event of a disaster.

With a cloud-based construction management software like Civalgo, construction document management is integrated into a larger system that allows construction companies to schedule and dispatch teams, track productivity and project costs, manage site safety, automate payroll, and communicate in real time between the office and the field. Learn more.

Transitioning to cloud-based construction management software

There really is no contest between on-premise document management systems and cloud-based systems. The benefits, especially in an industry as fast-paced and complex as the construction industry, far outweigh any disadvantages.

That said, transitioning away from legacy systems is never without effort, and you should be prepared to face a few challenges, the most common being:

  1. Employee buy-in: Employees may be resistant to change and reluctant to give up familiar processes. Proper training and education on the benefits of digital document management can help ease the transition.
  2. Integration: Businesses may need to integrate their cloud-based construction document management system with other systems and applications. To avoid too many complications, choose a cloud-based construction management software that can be integrated with any SaaS application or service.
  3. Security: Businesses need to ensure that their construction document management system is secure and that sensitive documents are properly protected.
  4. Cost: While cloud-based construction software is cost-effective over the long term, upfront costs are usually associated with the transition.

Before choosing any cloud-based construction management software, it’s a good idea to test it first. Many software providers, like Civalgo cloud-based construction software, will let you book a free demo or even sign up for a free trial.

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