How To Organize Your Construction Project Files easily and secure: document structure example and key takeaways
Congratulations! You are one of the few contractors who will implement a document management system, or at least are on the right path to do it!
What makes me think so?
Everyone talks about document management systems and how important it is to have one. Everything must be stored on the cloud, where it is safe and easy to access and so on.
Sadly, the truth is that only a few companies have organized their documents well. But who are they? Well, usually, companies whose turnover grows year by year are making investments in new businesses, products, or systems, and employee satisfaction rate is high. These are the companies that have successfully implemented document management systems and are benefiting.
What is well organized documents?
Imagine you need something, and you get it with a few clicks. And you get the right document with the latest revision, and with a single click, you can also review other older revisions. Or your company uses a shared doc or excel file. You start to fill out your form, and every single change updates and stores on the cloud instantly, where your colleagues can see what changes you are making in real-time. This is well oiled document management system.
Everything described here is doable with the right tools.
What software do you need?
There are many construction document management systems; mostly they all will do the work. They are specifically designed for contractors and adjusted to their needs.
But there are also other solutions and databases, and not many people realize that they already have them. That is SharePoint or Google Drive. And why do I think you have one of them? Because in most cases it comes already in bundle with your email or office subscription.
In a further article, I will discuss only SharePoint since I am also using it and have more knowledge about it. That doesn’t mean that other platforms can’t do the same.
Organize document structure
There are numerous ways to make your structure accessible, but let’s look at one of the simplest that will also produce results and accessibility. Create folders with your projects, and then for every project, you can create the following categories:
- Request for information
- Change orders
- Purchase orders
- Cash flow
- And more
Technically, contractors already have some structure; this was just an example. You can mirror the categories and structure you already have in SharePoint.
Create a workflow
This is the step where everything changes. SharePoint allows you to create roles that can read, edit, and write files. You can and will have to create the following roles and access:
- Who can read and see files
- Who can write files
- Who will upload files?
- Who will review and approve?
- Who will get notified about file uploads, approvals, or changes?
As you can see, functionality is phenomenal. What I like the most is that you can also give access to specific files and folders outside your organization, thus giving access to up-to-date information where he can also be notified of changes.
Where should I start?
As you can see, it looks easy, but to keep it simple and well organized, you will first have to find in your company someone who can create, maintain, and remind others to keep things organized. If you don’t have someone who manages and keeps an eye on the whole process, you won’t get the results you want. It takes time and discipline to have a well-organized document management system. Alternatively, you can find a company that helps with implementing document management systems and provides best practices.