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5 construction software features all document controllers should look for

What causes construction and fit-out projects to stray off course? Often it’s something as ‘simple’ as ensuring everyone uses the latest schedule or specification data.

Even straightforward tasks can be hard to execute when a project goes live – which is why companies hire document controllers.

As a document controller, it’s your job to help colleagues and contractors collaborate. Everybody needs access to the latest programme information. And this is much easier to achieve using software over spreadsheets and emails.

But with so many options, how do you find the best construction software for document control? Here are some features to look out for when you’re shortlisting solutions:

1. A single source of truth

Let’s start with the obvious: a document controller’s primary job is to manage information. But keeping pace with construction and fit-out programmes isn’t easy. A vast amount of data is generated daily, so team members can quickly end up with old information.

The easiest way to achieve a single source of truth is through collaboration software.

When choosing a solution, pay attention to the document types your chosen software can manage. For example, can it integrate CAD files?

Ideally, you want a collaboration tool that manages every file type in one place – like IconSystem by Elecosoft. Otherwise, your team must still monitor spreadsheets and emails alongside construction software.

It’s worth examining how your chosen software grants access to the latest files. For instance, some solutions still require you to send bulky email attachments, which isn’t ideal. Look for solutions where team members can download the files they need directly from the software.

2. A configurable standardised approach

Establishing a single source of truth puts your project team on the same page. However, document controllers still need to ensure everyone uses the same approach to meet company and industry standards.

Collaboration software like IconSystem runs a reliable data thread through your project; whenever someone edits or updates a document, it’s available to the whole team. It also makes project information more transparent, so you can check that everyone is working in a compliant and consistent manner.

With suitable software in place for managing project information, you’ll be able to:

  • Track document versions and histories
  • Set permissions as to who can access which documents and editing features
  • Create a digital audit train
  • Meet the latest information security standards such as ISO27001
  • Integrate other relevant data via APIs

It’s also worth noting whether your shortlisted software vendor provides wraparound training and support services. Good customer support will help your team quickly get up to speed with your new solution.

3. A specs and standards database

Many document controllers struggle to provide detailed information without drowning people in data. Choose information management software with built-in specs and standards database to simplify this process.

By digitally managing your specs and standards data, you can ensure information is easily accessible by project teams. It’s particularly useful if you’re working on multiple projects that must be consistently executed – like retail fit-outs.

For example, UK supermarket chain Asda uses IconSystem to manage business-critical equipment data. Elecosoft has built a bespoke ‘profiles and specials’ feature that integrates Asda’s visual merchandising plans with fixture and fitting inventory.

Since deploying IconSystem, Asda has increased its equipment ordering accuracy by 35%. Zoe Mitchell, Model Planner at Asda, notes that “data is now infinitely more accurate. We can easily access granular detail that isn’t captured anywhere else, and we can be much smarter with the information we already have.”

Read Asda’s story in full

4. 3D model viewer

Even if you’re doing a great job at controlling documentation, there’s no guarantee the data you share will be executed correctly. Sometimes instructions get misinterpreted, even when teams are given accurate information.

We’ve already discussed the value of establishing a single source of truth to standardise working processes. Another way to improve collaboration is by visualising project information. However, this isn’t a standard feature of all information management systems.

Choosing collaboration software with a 3D model viewer will enable you to turn data into digestible imagery. Look for a browser-based solution which does not require plug-ins or additional software. For example, IconSystem is compatible with over 50 CAD file formats, and our libraries are constantly updated.

5. Projects and properties management

We’ve already discussed the challenges of executing consistent fit-out projects. But what happens if you’re managing multiple construction projects that must conform to the same standard?

Your choice of software can hugely impact consistency, as some solutions allow you to link developments as part of a more extensive programme.

Using collaborative tools can also help you to control building lifecycle development. For example, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has a global network of more than 4,600 hotels, but manual project execution has impacted its speed, accuracy and delivery quality.

Introducing IconSystem for some of its construction projects has helped to prevent basic errors such as placing orders with de-listed suppliers or trying to speak with out-of-date contacts.

Read IHG’s story in full

IconSystem: useful software for document controllers

Digital document control is a key component of successful project delivery. But as the points we’ve shared today confirm, document control software isn’t always created equal.

Our guidance will help you choose an information management system that makes your job easier. More importantly, it should help your teams to achieve consistent, timely results within budget.

All five of the features we’ve discussed here are available within IconSystem. Our cloud-based software gives construction and fit-out teams access to accurate information for a single version of the truth across every project.

Try IconSystem to explore our document control features.

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