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The problem with paper: redefining construction document management 

Construction and retail fit-out projects are a tale of two halves. Tasks and timelines are often managed online. Yet teams still rely on physical plans, specifications and drawings to execute work.

Putting everything down on paper can be problematic. It’s easy for important information to be lost or misinterpreted, or for someone to be working with incorrect data. In the 21st century, we need more sophisticated processes to drive consistent results.

Keep reading to discover:

  • Why physical paperwork can compromise project progress
  • How digitising documents can drive more consistent outcomes
  • When to replace paper with cutting-edge collaboration software

Physical paperwork can compromise project progress

While printed specifications might be the traditional method for recording technical information, it has a number of drawbacks. For example, paper is:

  • Easy to lose or damage: many firms struggle with how to organise construction documents. How many times has an important piece of paper gone missing on a project? Teams can waste hours looking for misplaced documents.Even
    if you know where your design and specs sheets are, they can easily get torn or stained when you’re using them on site.
  • Prone to mistakes: how often has a staff member or contractor misinterpreted markings on a paper document? When you’re relying on print outs covered in scribbles, they can be difficult to read and execute.
  • Often out of date: projects rarely stay on-track, which usually means re-printing and distributing technical information. Are you confident that your whole team has the latest version of a paper document? Using an outdated version could lead to time consuming and costly reworks.
  • Expensive and unsustainable: how much does your company spend a month on paper and printing? A significant amount, most likely.It’s not very environmentally friendly either. Especially if you’re printing duplicates to pre-empt lost or damaged paperwork.

If physical information is so problematic, what’s the alternative? For many construction and fit out projects, digital software is redefining document management.

Digitising documents can drive more consistent outcomes

Information management software like IconSystem makes it easier for companies to share construction best practices. Digitising specs and standards will allow your business to:

  • Provide accurate information: by going digital there are no physical print outs to lose or misplace. Instead, there’s a single information point for all specifications, standards and property data.If your document centre is cloud-based, project teams can access technical data from anywhere; all they need is a secure login. They can also trust that the information they’re using is up to date.
  • Create a single source of truth: as programmes evolve, so will the corresponding technical information stored on your platform.Construction document management software helps your projects stay on track, to ensure you deliver high quality results. There are no more excuses for wandering away from the original brief!
  • Improve collaboration: a single source of truth does more than enhance project accuracy: it helps your project team collaborate, as everyone is using the same technical data. Team members can make changes and review updates online, which are immediately visible to their colleagues.Online document control is especially useful for construction and fit out programmes where teams are based in different locations. For example, designers may need to work closely with on-site staff to make sure their ideas are executed accurately.
  • Greater accountability: whether your project has a dedicated document controller or your project manager is coordinating information, somebody needs to take the lead.The best document management systems not only allow that person to manage construction and fit out projects; they log version history to provide an accurate audit trail, so your team is accountable for all work completed.
  • Increase consistency: for multi-site construction and fit out projects, ensuring consistent execution across all locations is key to your company’s success.Information management software ensures your latest specs and standards can be shared across your business. This way, projects can be easily and consistently replicated at a future date.

Replacing problematic paper with cutting-edge collaboration software

It’s unlikely people ever break up with paper completely. There are still those who favour physical diaries over phone calendars, or who wander around supermarkets with a hastily written list in their hand. But there’s a world of difference between clinging to old habits at home and using outdated processes in your business life.

Now is the time to embrace a modern approach to document control. Going paperless will empower your construction or fit out company to redefine document management, using cutting-edge software to give teams a single source of truth.

Cloud-based tools like IconSystem make it easier for your project leaders to collaborate with colleagues and contractors, produce consistent results, and reduce your carbon footprint.

IconSystem is particularly effective as it includes a dedicated Specs and Standards module for controlling design standards. Our software creates a complete digital thread of information, controlling every project item from wall construction to the type of light fitting, for efficient and consistent results.

Companies like Prosper are already using IconSystem to create a central repository for architectural specifications and standards. Prosper’s platform stores architectural and construction details, retail fixtures and equipment data and signage information to give its retail clients one version of the truth.

Read Prosper’s full story.

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