The 3 Biggest Challenges of Sharing Construction Project Documents

document challenges

Organizing construction project documents can be difficult and time consuming. Construction data management along with the management of plans, specifications and drawings, can be a big headache for capital project owners with frequent or multiple simultaneous projects. Providing access and presenting these documents to external project team members is a must, but how best to go about construction document management can be a real conundrum. 
 
The three biggest challenges that capital project owners and construction project managers face when storing, managing and sharing project-related documents with contractors, subcontractors and consultants follow.
 
No. 1: The old school approach is expensive and resource intensive
 
The cost of printing and mailing hard-copy paper documents for distribution to external project team members adds up quickly because plans change or addenda need to be shared. Project managers can find themselves in a state of perpetual printing and delivery – either via mail or courier.
 
No. 2: Electronic files are often poorly organized and locating documents is a struggle
 
While sharing electronic documents is preferable to paper, the high cost of online document management/control services is often a deterrent. 
 
Additionally, distributing documents via an FTP site and using Microsoft-like folder structures may be difficult for casual users; they cannot easily move from one document to another because the folders do not adequately convey relationships. Time is wasted hunting for the desired file – something that, when a bid package is issued, can deter potential bidders and reduce participation.
 
Owners and project managers often wrestle with whether an old school approach to distributing hard-copy paper documents is preferable to a disorganized online file structure that’s overwhelming and inefficient. Both options can seem like a losing proposition.
 
No. 3: Team members are unknowingly referencing outdated information
 

If contractors, subcontractors and consultants can’t locate the most up-to-date information as decisions are being made, the project can suffer from unnecessary change orders and delays, both of which negatively impact the budget.
 
Sorting though versions of documents can be time-consuming. And resorting to a naming convention to track iterations is confusing and prone to errors. Operating without a historical record of changes can be just as big of a problem, though.
 
Accessibility and dissemination of up-to-date construction documents and plans is imperative to the success of any project throughout all phases, from bidding through construction, and even during occupation. Until a solution is employed that mitigates these problems, construction projects will continue to be plagued with unnecessary expenses, poor decision-making, and/or frustrated project team members.

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