Today’s technology has made communication on construction projects infinitely more convenient than ever before. We have become accustomed to real time information; we receive information about issues and incidents almost instantly, even on our construction projects.
Unfortunately, the ease of 21st century communication can also create significant miscommunication when not closely monitored. Ease of communication is not the same as effective communication.
One such area where I see this continually cause problems for owners is with document and revision control on a construction project. I have seen more than once someone peering over my shoulder, looking at my drawings, and asking “What Rev is that?” This can be a very frustrating and costly problem.
The process of document control should and can be extremely simple. Here are three tips to keep document control “under control” on your next construction project.
Tip #1: Assign Ownership
I firmly believe the most important step is to assign “ownership”. There should be only one person who can issue new documents and revisions to project stakeholders, and that person needs to “own” the process. That person should have intimate knowledge of your design process, standard plan set, and project team.
The document owner also needs to have sufficient authority in your organization to issue new or revised documents to the contractor and other vested partners. When issuing new documents, you have the innate risk of the new documents ultimately resulting in a change order; that is a fact of life in the construction industry. If you issue revised documents during construction, you want to make sure any resulting change orders align with your ultimate project goal and the associated cost is one that you are willing to at least entertain.
Tip #2: Use Technology Correctly
While modern technology can lead to some lackluster communication, it can also be extremely helpful when used correctly.
The best way to use technology is by using a central document location, such as a Sharepoint site, for storing and issuing documents. The key is that only your designated person should post documents to the central location; that type of control is how you make technology your best friend.
A big advantage of this type of document storage is that you can make all the documents instantly available to your project stakeholders. Documents get to those who need them in a timely manner and the “owner” is freed up after posting them.
One suggestion for organization of the central storage location is to consider an archive folder or location. This nearly eliminates the possibility of someone using outdated documents after new documents have been posted. For best results, move the old version into the archive before posting the updated documents.
Tip #3: Remember to Communicate
You can only get so far following just the first two tips; what brings it all together is communication. When documents are posted to your central location, make sure that this is communicated to your project team immediately. This can be done manually via email, or set up so certain shareholders are automatically alerted to new additions or changes to the document storage location.
Additionally, good communication is essential during your pre-construction period. Make sure that your entire project team knows and understands that documents can only be issued through one person and will always be issued through your central document location. This will help eliminate unauthorized documents being issued and ensures the contractor understands that there is only one place to get official project documents.
The process of document and revision control is a simple concept, but not always easy to implement. The larger your organization is, likely the harder your struggle will be to monitor your construction documents. But the task will be much easier when only one person has the authority to issue documents, your official documents are stored in a central location, and you remember to communicate. Following these tips will help you avoid having someone look over your shoulder and ask, “What Revision is that?”
How do you deal with document and revision control? Do you have any tips to add to this list? Please leave a comment below and let me know.
Photo credit: Adobe Stock / auremar