How Successful Construction Companies Handle Documentation for Big Projects

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What is you bigger pain when it comes to leading big projects? The answer always comes down to document management. Is this true for you? If yes then please carry on reading. We will go in depth of the document management subject. Keeping it simple, document management is all about managing how you structure, organize, update and retrieve documents. You probably know that maintenance of a good documentation process is the core of viable and successful project delivery.
I am aware that there is a practice for certain projects not to have formal document management processes. But, when it comes to a large project that on a daily/weekly basis produces a lot of different documents, then you have to establish rules and process that will make it easy for you to manage. Don’t worry, I will not go through the regular stuff like naming, structure, standard formatting etc.

Appoint a “librarian”

Maybe this will sound too “corporate” to you, but believe me, you need a person that will:

  • Be responsible and take care for the coordination of the document repository-related activities;
  • Lead the process for establishment, communication and monitoring for document organisation update and retrieval standards;
  • Identify, address, escalate and resolve documentation problems;
  • Be in charge of the access, update and retrieval of documentation

Is this a full-time position? Absolutely not! I will recommend a plan where you arrange a person to devote 10% of her/his time. And hey, if the project generates a lot of documents, then assign a person to focus full time on this area.

Have a policy for access

What this means is that you will have to have rules that will describe who can access, review and update the documentation. You will agree that part of the documents must be available to the whole team and some documents should be under restricted access.

Have policy for updates

Let’s start with the basics. Every member must have full access to his/her documents. The project manager should have a clear view and control over who can and is making the updates. What I see from companies using AproPLAN, a good practice is to communicate the time frame when someone can and should make updates. As I’ve stated in previous post, the PM must have up-to-date info about what is going on. This also means deadline until when you want people to do their homework.

Have a policy for document purge

Purging old documents ensures that the information on the repository is relevant. For instance, weekly individual Status Reports may not be needed after three months. On the other hand, the Project Charter document is needed for the life of the project.

Have a policy for periodic repository review

When the documentation process is complexed and dynamic, you have to conduct periodic reviews for the whole “library”. As you expect, the librarian will be responsible for organising and coordinating these reviews.
This document management area of large projects, must be held on the horizon when starting a new project. The reason for this statement is saving time and reduced hassle during the project timeframe. As you probably have experienced before, how the project is advancing, more and more documents are created.

Better, faster and cheaper documentation management

I am sure you will agree that In 2014 and beyond, software will be an unavoidable part of your business or operations. More than ever, companies will need faster and reliable ways to execute the work within different operational processes.
For related articles on the same topic, here’s an informative article on making construction project reporting easier. Also, check this article out to save yourself from project documentation nightmares. Feel free to download our free ebook to help you improve productivity in your construction site.

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