Many of us are faced with the challenge of controlling the massive volume of construction documents required as we build today’s MEGA scale projects.
Massive amounts of data
The move toward digital information is an unstoppable juggernaut. An indication is that early in this decade, digital data storage requirements hit the "Zetta" prefix, defined as one sextillion (1021) bytes of data. Only one prefix, the “Yotta," remains available equal to one septillion (1024) bytes of data. Storage is just one of many problems with construction documents, and probably the easiest to solve!
The more difficult problem relates to document control. The main challenge is managing the documentation deliveries with high efficiency and high quality. Some of the practical challenges facing the industry are: Is the documentation easily accessible? Do we have control over revisions? How do we most effectively distribute tasks and track progress? How do we make sure people collaborate efficiently without generating unnecessary overhead? Digitalization is supposedly the savior, but how can digitalization help us? What does a digitized process look like for the end user?
There are 3 basic steps that every company should make sure they follow to get control of their technical documentation processes.
Step 1: Organize and structure your documentation
The first question to ask yourself is, “Do we have control of this information?” for example, can we find the construction documents that we need when we need them? See this resource on how MetaData organization improves your ability to find documents. The next question after the document is found, is: “Can we trust the validity of what we find?" This can be ensured through strong support for revision management in systems like Proarc (we will revisit how you can make sure you can trust the revision as the project starts and revisions change).
Step 2: Adopt a unified review and approval process
Once you have control over where and how the technical documentation is organized, and you trust the documentation is up to date, then the next question is: “do we have control over the planning and execution of the review and approval processes?" To gain control over these processes, often with globally dispersed participants, you will benefit from adopting a structured unified review and approval process enabled with digital workflow automation.
With such capabilities you will be able to plan and distribute tasks, give engineers and engineering managers their own inbox with task descriptions and due dates, and automatically update revisions based on predefined rules. With this information digitized and managed in the system it is also easy track the progress and intervene when needed. It also gives you complete track of who has done what to the documentation – helping you staying compliant.
Step 3: Digitize the comment handling process
An important part of the review and approval process is managing and consolidating comments. The time used to handle commenting, often semi manually, is an overlooked cost in many construction projects. Typically, a manual commenting processes leads to multiple versions with comments from different reviewers which someone needs to spend time on manually consolidating. This can lead to versioning issues with questions such as: “have everyone commented on the right version?"
Managing comments for vendor documentation can be even trickier. Typically solved with traditional comment sheets, it leads users to have to deal with separate documents: the original PDF, a PDF with comments and a comment sheet. Needless to say the process is not very smooth for the end user. A better solution is to use comment handling software integrated with workflow and vendor/client portal. This helps you digitize the entire process, and not just parts of the construction documents. Some of the benefits with this approach are:
- Allow users to comment on the same PDF in parallel – no need for multiple PDFs with comments that needs to be manually merged and consolidated
- View comments from all participants on a workflow in one view – extracted from the PDF
- Easily select which comments to include for official distribution to clients or vendors
- Distribute documents with comments to a vendor/client portal where external users get the same overview as you.
Technical documentation control is about being more effective
Becoming more effective is achieved through smart digitization and automation. Proarc’s market-leading engineering document management system (EDMS), provides flexibility and configurability and can be deployed both as an online and on-premise solution.
If you’d like to learn more about Proarc, simply click to view a live recording of a demonstration.
You can, of course, call us or contact us through the website, where we’d welcome the opportunity to answer any questions you may have on this post.