In today’s technology-driven world, there are many ways to share individual files, such as Dropbox, Google Drive and SharePoint.
Every day, consumers around the world use these platforms to enable various parties to access, view and edit shared documents.
In the infrastructure sector, projects are becoming increasingly more sophisticated, prompting an explosion in document management technologies.
Contractors are no longer dealing with a few drawings or documents – most infrastructure projects have hundreds of thousands of documents, each with many different versions.
This is where the distinctions between file sharing and document management and control become evident. It is easy to imagine how cluttered hundreds of thousands of files might look in a standard directory like Windows. And if you were to stack those documents on top of each other, they would reach higher than a 12-storey building – try finding the right drawing in that!
As such, a file management system where all parties can view registers and filters, and implement document controls, is crucial from a project’s start until turnover and beyond.
InEight Executive Vice President – Asia Pacific Rob Bryant explains that a successful project turnover ensures all correct evidence is presented from across the project.
“At the end of any construction project, the turnover process ensures all documentation and evidence are handed over to the asset owner. This can help prevent or resolve potential claims and progress the asset to its operational phase,” Mr. Bryant says.
A formal document control solution enables any files or correspondence containing contractual requirements to be tracked and audited throughout the project lifecycle.
Furthermore, version control establishes a single source of up-to-date project documentation accessible by all collaborating parties. This means owners can account for commercial sensitivity, monitor the most recent file and see who accessed the latest version, helping thwart potential disputes.
On infrastructure projects containing thousands of documents, the handover process can be lengthy, as all files must be located and validated as the correct or latest versions. While document management and control are crucial at the turnover of a project, they are also effective when implemented from the project’s outset.
“You can’t start too early. We encourage contractors and project owners to use the document control solution from the bid phase,” Mr. Bryant says.
Implementing document controls from this early stage enables owners or contractors to capture initial design works and contractual agreements and retain a record of them for future referencing, he explains. This way, when the contract is won and construction begins, there is a complete audit trail of the design vision and correspondence between all parties from the outset, so everyone is on the same page.
“Often, it’s only when you get to turnover and you want to go back and reference the initial designs to see where things changed that you really appreciate the importance of starting early,” Mr. Bryant says. Once the contract has been awarded, on-site works are additionally made easier for the entire project team.
“Providing a mobile interface to ensure teams on site are working from the latest version of a drawing or document is extremely critical,” Mr. Bryant says. InEight’s document management solution allows workers to validate they are working from the latest version of a file through a QR code, which stays across printed or digital files.
“If they aren’t using the latest version, the code will take them to the correct file electronically,” he explains.
The system also helps increase productivity for inspections and reporting. “You can conduct site inspections with a mobile device, capturing images and referencing those to documents with geospatial data.
“This way, in the future, workers can use a GPS to help identify which drawings they are looking at, or which area to work in.”
Following completion of construction, the turnover process begins. Mr. Bryant says contractors often talk about the challenge of gathering all the information at the end of construction.
“Some of the projects take place over five years and there is turnover of staff and even turnover of collaborative parties and sub-contractors, so to gather all of the information in retrospect is verging on the impossible,” Mr. Bryant says.
If a document such as a drawing or site survey results cannot be validated at turnover, when a project moves into the operational phase, survey work may have to be redone, which can be costly.
“When you see surveys being conducted on existing roads, this is typically because the drawings or survey results can’t be located when they have come to do future work or maintenance,” says Mr. Bryant. It is common for contractors to bring in consultants to collate the documentation, which is expensive. However, if the information is gathered from the beginning and documents are managed consistently throughout the project’s lifecycle, contractors can enjoy a simple and efficient turnover.
“Owners and contractors rely on documentation to avoid any claims during turnover, to make sure that work is completed effectively and to ensure rework and further inspections aren’t required,” Mr. Bryant says.
Significantly, as the technology being utilised in constructing new roads advances, the amount of information associated with the asset also increases.
“Moving forward, there are more technology assets as part of the road – it is not as simple as maintaining tarmac and line markings anymore,” Mr. Bryant says. “There is technology to consider, including ramp metering, traffic sensors and lane use signs to maintain. That will entail more documentation and make effective turnover even more important.”
A robust document management and control solution can play a key role in helping owners and contractors keep pace with these changing requirements and optimise their project outcomes, he says.
To learn more about InEight’s portfolio of capital project management solutions, click here. .