If you saw the title of this article and thought, “What does document search have to do with my project cost?” I want you to keep reading. Messy, inefficient, inaccurate document search hits our project costs hard, but it’s one form of waste that isn’t quite as obvious as the labor hours spent on rework or the easily quantifiable cost of material waste. You don’t stare at the budget line item related to “hours lost searching for documents” wondering how you can cut it down. But, lost hours due to document mismanagement are as real a threat to your project’s cost controls as any other form of jobsite waste, and we’re going to give you tips below to anticipate issues and stay on top of document search throughout your project’s lifecycle.
Plan to work, work the plan
- Planning is a critical part of a construction project, but are you spending enough time planning your document management before you start building? How are your project team and partners going to find the docs they need? What steps will they need to take? If you’re considering just hitting copy + paste on your doc management practices from your last project, stop to consider where those tools and processes may have succeeded or failed, and adjust before you get started with the next project.
- Collect feedback from your team members and partners. How do they typically try to find documents they need, like RFIs, Submittals, Specs, and Project Drawings? If they’re spending time digging in folders or calling other team members, think about how you can adjust your process or tools to recapture those valuable lost minutes.
Pick your tools
- Once you’ve made your plan for how your team is going to manage and locate their documents, choose your tools. Does your company rely on a project management platform, or do you typically store project docs on a cloud server? Do you use a local drive? If you’ve got multiple sources of documentation, and each of them have their own folder structure, it might be time to consider a tool like DADO. DADO aggregates project docs from the industry’s major platforms and gives your team a powerful, construction-intelligent search to find their docs as soon as they need them. You’ll reclaim your team’s lost minutes and turn those back into productive hours onsite.
Teach your team
- Your investment in software will pay off if you invest time in proper training. Make sure your team has the access/permissions they need, training or help documentation, and a specific point person they can come to for help with technical issues. Eliminating confusion around the tools being used on the project saves time later in the schedule.
Quantify your wins and losses
- After project closeout, or even before, compare your team’s document search experience to prior projects. If you restructured your document management process, or started leveraging a tool like DADO, track the number of calls, emails, and questions about document locations. Ask your team anecdotally if they felt like they needed to rely on other team members less because they had more autonomy in their document search process. Start to develop a general idea of the time being saved by eliminating these unnecessary inquiries and time spent waiting around, and add up those hours to look at your cost savings.
The biggest takeaway when it comes to document search and your project’s cost controls: a little planning goes a long way. Think about ways you can shift your document management process to give your team more autonomy, so they’re spending less time searching for documents and more time building.