You’re sitting in your office one day when you get a call from an engineer on your team. A new interpretation of a building code forced the team to change plans for one of the basic house blueprints you use as a foundation for a variety of projects. Suddenly, you’re looking at a logistical and communications nightmare, unless your document and content management systems are up to the task.

Digital document management technologies have the potential to resolve a variety of operational challenges, and document management that is embedded into ERP systems is particularly advantageous. With this in mind, here’s a quick look at why advanced document management capabilities are so critical and how you can get a system off the ground.

Understanding the role of document management

According to a Construction Executive report, businesses need digital document management systems that empower collaboration because the solutions allow users to interact more effectively and comply with regulatory standards more easily.

Let’s revisit our introduction scenario from this point of view. When an engineer calls, saying you need to update an essential plan for code compliance, you are forced to launch a variety of processes, including:

  • Replace every existing version of the older blueprint with the updated version
  • Identify which active projects are using those plans and get site managers revised plans
  • Update marketing and sales collateral to reflect the new base blueprint and drawing relative to the change

It isn’t enough to update your primary source blueprint; you need to get the revised version out to all of your relevant teams. If you’re using paper records, this means printing, photocopies, courier trips out to project sites or field workers making extra visits to the office. The costs, delays and potential for project setbacks escalate quickly.

With digital document management, you make the backend change and ensure the apps and services that users rely on automatically pull from that source. As such, all you need to update is the digital source file; all your teams get automatically notified about the revised plans.

Establishing digital document management

Transitioning to a digital strategy may seem overwhelming, leaving you worried that you’ll have to scan lots of paper files. But think about it:

  • Your engineers are probably working in CAD systems already
  • Your field teams are relying on smartphones and tablets
  • You are likely in a situation where the business is becoming natively digital

In many cases, companies are actually putting a great deal of effort into sustaining paper-based systems because they want to avoid the initial disruption of going digital. Don’t wait. You can keep some legacy drawings and blueprints in paper format if you need to, but take the time to scan what you use regularly and start leveraging your digital source files as soon as possible to begin a transition.

The real key to getting document management plans off the ground isn’t so much about going digital, but about organizing and distributing files in such a way that the system is sustainable over time.

Sustaining a digital document ecosystem

Digital document management strategies often fall apart when users have to jump into specialized apps or file sharing systems to get the information they need. The extra clerical work—even when it’s easier than dealing with file cabinets—leads to operational overhead. Integrating document management tools into your ERP platform—or better yet, deploying an ERP with embedded document management capabilities—builds access to all content assets into day-to-day processes.

The CMiC construction ERP includes ‘native’ content management capabilities, allowing your employees to integrate files into workflows, easily search your database and enact controls over assets. Furthermore, document management tools are extended out to CMiC’s field-specific solutions, providing integral connectivity between the office and project sites.

Digital document management can be transformative, and ERP platforms with embedded document management capabilities ensure that construction firms can maximize the value they receive from new digital technologies.