Going Paperless in the Construction Industry

Going Paperless in the Construction Industry

Authored by Vijay Gupta, CMD, Softtech

 The construction industry’s productivity has been stagnant over the years due to dependence on outdated practices and legacy systems. Technology along with Sustainable Business Practices have been contributing significantly to the evolution of the construction industry. The Construction industry has been heavily reliant on paper all this time, but digitalization is now giving freedom to the industry from the physical blueprints & cumbersome paperwork.    

Moving to paperless projects is one of the major trends shaping the AEC (Architecture, Engineering & Construction) industry. The growing acceptance of paperless construction has made the AEC industry agile & responsive to the market needs. Advanced cloud-based software that extends information accessibility to the right people at the right time can help construction organizations to go paperless seamlessly. Moreover, when the project teams or workers can collaborate in real-time, a construction organization becomes much more effective. Read on this article to learn how you can boost your speed of doing business by going paperless

Better teams collaboration

The use of an efficient cloud-based construction solution helps the various teams to collaborate and share ideas & information seamlessly. All teams including onsite can collaborate on the most recent drawing versions & make real-time amendments. Moreover, paper-based documents, forms and drawings tend to get misplaced or damaged easily. The missing documents and smudged plans can easily lead to miscommunication. The lost documents also adversely impact project progress due to the loss of business-critical information. The use of dynamic construction software instead of dependence on paper helps to compile and store the valuable data and drawings in one place. The stored data can be easily shared across various channels to different teams. A construction management software helps to make all the documents accessible to the right people at right time. 

Real-time Mark-ups for project updates  

The paperless construction helps the project teams and managers to mark up the reports. The mark-ups are updated in real-time in the software and can be seen from anywhere. The digital mark-ups eliminate the time spent on reworking. All team members can collaborate on the current set of documents and mark-ups. The sheet compare functionality of a construction design solution enables the teams to overlay two sheets to assess changes, identify clashes and review constructability. 

 The software mark-ups also save time invested by construction professionals in shuffling back and forth from the job site to the trailer to review the changes. Time Management plays a critical role in determining the success of a project in the construction domain. Recent research has found that on-paper documentation and mark-ups lead to maximum time wastage, and a meta-analysis established that 50% of the time is wasted in sorting the paper dockets. Cutting-edge digital tools can help minimize time wastage and allow the builders to focus on building plans effectively.

Easy progress tracking

Photos, videos, notes or even web links can easily be attached to mark-ups or quality signoffs in an advanced construction project management tool. The photos and videos shared help track the real-time & detailed progress of projects. Also, outdated paper progress reports and photos tend to pile up and consume storage. The process also makes it difficult to share and access the visual reports crucial to completing the project on time; also, important images and notes often get misfiled or lost. In a natural disaster like fire, rain or storm, the paper documents can get destroyed easily and are lost forever. Cloud-based data, photos, videos, notes are always secure. The documents stored digitally are protected and secured by SSL security. The cloud documents also allow regular backups. Digitalizing the documents and project reports safeguards them against waterlogging, ripping, misplacing and burning.  

An ideal construction software dynamically timestamps the received photos, videos and notes. The software documents them according to the date and time stamp. Moreover, the timestamp helps to analyze the work done by the employees more effectively. The digital timestamp eradicates the need to decipher handwriting to decipher the project critical details. This makes it easy to recall information in case of litigation. 

Easy reviewing

Checklists and reports can be filled out, reviewed and submitted quickly. The digital submission of checklists helps to track the work scheduling and logistics purchase and supply. The digital reports help the project managers, stockholders and builders to review the project updates in real-time. The project reports also help determine the financial forecasting to improve productivity. In addition, the checklist and daily operation insights help the construction firms to prevent injuries and protect projects against liability. 

Several construction firms are leveraging digital checklist features to improve business processes through proper data organization & management. The digitalized checklists and reports help construction firms to stay organized, productive and safe.

Enhanced RFIs and responses management 

An RFI refers to a request for information used in the construction industry to propose solutions, clear the uncertainties and fill the gaps in information. RFIs form an integral part of the construction communication process. The RFIs and recorded responses are nowadays stored in cloud-based software. As per the project requirements, the RFIs can be made visible to authorized contractors through passcodes. The process also helps to prevent data breaches & contracts deviations. Dispersal of the RFIs in place of physical documents also helps shorten the timelines of the responses received. 

The document tracking module of construction software makes tracking & management of RFIs and reports easier. A project manager needs to effortlessly login in and tracks the RFIs through detailed reports. The approvals and communications over the RFI sent through mails can be recorded in dynamic sheets for easy progress tracking. Several construction management firms nowadays empower the subcontractors to track the RFI and create a response. The responses are stored in a centralized location and can be accessed anywhere, anytime by any stakeholder. 

Secured Storage

All information is stored with regular backups in the cloud securely. Cloud-based storage prevents data breaches. Paper documents and files get destroyed and fail to withstand the test of time. The paper dockets can become smugged due to waterlogging, get destroyed due to burning or get damaged due to termite attacks. Storing of the documents digitally safeguards them against water, fire, wind and bug attacks. 

 Storing paper documents, drawings, sketches and blueprints requires a lot of physical storage space & maintenance costs. Also, the amount spends on purchasing storage space increases the project costs. The use of cloud storage reduces storage and printing costs. Going paperless eliminates unnecessary expenditures and boosts savings.

Simplified data management & insights

Compiling all information for handover and maintenance is easier than ever a cloud-based construction management software. The cloud software stores data seamlessly and auto-generates reports from the collated insights. In construction, industry evaluation plays a key role in all the functions. The paperless construction helps speed up the evaluation process with real-time data compilation and analysis. The compiled data assists in establishing & assessing future goals and project outcomes. The compiled data and reports also help identify the project challenges and find solutions for them.

The construction industry has been lagging behind the other industries due to the pen & paper dependencies. Embracing the paperless construction trend has helped boost the productivity of construction firms dramatically. Adopting the new cloud-based technologies help save construction time and expenditures. Paperless technology has freed the contractors and builders from the overwhelming & cumbersome construction record keeping & management. Although going paperless might seem difficult initially, a good technology strategy can help reap several benefits in the longer run. So to boost the profit margins, enhance ROI and maximize productivity, the construction industry stakeholders need to join hands for the adoption of paperless construction management. 

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