Last week, I was in Las Vegas speaking at the AGC National Convention and attending CONEXPO / CON-AGG, an international tradeshow featuring more than 2,000 exhibitors showcasing the latest in construction equipment, technologies and services. Later this week, I will share some thoughts about the tradeshow, including some of my favorite exhibits.
In the meantime, I was impressed with the number of vendors with software solutions for document management. The process of documentation, including its evaluation and improvement, may be better understood if it is subdivided into the following sub-tasks:
- Recognition, collection and recordation: This is the most vital step in the entire process. Without it, the other steps are moot. It requires that field superintendents and/or project engineers evaluate all real-time events, selecting those that appear to be of future value, and committing them to a permanent record. Many contractors have reported that their field personnel do not adequately evaluate the real-time events until after they have experienced a major claim on one of their projects. It is a shame to pay the costs for an undocumented claim to ensure better documentation in the future. For that reason, I have given numerous workshops and presentations on documentation and "real litigation" examples to demonstrate the importance of documentation.
- Reporting, distribution and transmission: This is a matter of communicating the documents or information to another party. Modern software is available to help with the reporting, distribution and transmission. There are many contractors who customize their software to meet their own particular needs. If field records are computerized at the outset, the cost of organizing them at a later point is eliminated.
- Initial utilization: Initial utilization of field documentation is important. Contractor management must know what is going on in the field so that adjustments can be made. It is similar to football coaches reviewing real true photographs of plays during a game and then making adjustments to their plan. The documentations that is not reviewed may be routed directly to storage.
- Storage and retrieval: Storage typically involves filing the information so that it can be retrieved at a later point. Once again, storage by use of computer software makes retrieval at a later date an easier task.
The solutions out there are numerous. As we move forward to the paperless project, there will be more efficient, more effective and better integration through these task.