Document control – a crucial part of project controls

Document control
Stijn Van de Vonder
Stijn Van de Vonder

The best software choice always depends on additional needs that the organization might have on model coordination, field management or procurement and on legacy systems that need to be integrated with.

Included topics
  • Document Control
  • Communication management
Applied knowledge

Communication management and more specifically document control is an integral part of project controls. Much like scope, time, cost, resources and risks, also communication should be planned and monitored in order to drive a project to success.

Most project controls professionals are analytical people. We like numbers and data analysis. Techniques such as schedule risk analysis, Earned Value Management and 4D Planning are considered to be challenging and fun. Document control is about rigor and structure. Many typical project controls professionals are inherently less passionate about it.

The result is that document control might be regarded by them and others as pure administration and hence does not receive the attention it deserves.

Strategic importance

Document control is one of the key parts of project controls. Tons of documents contain key information for projects. Especially when multiple stakeholders and disciplines are involved in a project, the number of documents to manage grows rapidly.

Good document management can be a game changer for projects.

Some of the advantages of centralized document control are:

  • Single source of truth – a centralized repository ensures that everyone always looks at the same information. This avoids errors and ambiguities.
  • Centralization of all information streams through one platform. This greatly reduces the time spent in searching for information. This is especially true when the use of metadata to qualify the documents is done properly.
  • More effective communication processes. Submittal and RFI processes are greatly reduced in time.
  • Change control and version history provide a clear audit trail for every document. It is always clear and unquestionable when a document was created or superseded by whom. This type of undisputable audit trail can even help to prevent and win claims.
  • Allows to monitor and control communication. Based on all information in the document management system (DMS), KPI’s can be monitored to measure the effectiveness of communication. And what can be measured can be improved.

Document Management System

Document management systems serve two rather distinct use cases:

  1. A centralized document repository that allows for team collaboration and a single version of the truth.
  2. A communication tool that streamlines official transmittals and correspondence between the different contractual parties.
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Some tools are more suited for the first use case. We believe that this is true for the popular Microsoft SharePoint and for the document management functionality in most construction management software packages. For complex (and contractual) projects, document management deserves a best-of-breed solution that covers both use cases.

Oracle Aconex is the market leader for contractual document control. Amongst many other things, Oracle Aconex is a great platform to transmit documents between contractual parties, while keeping a complete audit trail. Its success in the market is partially due to its neutrality principle, which we explain in a different blog post.

Getting the right DMS for you

Getting the most out of document controls means selecting the right Document Management System, having a solid document management strategy and implementing the DMS following this strategy.

Proove positions itself as a trusted advisor. We are independent of any software vendor but certified to implement multiple tools. Oracle Aconex might be the leader but is not by default the best fit for your organization. Its challengers such as InEight Document (previously named Teambinder), Procore and Asite also have their strengths. The best choice also always depends on additional needs that the organization might have on model coordination, field management or procurement and on legacy systems that need to be integrated with.

Selecting and implementing a DMS is not an easy task. We are available to help you with that.

Depending on the DMS though, it is often easier to implement than some other software tools. However, as Proove, we always want our customers to make the most out of their tool selections. Therefore, we can help you with its selection and implementation based on your Document Control strategy which we can define together if it’s not already the case.

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