Integrating Document Control with Project Controls

Document control blog
João Miranda
João Miranda
Applied knowledge

What is document control?

Within Project Management, Document Control can be defined as the process framework managing the lifecycle of project-related documents, ensuring they are fit for use, up-to-date, accessible, and properly distributed to the right stakeholders.

Even though it is a key domain in Project Management, it is not a concept that falls directly into the realm of Project Controls, at first glance.

The (dis)connection to Project Controls

Not all activities related to the management of documents are part of Project Controls , as we understand. But as happens with time and cost, for example, communication must also be planned and monitored in order to drive a project to success, making it one of the knowledge areas of Project Controls, for us.

Still, as we have discussed before, Document Control is often regarded as an administrative role, handled by people with a specific profile and skillset, and specific platforms or systems, quite different than the ones we usually observe in Project Controls. As such, it is common to find these two disciplines quite disconnected within the organizations, when in fact they are so heavily interrelated, as we are about to see.

We already presented our version of the Project Controls definition a few times before. In brief, it is about creating insight on the health of the project. Clearly, document control has valuable information to offer in this matter.

First, the completion of many project deliverables is linked to the issuance of documents or a document bundle. Also, with work packages such as engineering, where the process workflow is document-based, physical progress is strongly linked to the status of the related documents in that workflow – or at least, it should be. So, it is paramount that this information is made available to Project Controls by the Document Controller.

Building a bridge

The interface between the two disciplines is then crucial, especially during the engineering phase of the project. But this interface is a major problem we encounter among our clients from different sectors. They pointed out many different pain points, like for example:

  1. Information about documents and the planning is scattered between separate systems and team members are not willing to provide the same input multiple times;
  2. Project Managers are not aware of the engineering status;
  3. Engineering managers lack visibility on the project priorities;
  4. Planners struggle to get time related information about documents.

Reading these issues above, it seems obvious that most of the pain would be relieved if both document management and planning were carried out on the same system or, at least, if the systems would be integrated with a custom API connector between them. The latter was actually the technical solution we previously implemented for some of our clients. Similar to what we do, when we want to integrate the ERP system to our Cost Control application.

Of course, the problem is not only a tool problem. It goes much beyond that. It is also about the methodological approach and the people’s engagement to it. But that is not the purpose of this post, so we will not discuss it here.

The future looks promising

The good news is that the future is around the corner. With the purchase of Aconex, Oracle ensured among other things, a top-notch document management solution, to complement Oracle Primavera Cloud (OPC).

Naturally, the goal is to have both tools fully integrated in the long term. For now, out of the box, we can already link projects between the two systems, and we can link the activities from the OPC Schedule module with document Packages from Aconex, providing due dates to it. There is still a long way to go, but it is a first step in the right direction.

Document packages from Aconex

For now, however, both systems include a comprehensive API documentation allowing us to easily work around all needed connections. In fact, as we finish this post, we are preparing a demonstration to showcase how the two systems can work together and be fully integrated.

It is not our intention to demonstrate the best planning approach for the engineering workflow, but to show potential interfaces that can be built, the sort of information that can flow between the systems, with quite simple custom API developments, which for sure can help our clients to tackle the issues they frequently observe.

If you are interested in a demonstration of this setup, just let us know or join us on our next Project Controls Inspiration Day.

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