Why Contractors Need a Written Policy for Construction Project Documentation
Construction project documentation can be a bit of a hassle especially if something goes wrong. You have to find all of the documents related to the project, which are hopefully in one place. This takes away from other important areas of your business and could possibly be expensive. It’s times like these that it becomes clear how important a written policy for project documentation really is. To avoid this, it’s important to craft a written policy for project documentation.
What is a Written Policy for Construction Project Documentation
Projects come with lots of paperwork. You have the project estimates and bids, emails, purchase orders, and payroll to name a few. All of the papers produced by the project have to be stored somewhere for quick reference in case you need them. These are what project documentation management aims to help control. So project documentation management is a set of rules and practices relating to how your business creates, distributes, and stores various types of documents related to the project.
Having a standard for project documentation helps your business in a variety of ways. For starters, it gives you standard formats and templates for different documents you regularly produce. But it also helps with document retrieval. If you need something on one project, most likely your rules require it to be in the project folder. This set of standards simplifies some of the paperwork your business has to produce.
What Documents to Include in Construction Project Documentation
When you’re writing your construction project documentation policy you should also specify the scope of project documentation. The scope is what should count as a project document and what is a noncritical project document. Critical project documents are those that relate directly to the project. For example, emails or messages between people on the project about the project, meeting minutes, daily reports, calendars, photos, submittals, accounting, etc. Noncritical project documentation is your personal emails and messages, things that are usually not related to the project.
All of the critical documents listed are common documents that make sense. They clearly apply to the project. And the majority of the time they are all that is needed for project documentation. However, if faced with litigation noncritical project documents might become part of the scope.
What to Include in the Written Policy
A written policy has to specify how to produce those documents, the standard of the documents, and how to store the documents. But that’s not all that should be included in a written policy. It’s important to also set up guidelines and standards for personal use of company email, and the language used in email. It’s also important to take into consideration who should be creating the documents, and who needs access to them. Limiting access to creating, changing or viewing documents could be helpful for your policy. By having these standards in place you help your business in case of litigation.
How to Document
After you’ve drawn up your policy, it is a good idea to look at how the projects are stored. Many businesses still use paper documents primarily, which means that all documents have to be carefully stored. It also leaves the information subject to the elements and human error. If some documents are digital, it is important to consider how they’re stored. Keeping projects in specific folders in the cloud or on a server can keep all your documents there for you. However, you have to create specific directories and folders to store everything, and you have to pay for more space. And you have to remind your employees to save and store their correspondence.
There are also software options to help manage construction project documentation. Some project management or scheduling software comes with a way to keep documents related to the project in one place and it’s own unlimited cloud space. By using a software or computer based solution, you are saving yourself space and time. You won’t have to go digging around a filing cabinet in order to find a document, you will have access to them at the tips of your fingers.
Crafting a written policy for construction project documentation and consistently using it will help your business. It sets up how you want to store and create documents which helps when you need to find a document or if faced with litigation. Using software or computer solutions to project document storage helps you find necessary documents and keeps them safe. Proper and consistent project documentation will benefit your business not just now but in the future.