Having a solid system for managing your construction project documentation is good for operations, sure.
Construction document management software gives you more control over the projects themselves, for example, which allows your team to be more responsive to project changes.
But an underappreciated aspect of good site documentation is in how it strengthens key stakeholder relationships. Back office teams, general contractors and clients all benefit when trade contractors have water-tight project documentation.
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Good Construction Project Documentation Makes Your Office Manager’s Work Easier
Imagine the office manager at a successful trade contracting company. Let’s say the company has been in business for nearly 20 years and is the go-to contractor for electrical work in Western Louisiana.
That office manager will probably have 100-plus employees to keep an eye on, and those folks are spread across 20 different jobs at any moment.
Payroll is that office manager’s biggest challenge. They’re tracking time cards and getting everyone’s hours accounted for just in time for paychecks to go out — and for the whole process to start over again at the beginning of the month.
And absolutely nothing gets under this office manager’s skin quite like illegible field reports or poorly filled-out timesheets. Every minute spent trying to decipher a foreman’s handwriting squeezes that payroll deadline just a little bit tighter.
Anything that can be done to smooth communication between field teams and the office manager is a plus.
Chris Weaver, director of technology at Andy J. Egan Co. in Michigan, talks about this in episode 23 of our Power to the Trades podcast. Weaver describes it as “everybody pulling in the same direction.” This happens when teams have a shared dashboard that lets them visualize components of a construction project so they can grab whatever data is relevant for their work at that time.
With individual team members inputting the data they collect — field teams submitting work site photos, project managers updating forecasts — and standardizing that information so that it’s easily legible for everyone else, communication across the entire team becomes so much smoother.
Good Documentation Keeps Your General Contractor in the Loop
Actually, before we talk about subcontractor-GC communication during a construction project, we need to talk about bids.
Bidding on jobs can be exhausting for both sides. For a GC just initiating a project, their team could send several invites to bid per trade, says construction estimator Steven Gutwein. The GC’s team then follows up those invites with phone calls and emails to confirm a trade contractor’s bidding status.
So when trade contractors submit bids with missing or errant info, that’s more paperwork for the GC, before the construction project itself kicks off. Having solid documentation helps trade contractors get their subcontractor-GC relationships off on the right foot.
Now, once work has commenced an organized GC might have a contractor management system to solicit updates from their trade contractors, as the team at Conserve in Australia notes.
Likewise, trade contractors that have their own processes and their own tools for managing construction project documentation can plug into the GC’s solution to deliver project updates as needed.
“When our General Contractors have questions about project activity or documentation, we can quickly look in eSUB and provide them a copy of the documentation along with any pertinent status updates,” Kim DeMeo at Any Temp Heating and Cooling in Chicago tells us.
“All of our eSUB documentation and communications are time stamped which is critical for us when communicating with General Contractors.”
As with your office manager, your GC will appreciate having easily accessible, legible data that they can use for their own analytics and project management. By demonstrating a solid process for generating documentation, you prove to the GC project after project that your team deserves preferred trade contractor status.
That’s how you strengthen that relationship and grow your own business.
Good Documentation Demonstrates Your Value to Potential Customers
“In the commercial construction industry, reputation is everything,” the team at Proforma Construction writes. “One of the best ways to get your company’s name out there is by having an extensive web of contacts that will speak positively about your services and expertise.”
Trade contractors that run a tight ship tend to have happy office managers, strong relationships with GCs, and a good reputation among previous clients.
Good documentation plays an important role in building that reputation. “You should easily be able to show your customers that you don’t cut corners,” Kim Mercado at Next Insurance writes. “The most fundamental way to do this is to show them appropriate official qualifications and documents.”
With that foundation of solid documentation, you’ll have a way to keep current customers in the loop on a project’s progress. That’s what customers will remember when they walk away from a project your team worked on.
“Effective communication and collaboration are key components of successful customer relationship management in the construction industry,” Nitesh Tank at Purechem Manufacturing Ltd. writes.
Tank’s point brings up an important topic that dovetails with documentation: customer relationship management software. CRM software helps trade contractors manage their overlapping bids and allows them to see, at a data level, how their relationships with specific clients have evolved.
This helps keep information flows between subcontractor and client seamless. When you have strong processes for managing construction project documents and customer relationships, you put yourself in a position to build a robust sales pipeline.
Meanwhile, your previous clients will sing your praises and bring you referrals.
Get Your Project Documentation in Order With eSUB
If you’d like to learn more about how eSUB can help your team with project documentation management, schedule a demo today.
Images used under license from Shutterstock.com.