By David Wagner, Vice President of Industry Solutions, InEight

The engineering, construction and operation of utility projects has long been known to generate massive amounts of various project data. How you manage this data often dictates how well your projects perform, and in turn the success of the project’s stakeholders. 

So how do you better manage your project data? 

In this article, we break down what a single source of document truth looks like in construction and the immediate efficiencies realised by using a central location for storing, managing and sharing project data. You’ll also discover how a single source of document truth inherently mitigates project risk, protecting your bottom line.   

Your Outlook inbox, the network project (P:) drive, your company’s file transfer protocol (FTP) site, a SharePoint folder and Dropbox. What do all these things have in common? Well, there’s a good chance you’re storing project documents across tools just like them. Is that bad? 

Most companies are already using many of them, so they have a high level of familiarity and they typically add only a small additional cost to a project. On that basis, it would seem to make sense to use these tools for storing project documents.

However, I would contend they are not beneficial, and could end up costing your organisation significantly more than implementing a single source of truth for managing all your project documentation. Why? Because when you spread your data across a variety of different solutions, you fundamentally decrease your overall efficiency and significantly increase your risk. 

Time is money

To understand how this happens, let’s start by examining why spreading your project documents across multiple tools can reduce your overall efficiency by 20-40 per cent. The biggest offender is the amount of time you waste just trying to find the right document. 

How many hours a week do you currently spend searching for your documents? One… two… four hours? A recent study indicates the average construction professional spends five and a half hours a week just searching for documents, and this doesn’t include the time spent using the document or recreating it if you are unable to find it. 

A large part of this time is devoted to just figuring out in what system the latest version of the document is stored. Is it sitting as an attachment to an email in Outlook? Is it stored in a folder up on the network? Did it get uploaded into SharePoint, Dropbox, Microsoft Teams or some other cloud-hosted document sharing site? 

A single source of truth, by definition, means there is only one source where all your project documents are stored. This means no more guessing – you will always know where to find the latest version.

Make the right decision, wherever work takes you

Another huge inefficiency comes with accessing all the relevant information necessary to make the best and most timely decisions. Whether you’re at the office, in the trailer, walking the site or on the train home from work, as a construction professional you’re constantly making decisions. 

To make the best possible ones, you need access to the latest information and visibility into all the relevant related-project items. 

Unfortunately, all too often each project item is stored in a different system. 

For example, the email that started a request for information (RFI) is stored in Outlook, the plan related to that RFI is stored on your network server, the relevant photos are still sitting on someone’s smartphone and the RFI itself was uploaded to Dropbox. It becomes virtually impossible to consume the entire context of the issue. A single source of truth brings all these related project items into a single solution, while providing easy access to all the project documents and visibility into the relationships of the relevant project items. 

This more comprehensive approach to decision-making drives overall effectiveness and efficiency, resulting in improved decision accuracy and timeliness.

Version control = risk reduction

So how does a single source of truth help mitigate risk? It’s all about ensuring everyone is using the most up-to-date documents. 

When documents are spread across multiple storage solutions, how do you keep track of which one is the most current and, consequently, ensure you’re distributing it to the extended project team? In short, you aren’t able to unless you’ve implemented a single document management system that provides one source of distribution, ensuring everyone is working off the same project documents. 

With a single source of truth, you can be sure everyone on the team is using the latest documents, resulting in thousands of dollars saved in the elimination of rework.  

Additionally, every project event is tracked in one central location. When was the email sent, who downloaded a document sent via a transmittal, why was a document revised and who viewed the latest RFI form? All of these questions can be addressed using a single-source document management solution that’s available in the marketplace today. 

A single source of truth gives you a complete, searchable view of everything that’s ever happened on your projects. So, when those inevitable disagreements and conflicts arise, you are armed with a complete audit trail of exactly what happened. As a consequence, you mitigate risk, save time researching issues and help prevent litigation. 

If you are frustrated by your inability to find the right document, not knowing if your team is using the most current ones and not knowing exactly what the team has done and when they did it, now is the time to implement a single source of document truth and drastically improve your overall efficiency while mitigating project risk.

This partner content was brought to you by InEight, for more information, click here

David Wagner is Vice president of Industry Solutions at InEight and serves as a voice of the market for InEight’s Document, Contract and Change solutions. He has more than 20 years of experience developing and marketing capital project management software solutions, with a specific emphasis on construction document management. David provides the necessary insight and expertise to develop strategic solutions that help InEight customers succeed in a highly competitive industry.   

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