How to Move Toward Paperless Construction Projects

If you’re serious about increasing productivity, it’s time to go digital.

Walk into many construction offices or job site trailers and you’ll find a sea of paper that most likely represents wasted time in the schedule, if only because office and field personnel must spend time searching for what they need — be it current designs, contracts or job progress information — rather than having it at their fingertips.  

Going paperless simply makes sense. It renders information and materials not only easier to access but also easier to use, share and update.

The most important step in making the switch to digital is to implement the most integrated software system the budget can tolerate.

At the higher end of the cost spectrum are systems that tie together accounting, payroll, contract management and field operations. At the other end are programs that address just one or two issues, such as the management of the punch list or safety meetings.

Even small moves toward digitization will increase productivity.

Whether or not the system is integrated, once it’s set up, authorized workers in each department must be trained on how to use it and begin the scanning of new invoices, receipts, purchase orders, requests for information, contracts and other critical documents into the program. In a parallel operation, staff should start scanning existing documents. As a bonus, this is also an opportunity to take a fresh look at the types of paperwork that warrant retention.

To maximize productivity, the program should allow access from devices in the field, such as laptops, smartphones and tablets. Add an app that permits collaboration on digitized plans and the entire project will become more productive as changes are updated in real time. Other authorized usually can access these systems, too, which ensures that all connected subcontractors, design professionals and other project stakeholders can share information and have the most recent plans.

Having to scan paperwork as part of a paperless system can be time consuming and cumbersome, so the ideal document management system will also allow for the issuance and intake of digital documents.

The move away from paper can be unsettling for some, but with the proper instruction and buy-in from top management, employees and partners will appreciate the time savings that accompany a paperless workplace.