The Journey to a Paperless Construction Company

Going PaperlessThe Journey to a Paperless Construction Company

In 2008, my team started an addition at Broward Health’s Imperial Point Medical Center.  Our company had a very detailed filing structure, if you wanted to find something and we knew exactly where to find it.  But filing, making files & storing them was taking up many hours in our week, not to mention, our file storage warehouse was bursting at the seams.   This led us to start looking at using our Sharp Copier/Scanners to their fullest capacity.  As a company, we worried that we would not be as efficient or even worse, what if we lost a document.  These are all valid concerns and something that companies need to consider before going paperless.

The first step I took was to analyze our filing structure and translate that into a Windows filing structure.  I knew that we needed to feel comfortable with our digital filing for it to be successful.  Secondly, don’t expect for to go live company-wide all on the same day.  Old habits die hard.   You will have to prove the benefits before you toss out the filing cabinet.  We used the Broward Health – Imperial Point Medical Center, Emergency Department as our case study.  I got the green light from the boss and our team started scanning and filing the documents in the same format that we used for paper files.  At the end of the project, we had only a handful of documents/drawings that needed to be stored.

We proved scanning to be successful and the system started spreading to our other projects.  With the spread of going paperless, we also encountered new challenges.  Our three main challenges were:

  • Consistency / Logic – Files were not named the same by different employees.  As our company grew it was also harder to train new employees on the filing structure.  We started encountering a consistency issue from project to project.
  • Security – Whether you have hard copies or digital copies, security is always an issue.  However with paperless, one click could accidentally delete hundreds of documents.
  • Time Management – Just like with paper filing, you have to put the time in your schedule to file.  In the case of paperless, some employees were scanning in documents but not always renaming & storing them in the project files.

These main challenges led us to search for a Document Management Software.

It took us over a year of research and one failed attempt with the wrong software to find the perfect software for our needs.  At the end we went with Intact Smart by Info Dynamics.  They offered us software that addressed our challenges plus allowed for document routing, versioning, document tools similar to Adobe Writer and more.  With tons of programming by yours truly, I was able to implement the software to securely and easily store our documents.  Furthermore we were able to link the documents to our SQL databases (Project Management & Accounting Software) to pull details that attribute the document.  An added benefit was that our documents now have built-in optical character recognition to allow content searching.  The software surpassed our expectations and transformed the way we store, retrieve and manage our data.

Going paperless seems tailor made for the construction industry.  After all many of us work remotely from a jobsite trailer or even from home into wee hours of the night.  It makes sense that many companies like ours decide to go paperless.  However, the journey to paperless can be bumpy.  There is one main question to keep in mind when implementing any new technology or method to your company, which is “is this better for us?”   We look at efficiency, cost effectiveness & improved employee interface.  As we evolved, we made sure that each change streamlined our workflow, lowered our bottom line & even though there was a learning curve it improved our overall performance.


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