Construction Information Technology Blog

Digital documents and the new paradigm for construction professionals

Posted by Dave Robertson on Sep 23, 2010 9:02:00 AM

It’s tough being from an older generation these days. Many of the long established and reliable routines and traditions for construction professionals are changing. Estimators receive a DVD or an ftp address instead of a roll of drawings and specs. Companies are moving to onscreen takeoff rather than the tried and true paper, scale and pencil (maybe an eraser). Invitations to Bid show up in emails rather than coming in to the office on a fax machine. Shop drawings are submitted and reviewed online rather than couriering wads of paper back and forth. The poor courier guy is rarely in the office anymore as there are way fewer shipments. In short, the office environment for construction professionals is changing .... rapidly.

There are really only two responses to this. Either dig in and resist or get on board. The reality is it is like trying to resist rain. It is coming whether you like it or not. The good news is that in today’s electronic world there are many easy technology options available to help you ‘get on board’ if you want to. Software developers today – at least the good ones – are very aware of the need to make their applications user friendly. Easy navigation, less keyboarding, more point and click are the hallmarks of easy to use technology.

In the age of Google it will not be hard for you to find the applications that can make your life and the transition to the digital construction office a simpler and less traumatic experience. Odds are there is someone in your office from a generation that already is comfortable with and in fact expects to have online tools at their disposal. Let them take the lead, do the evaluation of options and give you their best advice on how to proceed. It won’t take long until you see the benefits of increased efficiency, lowered costs and reduced risks.

So ‘dig in’ or not, the option is obviously yours to choose. The choice is obvious.

digital paradigm

Topics: Construction industry, Online bidding, Electronic document management, Shop drawing management

Lost Submittals and Shop Drawings

Posted by Dave Robertson on May 6, 2010 8:39:00 AM

submittal shop drawing scrollsI was copied in on some recent correspondence between one of our clients and an architect they are working with on a project (details removed for privacy).

The conversation is illustrative of the reason so many construction professionals are looking for better ways to manage some of the traditionally paper/courier based processes like submittal and shop drawing review.

ARCHITECT: See attached for submittal review.
CONTRACTOR: Thanks [Architect],
Do you know where the first Mechanical shop dwgs are? They were submitted a month ago. See attached transmittal
ARCHITECT: Hi [Contractor].
The first package came in a box with another submittal, and I did not realize they were in there. I found them late last week and rushed them to [Consultant]. If it’s okay, I’ll have them returned via email. That will be faster.
Have you used PlanSource? Would it be more efficient?
CONTRACTOR: Yes we have been using PlanSource for tendering for about 5 years. They have been trying to get us to use it for shop drawing process but have yet to find an architect to agree. Have you used it before? Would you like to explore it for [Project]. There is a cost so if [Project Architect] agrees we can use the Contractors Contingency Allowance.
ARCHITECT: Let’s talk to [Project Architect] about it tomorrow. I am not great at the whole distribution and courier/tracking system. I find that submittals come in and then get buried on my desk.
I wouldn’t mind trying it.
CONTRACTOR: Hi [PlanSource]
Can you put a quick estimate or proposal together for [Project] for the shop drawing review process and documents so I can present it to [Client]. [Architect] is keen on using it. [Project] is a 12 month project with about 25-30 trades and 10-15 consultants. Let me know if you need any further info.

There are many benefits to online submittal review and tracking not the least of which is no more missing documents. Faster turnaround time, single copy mark-up and review and automated logging and tracking of the review process make it a better process for everyone.

Just to complete the story, the answer to the cost question on this project was “$300 per month or less depending upon actual usage”. The decision was to use the system for the project.

Topics: Construction documents, Electronic document management, Online submittal, Submittals management, Saving time, Shop drawing management