The fact that printing and distributing the masses of paper it takes to construct a project is time consuming and expensive is undeniable. However, the reality is that this paper based distribution system is the industry standard and has been deeply integrated into the way projects are managed.
The evolution of IT infrastructure and new software developments are driving changes that are causing new challenges such as when someone sends you a set of project documents. How do you get that information to the people you need to see them? Take them to a reprographer and print copies, burn them to DVD’s and ship those out or possibly put them on an FTP site and let people download them and do whatever they want.
Let’s take a closer look at what the FTP option is and what it can do. FTP refers to File Transfer Protocol, the protocol for exchanging files over the Internet. FTP is most commonly used to download a file from a server using the Internet or to upload a file to a server (e.g., uploading a drawing file to a server). It is relatively fast and simple to use but it definitely has its limitations. Typically, FTP services are part of your internal network. They are a favourite target for hackers looking for ways to get into networks. If you are concerned about security, and you ought to be, then you have to be particularly careful to manage your FTP properly. FTP services are little more than a digital box that people who have access to them can use to exchange files. There is no viewing, document ordering, access control or other important functions. Administering even a simple site requires someone to issue and manage passwords for every user. An administrator has to pay close attention to what is actually posted as there is no version management and people can end up with the wrong files. Properly organizing and managing the files for a project takes diligence and there is no record whatsoever of who has accessed particular information.
Typical FTP sites are a simple tool but do not in and of themselves constitute a system for document control.