November 6, 2023

Overcoming the Closing-Out Challenge in Construction Projects With Purpose-Built Document Management Solutions

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Overcoming the Closing-Out Challenge in Construction Projects With Purpose-Built Document Management Solutions

By implementing a purpose-built solution architecture and embracing automation and intelligent systems, construction projects can overcome the challenges of document management, ensuring a smooth and compliant closing-out phase.

Document management in Advanced Work Packaging (AWP) is pivotal to the successful closing-out of construction projects.

In AWP, the consolidation and organization of a myriad of documents, some of which may be in the process of creation, become a cornerstone for successful project delivery. We've spoken to Tim Fleet from Idox who outlined the intricacies involved in managing versions and ensuring the seamless integration of documents from varied sources and formats. Colin Wilson from Adlib further elaborated on these challenges, emphasizing the need for efficient processing of a large influx of documents, diverse in format and origin, at the project's kickoff.

The closing-out phase in construction projects is fraught with potential pitfalls, including payment delays, project overruns, and legal complications. Addressing these issues head-on is imperative to ensure the project’s timeline, financial stability, and compliance with regulatory standards. Our goal is to equip professionals involved in AWP with the knowledge and tools necessary to streamline their document management processes, mitigate risks, and ensure a smooth transition from project completion to client handover.


Identifying the Challenges in Document Management During AWP

challenges in document management in AWP

Complexity in Document Collation

Professionals are required to aggregate a variety of documents, encompassing those still in the drafting phase, and organize them meticulously to form comprehensive packages. This process demands a keen eye for detail and a robust management system to ensure that every piece of the puzzle fits perfectly.

One of the predominant challenges in this context is version control. Given the dynamic nature of construction projects, documents are perpetually updated and revised. This necessitates a foolproof system to track changes, manage versions, and ensure that the most up-to-date and accurate documents are included in the final package. Mismanagement in this arena could lead to significant discrepancies, misinformation, and potential project delays.

Furthermore, managing documents within packages is no small feat. Each document, regardless of its stage of completion, needs to be correctly linked and positioned within the package. This ensures a structured and coherent flow of information, facilitating easier navigation and comprehension for all stakeholders involved.

Managing Various Formats and Sources

The diversity in document formats presents another layer of complexity to the document management process in AWP. Professionals encounter a wide array of formats, from text files and spreadsheets to PDFs and images. Each format requires specific handling and conversion tools to maintain uniformity and accessibility across the board.

In addition to format diversity, the multitude of sources and locations from which documents originate adds to the management conundrum. Documents may arrive via emails, cloud storage, physical mail, or direct uploads. Each channel demands a tailored approach to ensure swift and error-free processing.

A large number of documents are coming into the system and being able to process those in a timely fashion, trying to automate that process to minimize the amount of manual labor involved is becoming challenging. It is also challenging to handle multiple formats of documents and to make them available to people in such a way that it's simple and easy for them to access and navigate the documents. Often, key documents may not even exist yet, but the team may have the building blocks of those documents that need to be merged together to give you the final work packet.

- Colin Wilson, Intelligent Document Processing Solution Expert, Adlib Software


The Impacts of Getting Document Management Wrong

Effective document management is pivotal in construction projects, especially during the closing-out phase. When this process is mismanaged, the ramifications can be severe and far-reaching, affecting various facets of the project.

Delays in Payments and Project Extensions

One of the immediate and most tangible impacts of poor document management is the delay in payments. Contractors, subcontractors, and other stakeholders rely on timely payments for their services, which are often contingent on the submission and approval of various documents.

In many construction projects, the challenge is closing it out at the end. There's a lot of packaging involved in the handover of documentation. Your client will rely heavily on the deliverables in order to provide evidence that you've completed the works. And without the right control over the packaging process, you can be left exposed to delays in terms of being paid and projects extensions beyond where you want them to.

- Tim Fleet, Document Management Expert, Idox

Legal and Regulatory Issues

The construction industry is bound by a web of legal and regulatory requirements, many of which are tied to the proper documentation of project activities. Incomplete, inaccurate, or improperly managed documents can lead to non-compliance, opening the door to legal ramifications. From building permits and safety regulations to contractual obligations, every piece of paper holds significance. Failure to adhere to these regulations due to document mismanagement can result in hefty fines, legal disputes, and a tarnished reputation.

Also, proper documentation plays a critical role in dispute resolution. Construction projects are susceptible to disputes, given their complex nature and the multitude of stakeholders involved. In such scenarios, well-managed documents act as a source of truth, providing clear evidence to resolve disputes swiftly and fairly. When these documents are mismanaged, it complicates the resolution process, prolonging disputes, and straining professional relationships.

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A Document Management Strategy Is the Foundation AWP Is Built On

Building a Purpose-Built Solution Architecture

A strong and well-thought-out document management architecture ensures success. A purpose-built solution for document transformation within your document management strategy ensures that every document, irrespective of its format or source, follows a predefined workflow, minimizing the risks of errors and omissions.

This architecture needs to be robust enough to accommodate the vast array of document types and formats associated with construction projects while being flexible enough to adapt to project-specific requirements.

from manual document workflows
In a manual environment, you will have many different document types and formats coming into your processing system in many different ways. A PM team then will apply logic to them such as convert to PDF, merge them to create new documents, make documents searchable for easier information surfacing. And then PMs will need to get these documents where they need to go. As you can see from this diagram, it can be a really complex environment, a very complex workflow. This example has quite a lot of manual potential, manual effort and a lot of potential for error. It would be really nice if we can add some form of automation so we can automatically bring in the documents from whatever source, identify the document type, run it through the necessary assembly steps, and then provide the outputs to the relevant location or the relevant people within the workflow.

- Colin Wilson, Intelligent Document Processing Solution Expert, Adlib Software

Embracing Automation and Intelligent Systems

Automation and intelligent systems are the linchpins in achieving efficiency and accuracy in document management. Pre-processing automation involves locating, importing, and recognizing documents. This is a critical first step in ensuring that all documents are captured and brought into the workflow.

Following this, intelligent automation comes into play. This involves classifying documents and extracting critical data. Techniques such as Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are instrumental in this phase. OCR helps in converting different types of documents into editable and searchable data, while AI ensures the intelligent classification and extraction of data.

to automated data workflows
document of record

Adlib Software has the ability to take incoming documentation from content management applications, from internal external storage, from web APIs, and to provide you with an audit-ready, machine-readable Document of Record enriched with critical metadata if it's not already present. Then, to classify the document and place it into the appropriate folder within Idox [or any other system].

- Colin Wilson, Intelligent Document Processing Solution Expert, Adlib Software

However, the introduction of automation does not eliminate the need for human oversight. The human-in-the-loop approach ensures that there is a continuous feedback loop for the AI systems, leading to continuous improvement and high confidence in data extraction.

Documents may come in that are new to the AI model so having the human in the loop is a key aspect of this. Within Adlib AI you can send a document such as this for human to identify it and to tell the AI model what the correct answer is.

- Colin Wilson, Intelligent Document Processing Solution Expert, Adlib Software

By implementing a purpose-built solution architecture and embracing automation and intelligent systems, construction projects can overcome the challenges of document management, ensuring a smooth and compliant closing-out phase. These strategies not only mitigate the risks associated with document mismanagement but also pave the way for efficiency, accuracy, and success in construction projects.


Architecture for Successful Project Closing

A successful project closing in construction requires a well-documented project package and a well-structured architecture that guides the process from start to finish. This involves creating a clear and consistent structure for the package, utilizing advanced systems for tracking and managing documents, and ensuring a transparent and straightforward delivery to the client.

Defining the Structure for the Package Using Templates Based on Package Type

This is where templates come into play, providing a standardized framework that can be tailored to suit different types of packages. By using templates based on package type, teams can ensure that all necessary documents are included and arranged in a logical order, streamlining the process and reducing the likelihood of errors or omissions. This approach saves time and enhances the overall quality and consistency of the document package.

Using Systems Like Idox for Tracking Document Completeness and Managing Changes

Implementing advanced systems like Idox is the best choice for tracking the completeness of documents and managing any changes that occur throughout the project. Idox system provide a centralized platform for monitoring progress, ensuring that nothing is overlooked, and maintaining a single version of the truth.

Ensuring Clear Delivery of Package Contents to the Client

The final step in the architecture for successful project closing is ensuring a clear and straightforward delivery of the package contents to the client. This involves not only providing all necessary documents but also ensuring that they are presented in a user-friendly manner, facilitating easy access and navigation.

auto-generated construction work pack completeness report

Often when I speak to clients, I find that they are managing [the contents of the package] with a spreadsheet in a very complex manner. On the other hand, the Idox system is taking the input, taking the links to documents or links to documents that will exist in the future along with scheduling information and automatically organizes this into a cover sheet. This way you have a simple medium, a very clear way, of delivering the contents of the package and the state of completeness that package is.

- Tim Fleet, Document Management Expert, Idox

In Closing

Creating a document of record and delivering a comprehensive, well-structured package is the capstone of this process. It’s about combining different document types and ensuring that everything is archive-ready. 

The architecture for successful project closing, laid out in templates and supported by seamless integration between Idox & Adlib, ensures a smooth, transparent delivery of package contents to the client. This approach safeguards against potential pitfalls but also cements the trust between construction firms and their clients, paving the way for successful project completions and future collaborations. All puns inteded!

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