Paper Trail Getting Messy? Four Steps to Improving Document Management in Residential Construction

Bolt Paper Trail Getting Messy4 Steps Improve Doc Man Blog

New residential construction comes with plenty of challenges, but paperwork doesn’t have to be one of them.

Some days it seems like residential construction is nothing but paperwork. We have paperwork for every aspect of every job, and then we move on to the next thing and start the process all over again. It is a never-ending challenge.

Just one project includes job requirements, blueprints, work orders, estimates, contracts, and checklists, just to get started.

As the project moves forward, the original plan often changes and must be continuously updated. Then your crews also produce new records such as status reports, materials lists, walk-through checklists, photos and change orders. To wrap up, you’ve got inspections and finally billing and accounting.

Keeping up with all this isn’t just confusing and tedious, it’s expensive. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated in March that spending just one hour a day dealing with paperwork costs construction companies an average of $9,000 a year!

If you’re already investing that kind of cash into a system that doesn’t completely meet your needs, it’s time to consider a new system. Thankfully, today you can take the paper completely out of your day-to-day and make the switch to digital document management. Here’s how it works.

Get rid of the folders

Paper is a tangible thing, and things have to be organized and stored. Most construction companies create a job folder that holds all the paperwork tied to that project. But there are problems with this system:

Folders take up space. So your office likely features a number of filing cabinets, and you’ve developed a system for how to store your folders inside those cabinets.

When there’s a folder, you or your colleagues must be able to easily find that exact folder.

Manually compiling and filing folders inevitably leads to mistakes that can cost money and time. With the potential of hundreds of pieces of documentation misfiled inside every cabinet, are you confident you’d be able to find them again?

With a digital document management solution, there is no paper to keep track of.

Everything needed for a job is stored online (a.k.a. “in the cloud”) where it is always accessible. Ever need to check an order or a work schedule while on the job site? Pull it up with your smartphone (or tablet) in a matter of seconds. You’ll get the answers in less time than it would likely take you just to find the paper folder (assuming it’s not still at the office).

Once a job record is updated by anyone (no matter where they are), the change is saved automatically, is available immediately for anyone to see, and is digitally archived with the job. No more worries about misfiled paperwork.

Eliminate the one-copy problem

Paper can only exist in one place at one time. If the crew completes a job site take-off or a walk-through checklist, someone has to take the paper document back to the office and put it in the file. If builders or supervisors want to know the latest progress, they must call in, leave a request, and wait for someone to look it up and call them back.

This is not efficient for anyone.

With digital document management, if a builder calls to ask about the work schedule, any office employee can quickly look it up online and answer the question. No one has to drop by the office or call around to find a supervisor. And with standard filenames, you can search for information in seconds.

How much would you benefit from having photos or even videos as part of your job records? Back in the day, getting photos was a multi-step process that could take days – and video wasn’t even possible.

Today, digital mobile document management vastly simplifies the whole process. Your teams can save photos and videos into the job record as the work is done on site – just as quickly and easily as a teenager takes and posts a selfie.

Connect everyone in real time

With digital document management, every aspect of the job record and everyone is updated in real time. For example:

  • Materials lists can be updated on the fly and immediately shared with field crew.
  • Supervisors and builders can easily track progress; as soon as a phase is complete, online status is posted.
  • Automatic notifications can update builders, crews, and other subs with crucial details that will continue project momentum.
  • Approvals and responses are accelerated so the job stays on schedule.

Entering details directly online reduces the mistakes and omissions likely to occur when copying hand-written field notes to a paper project file.

Connect everything in real time

Since all your job details are already online, all you need is for your document management system to interact with your other job-critical software such as QuickBooks, Sage 300CRE, Viewpoint Spectrum, ADP Workforce Now, and other major finance and payroll software. With these two systems talking to each other you can:

  • Generate invoices and ensure financial actions aren’t delayed by a backlog of paperwork
  • Accurately produce profit and loss reports for each job using invoiced totals and including material and labor costs.
  • Pay your crews quickly and with no chance for data errors to be introduced

We understand that contractors and office personnel in residential construction approach technology differently and wonder if the shift to going paperless is worth the trouble.

Our customers reply with a resounding YES. One residential trade recently commented: “With Bolt, we’ve eliminated rooms full of file cabinets and can instantly access job site information. We now attract younger talent that would’ve found our previous systems archaic.”

If your considering ditching the clipboards and file cabinets, we’d love to help you make the transition as painless as possible.

Contact us to learn more.