As a construction professional, it’s probably difficult to imagine no longer using paper in your daily activities. We’re talking no more hard copies of plans and specs, invoices, contracts, time sheets, punch lists, contracts or bids.
In a paper-reliant industry like construction, going paperless may seem like a daunting task, but technology is rapidly making paper obsolete and the industry continues to head in that direction. Solutions currently available can make your company more efficient and productive while allowing for easier communication and collaboration.
Here’s a look at some of the ways to put your firm on the path to going paperless:
If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you’ve probably got filing cabinets or file boxes full of project documents, invoices, timesheets, tax documents, etc. Maybe you even have offsite storage for all your paperwork. With paper storage, your documents are susceptible to fire and flood damage as well as theft of confidential information.
A secure cloud storage solution is probably your best bet. Other options include onsite server storage or backing everything up on external hard drives. With a good document software solution, you can easily access any document or associated files with a few keystrokes on the computer rather than having to locate and sort through bulky files.
Plans & Specs
2D paper plans are good, but they pale in comparison when you look at all the additional information that can be provided with BIM models. Augmented reality, tablets, digital plan tables, SMART Boards and wearables like smart hard hats and Microsoft’s HoloLens will make paper plans and specs obsolete one day. Why bother with 2D plans when you can immerse yourself in 3D images that provide you with exploded views detailing all the building components with additional information like cost, time and scheduling.
With digital plans the ability to always have instant access to the most up-to-date drawings becomes a reality, something paper plans will never be able to accomplish. Digital plans and BIM models allow for better project collaboration because all parties can view and either make or suggest changes as the drawings progress, making for a better end product.
Keeping up with your employees’ paper time sheets can be a real hassle. Not only do you have to make sure they’ve all been filled out and completed properly, you also have to get them safely back to the office so your HR or accounting personnel can get them entered and processed to pay your employees.
Mobile solutions allow you to schedule, monitor and make corrections to time cards without all the messy paperwork. Some mobile time clock solutions also allow you to integrate with your current payroll software which will save you time and money.
Project Management & Documentation
There are a slew of software solutions and mobile apps that have been developed for the construction industry to manage and document both your projects and your entire construction business. Paper processes such as daily logs, punch lists, requests for information, estimating and takeoffs can all be replaced with currently available software and mobile apps which you can easily access from a smartphone or tablet.
If you are considering the transition to a paperless firm the best advice is to start small. Eliminate one or two paper processes to begin with so you can measure the benefits and cost savings. Over time, you can gradually replace other paper-reliant processes at your own pace.