When searching for tools to assist in project management, professionals are generally faced with two types. However, many software companies try to market their tools as doing everything, even when they don’t. Two of the most commonly used descriptions for software used to manage construction projects are construction project management and construction document management. A construction document management application is straightforward and self explanatory: it’s a tool used to track project documents. The most basic example is a folder on your computer, ftp site, or web based app like Drop Box. They provide a simple, central repository for storing documents. More advanced document management tools will encompass reporting, ball in court, and stronger levels of permissions control. For example, EADOC contains robust document management capabilities within our project management application. A key shortcoming of stand alone document management applications is that there is no way to report or track costs related to the documents, other then the pdf files and Excel spreadsheets that users upload. Now, many document management applications will call themselves project management applications to expand their potential market, but they are really only managing documents. So, how does someone tell the difference?
To evaluate a project management application you have to look at the basic principals of managing a project. Core components are cost, time, and scope(typically documents like design drawings). A true project management application needs to manage all three. The entire reason for tracking documents is to ensure costs align with the scope and the project stays on schedule. If every project was designed perfectly and came in on time and on budget the role of document management would be much smaller as there would be no need for tracking RFIs, Submittals, punch lists, change orders and everything else that goes into project management. In this happy case a project management application would only need to track schedule, cost, and the original scope. Since our projects do not run this way our project management tools have to manage documents as they justify or support the costs, schedules, and scope. And on projects that are not going well they are to used to justify or defend against changes. Hence your project management application should encompass documents to go with costs.
Given the need for tracking costs, standalone document management systems should only be used as a repository for documents once the project is complete and all costs are finalized. Using construction document management systems during construction is not advisable since it would lead to users having to use multiple disconnected systems. Take a look at how some of our clients are using EADOC’s construction project management application to control documents, costs, and schedule on their projects. Construction project management application deliver a comprehensive tool that allows clients to track and control all their project information so they can mitigate potential cost and schedule impacts ensuring their projects finish on time and on schedule.