The first section of our four-part buyers guide to document imaging management systems identifies the problems and business processes that these products aim to address.
Architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) businesses have always operated in a paper-intensive environment. Projects begin with blueprints, designs and construction details, followed by takeoffs, estimates, bids, submittals, contracts, subcontracts, change orders, punch lists, inspection forms, invoices and the rest of the seemingly never-ending list. There are also other data types, such as emails and job photos, which need to be tracked, attached to jobs and managed through their life cycles.
The volume of documents, though, is just the beginning. Each item needs to be mailed, emailed, or faxed to at least one other person; marked up, signed, re-drawn, corrected or changed; re-distributed, and, finally, filed. The other constant challenge, of course, is tracking changes in these documents and managing them so any number of interested parties can be assured they are looking at the most recent revision. When there is doubt about the correctness, source, or accuracy of these documents, that in turn adds to the time it takes for decisions to be made, often resulting in costly mistakes.
Most enterprise packages that offer end-to-end systems for AEC business include some functionality for document management. Sometimes it is built into the project management portion of the software; other times the functionality is in a stand-alone module that integrates with the rest of the package. Some companies, such as Aboutscan
, and Dit Solutions
, further specialize in custom document imaging and management software. (There are no doubt similar vendors in your area.)
But companies that don’t use enterprise software tend to find such systems lacking or prefer a stand-alone method of managing these details. For them, one solution is in-house imaging software, or, as it is alternatively called, document management software.
In its simplest form, document imaging management software helps people interact efficiently with the volume of documentation associated with building things. As the building process moves toward more collaborative effort among all stakeholders, each player needs to handle an increased volume of documentation.
The promises of building information modeling (BIM
) and integrated project delivery (IPD
) rely on an increasingly complicated web of data, much in the traditional form but increasingly more in a purely digital form. That has caused many companies to pay attention to how documents flow both inside and outside their organizations.
is one case in point. “Mortenson’s software evaluation process begins with understanding what our architect, engineer, and subcontractor partners utilize in their design and documentation workflow,” said Cole Orndorff, chief information officer. “The software we choose is driven by the ability to collaborate, enabling our project teams to manage electronic data starting at the design phase, through construction and owner delivery.”