Almost every project, and in particular engineering and construction projects, will always have a designated room, called the File Room, that will be used to file and store the original copies of all project’s communications. The filing structure could vary from one organization to another and even from one project to another based on past experience and project’s requirements. Each File Room would usually a provision for reading table as files and documents stored in each file are not allowed to be taken outside the File Room. There will be also a log register to detail who have accessed the room. There will be a designated administrator who will be responsible for the File Room.
File Rooms will never disappear, at least in the near future, as contract agreements continue to require having printed, signed and stamped project communication for them to become admissible in the court and other legal tribunes. Nevertheless, there are few challenges that organizations face in managing documents stored in File Rooms. Those include documents that are either stored in the wrong folder and not stored in all folders that it needs to be stored at, documents that were taken out to be copied but not returned to the right folder or right location within a folder, how to add notes and comments made to the stored documents, how to search for specific documents, how to find the relation between one document and another, how to have details on the project team members who were involved in reviewing specific project documents among many others.
Project Management Information System (PMIS) technology can add great value for addressing all those File Room challenges and improve the management of projects’ documents that need to be kept for many years after the project completion. Actually, in some countries like the UAE, documents that have financial implications need to be kept 15 years after the project is completed.
PMWeb PMIS comes ready with its own document management repository that will eliminate all of the current challenges faced by organizations in maintaining their projects’ File Rooms. Of course, PMWeb is also the solution that will be used to create and generate all of the project’s communications that organizations would need to store in the File Room. Nevertheless, what will be assumed in this article is that the organization does not use any of the PMWeb modules to generate the project’s communications. We will assume that the organization’s involved in the project are fulfilling the project’s communication requirements using hard copies which will be scanned and saved as PDF files to maintain an electronic version.
Building Your Projects Repository
PMWeb allows the organization to upload the documents and communications across their complete projects portfolio. This means that document and communication upload should be limited to active projects but could also include completed projects where there could be claims or disputes yet to be finalized. It can also projects that are still in the defects liability period where documents and communications still continue to be transmitted. Projects could also include projects that are still on hold as well as cancelled projects. PMWeb allows capturing the details of all those projects as it allows having unlimited number of projects regardless of the number of users authorized to use PMWeb.
Creating the Project Directory
It is important to have a directory of all companies and individuals who could be involved in a project. Those individuals could be the one who are generating the project’s documents and communications as well as be part of the review and approval process. PMWeb companies’ module allows add those companies and individuals and make them available for all the organization’s projects. The data that can be captured for each company is very extensive and can be designed by the organization.
Developing the Project Filing Structure
The Construction Specification Institute (CSI) has developed a filing structure for engineering and construction projects. Organization can use this structure as a starting point where they can modify it to meet their own project requirements. The CSI file structure has a number of levels which will be mapped into separate folders. The list below details level 1.
01.0 Project Contracts
02.0 Cost Information
03.0 Personnel Information
04.0 Chronological Information
07.0 Communication Reports
08.0 Meeting Reports
09.0 Field Observation Reports
10.0 Test and Inspection Reports
11.0 Project Specific Information
12.0 Shop Drawings, Product Data, Samples
13.0 Contract Document Interpretations
14.0 Construction Closeout
15.0 Project Specific Information
16.0 Feedback Forms
20.0 Post-Construction Site Visits
For 01.0 Project Contracts, the filing structure will be further detailed to include the following folders. The same approach will be followed with other folders. Actually, one of the recommended practices is that to include on each project communication the reference for the File Room folder were this project communication needs to be stored at.
01.01 Copy Owner-A/E Agreement
01.02 Copy of A/E-Consultant Agreement
01.03 Copy of Extra Services Agreements
01.04 Copy of Owner/Contractor Agreement
01.04.01 Notice of Award
01.04.02 Notice to Proceed
01.05 Procurement Information
01.05.01 Bid Form
01.05.02 Bid Tabulation Form
01.05.06 Subcontractor List
01.06.01 Bid Bond
01.06.02 Performance Bond
01.06.03 Advance Payment Bond
01.07 Certificates of Insurance
Using PMWeb document management repository, the organization will create all those file folders and subfolders. Access rights can be set to each folder and subfolder to restrict access for authorized users only. PMWeb allows copying and pasting folders that could have been done earlier when needed.
In addition, PMWeb allows the project team member to subscribe for RSS Feed Service to receive notifications when documents/revisions are added, when documents are checked in/out, when documents are moved out/deleted and or when documents are downloaded. Notifications can be received via email or from within PMWeb.
Upload Documents and Communications
Now PMWeb is ready for the organization to upload the project documents and communications to its intended folder or subfolder. Of course, there is no reason why a company cannot be uploaded to one or more folders. PMWeb allows uploading multiple project documents and communication to the desired folder or subfolder at the same time. Although there is no restriction the type of file to be uploaded into PMWeb nevertheless many organization tend to restrict loading some file types that are executable.
Document Attributes and Custom Fields
To better describe and understand the uploaded document, PMWeb allows the user to add what is known as document attributes. In addition, it allows defining user defined custom fields to add more values and text notes for the uploaded documents. Predefined lists of values can be created for the document attributes and user defined fields to enable the document controller from selecting the values that are related to each specific document and project communication.
Adding Text Notes
In addition, all text notes and remarks that are usually added by the project team members to the uploaded documents and communications can be added using the notes option. For each note, PMWeb will capture the details of when it was added and by who and if it was edited, when and by who. Since PMWeb allows rich text, those notes can be formatted in a desired format.
Attaching and Linking Documents and Communications to Other Documents and Communications
Should a document or communication have a reference for another project document or communication, PMWeb allows attaching those documents and communications to that particular document or communication. PMWeb also allows creating links with other documents and communications that are not stored on PMWeb document management repository as well as add hyperlinks to websites. Another important feature that is also available when PMWeb function to import emails from the mail server into the PMWeb email repository, is to link those emails to the stored document or communications.
Importing Emails from Mail Server to PMWeb
PMWeb also allows importing the project related email communications into the PMWeb email inbox. This required setting PMWeb to read those emails from the email application mail server. Those imported emails will then become available to be linked to other PMWeb documents and communications that had been uploaded into the document management repository as described above.
Document and Communication Redline
For those who need to have the option to redline the uploaded document or communication by adding notes and remarks, then PMWeb viewer will be used to achieve this. The viewer can be set to have different colors for different users where their comments will be added in layers. In addition, PMWeb allows creating hyperlinks to other PMWeb records on the document itself nevertheless this function is not relevant as PMWeb modules and records are not in use over here.
It is something very common in projects for documents to have different versions. This is very true for drawings and business requirements documents. PMWeb Check Out and Check In functions allows the authorized user to Check Out the document to be revised, revise it and save it under the same file name and then Check In the document. PMWeb allows setting the document to show all versions or only the last version.
PMWeb document search allows the user to search for a document or communication based on the file name, document attributes or content of the file if it is readable. This will expedite the search and locate of specific project documents or communications without the need to access the folder or subfolder where one expects that it will be stored at. This is an important feature when the organization is searching for the documents or communications to support the submission of a claim or prepare the response to the counter claim.
Document and Communication Collaboration
To ensure that the right project team members are made aware of all documents and communications uploaded into PMWeb document management repository, the workflow option will be used. PMWeb allows creating unlimited number of conditional workflows where the workflow can branch and direct the document or communication to different team members depending on the attributes and user defined values assigned for each document or communication. The document controller needs only to submit the document and communication and PMWeb will circulate those documents and communications to their intended recipients.
In addition to the fact that each user on the workflow steps can add his or her own comments on the workflow comments box, PMWeb also provides two additional options for getting the feedback from those reviewing the document or communication. The first option is a quick 5-point rating (5 very important and 1 is not) where each project team member can provide his or her rating along with a note on why this rating was given.
Nevertheless, PMWeb also provides the option for more structured and formal method to assess and score the importance of each uploaded document or communication. PMWeb scoring option allows the organization to define the list of items that each document or communication needs to be assessed against. Those could be based on answers from predefined list of values, Yes or No, Date, Value, among others. For each item, there will be available number of points to score from, say 5 points, as well as a weight for each score item. This will ensure having a weighted score value for each uploaded document of communication.
PMWeb also provide a very proactive method for capturing actions on project documents using what is known as Checklists. Through this option, the organization can design different checklists for different type of project documents where each checklist will have list of tasks to be performed by project team as it relates to the uploaded document or communication. Those checklists could include for example if notification to be sent as per the contract agreement among others.
Sometimes, there could be a need to share the uploaded document or communication with project team members that could be part of the workflow or not as well as with other individuals who might not be PMWeb users. In this case, PMWeb notification will be used to share the document or communication with those individuals by sending a notification email along with the document or communication.
Formal Transmission of Uploaded Documents and Communications
Should the organization need to have formal process for transmitting the documents and communications uploaded into PMWeb document management repository, then the PMWeb Transmittal Module needs to be used. A new transmittal can be created and then the relevant uploaded documents and communications will be attached to the transmittal to be submitted. A workflow can be assigned to transmittal in case there is a need to share those documents and communications online.
Nevertheless, if the organization just want to generate the transmittal and print it to become the cover transmittal letter for the documents and communications to be submitted, then the user can print the transmittal form. The form can be designed in any shape or format to match the organization branding and project management processes.
Reporting on Uploaded Documents and Communications
The data captured from each uploaded document or communication will become available for Business Intelligence (BI) reporting from within PMWeb itself using SQL Reporting Services or by using other applications like MS Power BI. Reports can be created to provide a log of all uploaded documents and communications. The report can group and order data in the desired format as well as include filters to select the needed documents or communications to be reported on. The user can drilldown to the source document or communication if a link is created as shown below.
In addition, graphical reports and dashboards can be created to analyze the volume of project’s documents and communications which can be grouped by type, category, status on any other desired option. The data captured in the PMWeb document management repository will provide the organization with the real-time information to have the insight to make better and faster informed decisions.