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The buildings we work in, play in, live in – and even those we park our cars in – are far more sophisticated than most buildings constructed just 10 years ago. While today’s buildings still contain offices, rooms, hallways or parking spaces, they are built to be smart.

They optimize their energy use, collect water from their rooftops, make better use of space, incorporate futuristic new materials in their construction, recycle the waste they generate, use the power of the earth to heat and cool their interiors, and possess “intelligence” to manage these processes.

The newest skyscrapers built from San Francisco to Shanghai are engineering marvels, wildly different from one another, deeply complex and highly sustainable. Yet, we never really think about how the documents and other content used to design and build them must be equally sophisticated.

No matter where they are or what they contain, documents are the lifeblood of the construction process and are a necessity for every one of the thousands of people who work on these structures. From the architect struggling to convey an aesthetic vision to the supplier who needs to deliver drywall on the fifth floor, a drawing often determines what happens next.

With a vested interest in understanding how those documents are used, ARC Document Solutions recently commissioned a study to quantify the affect document management has on the productivity, efficiency and costs of construction project management. The AEC Technology Study was conducted by research marketing company, Newlio, and was based on responses from 108 architecture, engineering and construction management professionals using an email invitation and an online survey. Forty percent of the respondents had more than 15 years of experience in the construction industry. Executives came from both large enterprises of 1,000 people or more, and small boutique firms of 10 people or less.

  • Seventy-five percent said up to one-third of project cost overruns are due to project document difficulties and related issues.
  • Thirty-three percent found accessing the latest set of documents and having the most current information to be a challenge in completing an AEC project.
  • Nearly 40 percent said online access for all documents on any device platform is one of the most important factors in increasing their company’s productivity or in reducing costs.
  • Twenty-five percent said inaccurate project paperwork or too many versions of documents has contributed to a construction delay.
The need for a specialized industry solution is illustrated by further results from the study.

  • Nearly one in three (30.1 percent) AEC professionals said current cloud technology tools that are not designed for the AEC market made completing a project on schedule a challenge.
  • Nearly one in four AEC professionals (22.3 percent) said the use of multiple technology tools without streamlined integration negatively impacted project efficiency.
  • Nearly one-third of AEC professionals (30.1 percent) said using multiple software tools during a construction or design project caused duplication of data.
  • Nearly one-third of AEC professionals (29.1 percent) said multiple software programs caused redundancy and wasted staff time.
  • Version control and security around current methods for managing documents were also key points of concern, with 32 percent of respondents expressing apprehension over the use of the wrong versions of building plans, 30 percent worried that documents could be erased or not backed up, and 25 percent were concerned with document confidentiality.
More than 30 percent of AEC professionals surveyed also identified the following challenges to completing their projects:

  • communicating with project members that are in the field;
  • accessing the latest set of documents and having the most current information;
  • using technology that isn't designed for the AEC market; and
  • keeping up with a high volume of paperwork.
Documents are everywhere in construction. They are part of the landscape and their vital importance to project efficiency is often taken for granted – even by the very users of those documents. However, as this survey suggests, documents drive the construction process. In the absence of an efficient and productive way to manage those documents, the construction process is fraught with errors, delays, budget overruns and even litigation. Can the cloud save construction document management? The survey says…it can.

[caption id="attachment_5544" align="aligncenter" width="308"]Click to see the full infographic. Click to see the full infographic. or Download the infographic[/caption]

For more information about the AEC Technology Survey, contact Kerman Kassad at kerman.kasad@e-arc.com or call (778) 928-6670.
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