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The Challenge of Exchanging Paper Documents in Construction

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The construction industry loves its paper. On just a single project, there are many documents that must be exchanged such as contracts, notices, pay apps, lien waivers, and more.

One could also say construction industry is behind the curve of adopting new technology. So it’s no surprise then that many folks in the construction business continue to exchange these documents manually (or via fax).

This article will discuss how construction industry can incorporate technology to help streamline the process of electronically exchanging these documents in order to save paper and make exchanges easier.

Why So Much Paper in Construction?

Let’s begin by taking a minute to discuss why there is such a big need to use paper in the construction business in the first place. It all starts with the overriding need to document everything — or in other words, to “get it in writing.” This begins with the written contract (getting it in writing is something that we strongly recommend), but then includes all of the project change orders (which also must be in writing).

The use of paper only gets worse when it comes to construction payments, where notices, pay apps, waivers, and more must all be put down on paper.  Last but not least, almost all of these documents must be signed by the appropriate parties, and in order to get multiple parties to sign a document, that’s going to require that document to be transferred back and forth between the parties.

There are a lot of problems that arise from using paper when exchanging important documents. Some of the problems are as follows:

  • Paper is expensive
  • Amount of time filling out paper forms
  • Postage expenses
  • Paper gets lost
  • Paper gets dirty
  • If it is incomplete or inaccurate, paper doesn’t know

Why Not Exchange Documents Electronically?

Transferring documents on paper seems outdated in this day in age, especially since using paper isn’t necessary to exchange documents! You are living in the twenty-first century! Instead of using paper, you can electronically exchange documents. In a survey by AIIM, 46% of the respondents believed that biggest productivity improvement came from removing paper. Don’t you want to be more productive?

From creating a new document to its delivery, there are vast benefits from exchanging documents electronically. There is no printing, scanning or sorting of these files. Additionally, an electronic document can be sent directly after it is completed and delivered almost instantaneously. Electronically exchanging documents streamlines the process of exchanging documents which will save you time and money and even increase productivity.

Start Small with Email

Even just using email to electronically exchanging documents can go a long way. Imagine if a construction company began to use email to exchange documents. It can cut the exchange process from several weeks to several days!

Chances are, most folks in the industry have access to Microsoft Office (or something similar). The office programs Word and Excel both allow users to save documents as an Adobe .pdf. This allows for easy emailing.

You can even capture electronic signatures in .pdf documents which further eases the burden.


Further Reading

When Your Project Partners Prefer Paper Over Email

Construction Contracts – Beware of Certain Clauses


Conclusion

The most important thing about making a change in the way you do business is to start with an honest assessment of where you are. If you are still exchanging everything on paper via “snail mail” or hand delivery, then you may want to start by trying to exchange .pdf versions of your documents via email. And if you’re more advanced, than it might be time for you to look at a more robust technology solution such as zlien.

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Summary
The Challenge of Exchanging Paper Documents in Construction
Article Name
The Challenge of Exchanging Paper Documents in Construction
Description
Because there are many different types of documents that must be exchanged on a single construction project, exchanging these documents electronically can have big benefits. Find out how utilizing technology can help save time and money exchanging documents on your projects.
Author
Publisher Name
zlien
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Published on Apr 30, 2018

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Abigail is a legal intern at zlien and a current law student at Tulane University Law School. She is a graduate of Tulane University (B.A.). Before joining zlien, Abigail interned for a pro bono law firm, Public Counsel, in Los Angeles. She also interned for Congressman Jared Polis’ District Office in Boulder, CO.

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