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Posts Tagged ‘ECM’

Posted on: April 29th, 2013
by Chad Evenrud

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Construction Software: Electronic Content Management

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When the average person thinks of the construction industry they imagine bright yellow hardhats, loud hammering noises, white trucks and a whole mess of other sights and sounds.  What the average person doesn’t know is the convoluted and hectic process that occurs on the administration side.  Office administrators are overwhelmed with endless paperwork, collaboration between departments, compliance issues, payroll problems and dealing with stubborn project managers/subcontractors.  The life cycle of documents handled in the office is just as important as the construction project itself.

In response to this dilemma, the industry has turned to technology to help aid their administration personnel with document management, retrieval and collaboration.  Construction software delivers a process known as Electronic Content Management (ECM).  This article will go over the basics of ECM and if you should take the time to invest in an ECM solution. 


What is Electronic Content Management (ECM)? 

Electronic Content Management “is the strategies, methods and tools used to capture, manage, store, preserve, and deliver content and documents related to organizational processes. ECM tools and strategies allow the management of an organization’s unstructured information, wherever that information exists.” (1)  This includes the entire life cycle of a document and in the construction industry a document life cycle is critical when it comes to bidding, completing, closing, payroll, compliance and auditing.  ECM allows companies to manage all their documents electronically, making it easier to scan, store, retrieve, share and purge documents; eliminating the expensive and time consuming paper processes.   

Why Should Companies Implement Construction Software and ECM? 

Anyone who knows the construction industry understands that in this economy it is an industry with thin net profits, high risk and noteworthy inconsistency.  Which means construction companies must be more productive in both operations and administration departments.  This is where construction software that delivers ECM can help. 

ECM helps bridge the gap between multiple departments and operations.  ECM makes the collaboration process much more efficient, by generating electronic workflows between all departments.  Employees can now store, retrieve, send and view any document with just a click of the mouse button.  This allows employees and departments to be more efficient, allowing your company to grow without increasing overhead.     

Is implementing ECM right for you?

Before implementing construction software that utilizes ECM, it is important to ask yourself is it worth the investment.  Below are a list of questions that you should ask before making the jump to a paperless office.

1)       Is the software compatible with my current construction software?

Before implementing new software, make sure that it has the capability to interact with your current software.  For example, most paperless software solutions will be able to work directly with your accounting system by updating contacts, jobs and vendors.  This will eliminate duplicate entry and other timely tasks.  

2)      What are some of the processes that you would want to automate?

Brainstorm with your administration and operations staff to determine what are some of the most tedious time consuming processes.  Once you have a list, then consult with a software representative to see if their software can generate a workflow to help automate your troublesome processes.

3)      Is your administration and operations personnel eager and willing to undertake change?


You can spend thousands of dollars on the newest and greatest software, however if your personnel is not willing to learn, then you will be wasting your money.  This is a common problem with most construction companies.  You can tell if your team is ready to move to a paperless office by asking them simple questions and listening to their response.  For example, if you hear your employees saying “this is how it has always been done” or “there is nothing wrong with our current process”; if you hear these kind of remarks, then you might want to review your personnel first.

4)      Are you running an office that is half automated and half paper intensive?

It is expensive to run an office that is using software for some processes and paper for the other processes.  This is where ECM can help make your office more efficient and paperless.  Not all construction software interacts with all departments within the company.  For example, a software may be efficient in helping your accounting department, but lacks processes for your HR department.  ECM will allow all departments to scan, store, manage, retrieve and purge documents.

The most important thing to understand about technology is it is meant to help make our world more efficient.  For the construction industry, the burden comes with the large amount of paperwork, compliance procedures, risk management, scheduling, auditing and dealing with questionable vendors.  Construction software allows your company to handle those paper-intensive procedures in a more efficient manner.  Take the time and talk with your company’s personnel and determine if your company will benefit by implementing an ECM solution.           

1) AAIM:  http://www.aiim.org/