ConstructionOnline Blog

The Ultimate Guide to Construction Document Management

Between contracts, drawings, safety reports, photos, and the countless other construction documents, there is plenty for construction professionals to have to manage. The way a company manages construction documents and other files and photos is crucial for success. The good news? It’s simpler to manage than it seems. With these five quick tips, construction document control is easier than ever. 

1. Go Paperless

Save the trees (and a lot of headache) by transitioning to a digital file system. There are several benefits to going paperless in your business. It is more efficient and sustainable in the long run. Printing, storing, and managing paper documents incur other expenses for things like materials, storage space, and maintenance. Digital formats are cheaper, better, and faster.

With the sheer number of blueprints, submittals, photos, contracts, selections, and other documents that are required for just a single project, physical documents are destined to go missing. Not to mention, paper documents can get ruined. Even if you have the best paper file management on the planet, someone could easily spill a coffee on that really important contract you had on your desk…

Printed documents can be convenient for reference. However, whenever construction documents are printed, make sure that a digital copy is easily accessible. Clients prefer digital documents as well. It’s much easier to keep up with documents, signed contracts, selections, and other important project files when they are kept on a computer or electronic device. The documents are protected and there is a paper(less) trail to protect your company as an added bonus.

2. Put it in the Cloud

“The Cloud” refers to web-based storage. Going paperless is not enough to keep your documents fully secure. Keeping files and photos on a single local device like a computer hard drive runs the risk of the computer malfunctioning and losing all of those files. Not only that, but the only access anyone would have to those documents would be from that specific device. 


Instead, opt for keeping files and photos on a web-based platform, or in “the cloud”. It’s not a bad choice to keep file copies on a local device, but it is important to have important information stored in a cloud-based structure in case anything happens to your device. Keeping files in a web-based platform will also free up storage on a local device, as most cloud file storage software programs have unlimited storage available. 

Transferring files to the cloud is simple. You will just need to follow these steps:

1. Make a copy of the desired files and folders.

2. Open the web-based file management platform of your choice in a small window.

3. Click and drag, or copy and paste desired files and folders into the cloud.

4. Transition to generating or downloading files to the cloud first, and then storing in a local device as a second choice if desired.

By uploading files to a web-based platform, you have more document control. You have access to your files and photos whenever you need. All you need is a device and an internet connection. ConstructionOnline is a web based construction management platform that allows all company team members to access project data in one place– including all files and photos, if desired. Start your free ConstructionOnline account here– no strings attached.

3. Consistent Naming and Structure

While a file will always exist on a computer or a web-based platform, it can still get lost in the hard drive if the name isn’t something recognizable. Properly naming all of your company's files and photos ensures that they will always be accessible through folders or through the search function in your file manager.

An easy consistent naming format to start utilizing is: 


Additionally, having these files located in designated folders makes them easier to locate every time. Setting up a folder structure with nested folder layers can make finding files and organizing them even easier.

An easy file structure format to start utilizing is something along these lines: 


You can organize projects even further by year, by active/inactive status, or anything else that makes sense for your company. Whatever naming/folder structure works for your company will work, as long as it remains consistent. Have a discussion with your team to ensure everyone is on the same page about how files are structured and named, so that no files get lost.

4. Get Started Today

The workday can be busy, so it’s common to download a file or photo and think “It’s fine, I’ll just come back and rename it later”. This small, seemingly inconsequential, action can lead to a lot of headache– several unnamed files that will build up over time.

To avoid this, don’t hesitate to properly name the file as soon as it is in your possession. Whether it’s a file that you’ve downloaded from a client email, or a contract you have written, ensure that it follows your naming structure as soon as possible.

Furthermore, do not wait to organize documents in the proper folder. It can be hard to locate files in a computer if they are floating around in the hard drive somewhere, especially if your company has a high volume of files. As soon as you download or save the file, ensure it is located in the right place for the next time someone needs to access it.

5. Archive and Reorganize Files Regularly

In the construction industry, it is important to have extensive documentation to set your company up for success. That being said, sometimes files and photos get duplicated, proposals need to be rewritten, certificates expire, and more. 

In order to quickly locate and manage files, it is a good practice to regularly reduce the number of files in your company's drive. Even after a project is completed, it is crucial to have all important documents pertaining to a project accessible from someplace. With unlimited storage in the cloud, keeping archived project information is a no-brainer.

Do not delete a file unless you are 100% sure that you will never need that file again. Usually, this would be something like a duplicated file, or an opportunity that was not won. For files and photos that you are unsure about, consider having an archive. This archive could simply be a folder titled “Archive”, where your company stores files that they will not need to access any time soon, but may need to refer back to in the future.

The frequency that your company goes through this clean-out process depends on your preferences. Some companies will clean out their files and photos daily, and some will clean them out yearly. Whatever your team chooses, remember that the longer your team waits in between clean-outs, the longer it will take to sort through the files.

Key Takeaways >

> Proper document control can make or break your success.

> Shift to a solely digital format.

> Make sure your company is storing files in the cloud.

> Decide on a consistent naming format and folder structure.

> Prioritize proper organization to reduce labor in the long run.

> Regularly reorganize files, and store unimportant files in an archive.

Topics: Best Practices Cloud File Management