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Keeping Electronic Records Can Save you Much More than Just Paper


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An apartment building still under construction is experiencing serious water leaks. The cause was faulty plumbing fittings. But, the plumbing company’s owner claims an overnight freeze caused the leaks. A review of weather data from that period and an email from one of the plumbers admitting fault proved otherwise. The plumbing company and its insurance carrier conceded liability and paid for the damages.

“If you’re not diligent about your record keeping it is almost guaranteed that the party or parties you’ve contracted with will be,” says Jason Spencer, executive vice president of Journeyman Construction and a construction lawyer for more than two decades. “Electronic record keeping is very important.”

“If you’re not diligent about your record keeping it is almost guaranteed that the party you’ve contracted with will be.” 

Disputes, claims and lawsuits are, unfortunately, a large part of doing business in the construction industry. The greater the job’s complexity, the greater the chances that a general contractor’s work will be brought into question.

Such as when a GC received a call from an irate owner of an industrial project one year after the job’s completion. The owner asserted that a section of the building wasn’t installed properly and the general contractor should be responsible for redoing it. During the conversation, the project manager pulls up the job folder on his laptop and locates an RFI from the owner requesting the installation in question be changed. Within minutes, the conversation turned from a potentially costly dispute to an opportunity for a new project.

Paper Piles 

Even the most organized and diligent record keepers relying on paper-based documentation face an enormously daunting task of preserving all the documents a construction job demands.

A $10 million project is estimated to generate some 56,000 pages of data. It’s not difficult to understand how the paper can stack up. Consider the hundreds of emails, change orders, RFIs, drawings, submittals, site inspections, meeting minutes, photos, and the list goes on. Managing paperwork is a 24/7 operation.

Path to Accountability 

The benefits of keeping electronic records are not limited to avoiding costly litigation or backing up legitimate claims, they can save you money and foster accountability.  

The benefits of keeping electronic records can also save you money and foster accountability.   

For one demolition contractor, having electronic records immediately available allowed them to save thousands of dollars on their biggest expense - repairing their fleet of equipment and vehicles. Due to the nature of the business, many different people operated a variety of very expensive excavators, dozers and crushers. The damage to the fleet was increasing as was the cost to fix it. Yet, there was little to no accountability and no way to track it.   

By using electronic data to trace the work history of each individual, and identify the machinery or vehicle they were using, the company was able to get an accurate picture of the damage problem. The company was also able to outline responsibilities and clarify the role of each employee as well as provide constructive feedback. This led to a more accountable culture and thousands of dollars in savings for the company. 

Moving toward a paperless future, not only frees you of those dusty banker boxes, it can save you time and money and give you peace of mind so you can focus on what really needs to get done.

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