I attended a seminar once put on by a leading construction litigation attorney. His main point was this: whatever system you use, keep all of the communications from pre-contract to the present in one file in chronological order. I don’t need to tell you how much money this will save you when you need an attorney and have this.
Your system needs to follow the progression of the project from start to finish.
Your filing system should keep track of consultant, contractor, and vendor responsibilities; deliverables and deadlines, but it also must make document retrieval simple from a variety of locations. A coded system makes file management significantly easier and facilitates communication between interested parties.
Whatever you do, keep everything organized exactly the same way so that you can find the information. Additionally, make a file on every project, no matter how small. Many times, the smallest jobs cause the biggest headaches.
Scanned documents that can be accessed by you and your employees need date stamps that show when the documents were signed and then scanned. Make sure you have a copy of all signed documents.
First Things First: Set up a scope of what you want filed.
These days, besides contracts and correspondence, you need a lot of photos (videos, drone footage, etc.) documenting each stage of work completion. This is part of the information you also use to document pay requests.
Next: Make sure your information is secure.
Here is a simple scenario of a happy ending to good file management:
GC: “The architect says you used the wrong water boiler.”
HVAC Contractor: “That’s the one we submitted on.”
GC: “He says he never approved that submittal and it’s the wrong boiler.”
HVAC Contractor: “I have the signed, approved submittals right here, dated June 1, 2021, and that’s the boiler we put in. If he wants a different one,
I’ll put together a change order and if he approves it, we’ll change it.”
Contributed by Stephen Brown of McDaniel Whitley Inc.
Stephen is a 35-year Construction Surety Bonding and Insurance Specialist who started his career as a surety bonding underwriter. With their main office located in Memphis, TN, McDaniel Whitley Inc represents multiple surety markets and services clients throughout the country.