Written by Chelsea Johnston

Businesses use paper for many reasons, and that is no different in construction projects. There is a new way to do business that eliminates the demand for paper. This new method is called electronic data interchange, or EDI. EDI allows businesses to communicate with each other electronically, without the use of paper. EDI reduces costs by eliminating the need for paper, improves efficiency by reducing time to exchange information by paper, and increases accuracy by eliminating errors in communication.

A cost that can be easily reduced or eliminated is paper and printing expenses. We know this because we built our company PrintingKC on reprographics! We have a thriving printing company that has been in business for over 15 years. We have perfected paper processes, the paper industry, and supply for construction projects.

Paper Prices

There is a price associated with paper, printing, filing, organization space, printers, workers, recycling paper, and backup papers all add up to a sizable additional cost

Consider the following statistics: (Source: Paperless Project)

  • On average a document is copied 9 to 11 times – if you multiply 11 copies times millions of pages generated daily, the paper piles really stack up.
  • Paper document filing costs average $20 per copy –filing costs increase in tandem with growing piles of paper – that adds up to major costs very quickly
  • Large organizations lose a document every twelve seconds, costing companies between $350 to $700 a piece to recover.

Once the papers are collected, organized, and stored; who is managing those documents, and how often are they accessed? The majority of documents sit in filing cabinets collecting dust until they are eventually shredded or pulped – at which time, another tree becomes a casualty in a paper-driven office.

Lost Documentation

How many times have you lost your cell phone in your house? That is one simple item that we use every day but we often misplace it. Imagine millions of documents, managed by numerous employees: the amount of misplaced misfiled, and incorrectly copied documents is outlandish. Every document that is lost puts you at risk for litigation, extra costs to retrieve that document, and a loss of customers.

It is important to keep track of documents for safety and compliance reasons, but there is a better way. You can have instant access to any project document from anywhere in the world at any time!

Redundancy

Documents are copied and stored in numerous locations or lost and re-copied. So there is a large amount of redundancy in paper trails. There is no reason to have one paper document copied 9-11 times, yet that is the average. This level of repetition and redundancy eventually creates more work to sift through documents, when looking for something important. Paper documents often get put in the wrong place and are difficult to find. This increases retrieval time and can often lead to frustration.

Time Spent Searching for Documents

How much time is wasted looking for a paper document? It is difficult to estimate the number of billable hours wasted annually searching for documents. It is easy to understand how this can become a huge time-consuming operational expense, as you can see from these labor statistics below.

Consider the following: (Source: Price Waterhouse Coopers Study)

  • The average office worker spends 8 hours a week managing paper documents.
  • The cost of finding a single document is $122
  • The number of lost paper documents per year for a mid-sized business is 750
  • 7.5% of all printed documents are lost. (Source: National Association of Office and Industrial Property Management)

The biggest operational expense is people searching for documents and lost documentation. If a company can’t find its documents, it can’t do business. Time and money are wasted and it could have been prevented. These combined factors prove that the cost of paper far outweighs the benefits you would expect.

PrintingKC scan paper processes project photo

Eliminating Paper

Technology is the solution to eliminating paper. Technology stores all complete information in an organized manner, that is easily searchable; no matter what employee is needing access to it. Different departments are allowed to access the same documentation from any device. Technology includes more space for storage, an organization that is easy for anyone to understand, linking of documents that are connected, simple updates of information, and finding documentation in minutes, as opposed to hours!

Technology as a Replacement

Technology can eliminate paper while increasing project communication. A construction management software that houses all project documentation in one easy-to-use software as a service. Subcontractors, general contractors, and owners have access to the latest drawings and data, ensuring a complete digital twin during the build and 50-plus years into the project’s future.

We saw a print problem in the construction industry and created our construction management software-as-a-service MySmartPlans.

MySmartPlans creates project communication, transparency, complete data, auditing, and a customized construction solution. We strive to eliminate paper costs completely! We have proven we can increase productivity for tens of thousands of projects with our software, and this is just one example of a customer benefit to using MySmartPlans. The irony is not lost on us that we started out, and still run, a successful reprographics printing company. But we have evolved to reduce paper, as it is not the most effective, real-time way to communicate.

Recommendation

We will continue to offer our reprographics printing services, but we recommend that you begin slowly implementing paperless projects with MySmartPlans. There are no hidden costs associated with construction document management because construction projects already need a construction management system in place to track RFIs, submittals, meeting minutes, addenda, etc. Therefore, using MySmartPlans as the construction management technology creates your paperless documentation included in the price!

The most significant benefits of going paperless are:

  • Reduced search time for paper documents
  • Elimination of lost documents
  • Reduce copying and scanning costs
  • Encourage employees as opposed to hindering their work
  • Improved project coordination
  • Eliminating construction litigation with full searchable data!

Additional Benefits of Using MySmartPlans

MySmartPlans includes a team of Digital Librarian/ Project Information Managers that organize and audit every document for you. Ensuring that the data we put into your project information system is correct, updated, linked, organized, centrally located, complete, and available in real-time. Not only do we create a transparent construction project with communication, but we reduce time, cost, and waste by eliminating the need for paper.

Learn More

Learn more about how you can begin slowly implementing a paperless office with MySmartPlans. We would be happy to discuss the benefits of paperless construction document management with you in greater detail.

Contact us!

Shelley Armato, CEO shelley@mysmartplans.com 816-479-0261

Dominick Armato, President dominick.armato@mysmartplans.com 816-479-0259                    

Mike Beyer, Printing mike.beyer@mysmartplans.com 816-221-7881

Works cited:

Price Waterhouse Coopers Study

National Association of Office and Industrial Property Management

The Paperless Office – Its Time has Come. The Paperless Project.

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