When it comes to project documentation, you’ll hear the term “single source of truth” tossed around quite a bit. But, what does that really mean for your projects? Let me run through a handful of the tangible benefits to having a single source of truth for your project documentation.

One Searchable Repository

One of the most critical parts of having that single source of truth is making sure you have one place where you are distributing all your documentation from so that the entire project team is on the same page.

It is an incredibly expensive proposition when everyone on the project team is not using the latest version of the documentation.

Consider this. According to an FMI 2018 Industry Report, construction professionals lose almost four hours per week dealing with mistakes and rework. The same study shows that in 2018, more than $31 billion of rework in the U.S. will be caused by poor data and miscommunication.

One of the ways you can dramatically reduce the amount of rework on your project is making sure everyone is using the most current version of the documentation. Ensuring a single source of truth enables the easy distribution of information links to the entire project team.

The Flood of Information

There is more information, more documentation in our industry than ever before. Emails, documents, specs, and plans, the amount of this information is growing exponentially. Complex capital and maintenance projects can typically involve scores of team members and thousands of documents stored in different systems spread over multiple locations. This documentation is useless unless you can find it in a timely manner.

That same industry report mentioned above tells us construction professionals lose more than five hours per week looking for project data and/or information. A single source of truth implies a single source of searchable information resulting in faster and more complete searches.

Breaking down the Silos

Typically, most companies have different buckets or silos of information. You have a place to keep your emails, and maybe you have a file system where a lot of your core documentation lives. You may have it stored in Dropbox or SharePoint and yes, technically that’s a filing system, but it only contains part of that information.

The advantage of having a single source of truth is, and I put emphasis on the word “single,” you put all those buckets together, and you can establish the relationships between all those different items.

Take for example an RFI (request for information). Chances are the RFI started with an email from the subcontractor that contains some valuable information. I, as the project owner, am looking at that RFI, but I have no idea about that original email. It’s either gone or living in some other system I don’t know about or have access to.

But imagine if I can look at the RFI, and I can see linkages to other core items on the project, in this case the email. Now, I get more context of the entire project and more value to make sure I am doing things accurately and quickly.

Better communication, more project visibility, and less rework. They are all byproducts of a single source of truth in document management that can be the difference in your next capital or maintenance project.

David Wagner is a vice president with InEight.