Making Paper Process Electronic

It can be said that so much of what we do in Technology is replacing antiquated ways of functioning. One hopes that the drive for doing this is at least loosely rooted in improving a process or outcome that justifies the investment.

Making Paper Process Electronic
There has been considerable drive to turn our old, supposedly antequated ways of shuffling paper RFI’s and Submittals around into a streamlined, electronic system. There are many potential motivated parties, including:

  1. The Young Ones – Many younger Architects are seeing electronic, snazy project management techniques (like Buzzsaw and Newforma). They have always grown up with technology in their hands. Some make the assumption that going electronic is always the correct answer.
  2. Owners – It’s easier to look into a project’s progress if you can do it without having to ask someone for information. It won’t raise suspicion if an owner looks around online to the easily accessible submittals and responses.
  3. Contractors – The more that’s electronic, the less the tech-savvy GC has to shuffle physically at his desk. The more RFI’s a project is anticipated to have, the more likely the GC is going to demand it.
  4. Principals – Your own principals may be pushing so they can state in marketing materials that your firm has the experience with it. Being with the times wins jobs, after all.
  5. Technology Department – Your own people may be pushing, too. Though, it’s likely that they’re pushing on the behalf of someone else. If you have individuals just dying to manage another system that gets them noticed, this would be a obvious opportunity for them.

The problem with that is that too often, given many other factors, those paper methods work just fine. The investment in time, troubleshooting and support infrastructure to make these conversions happen simply doesn’t justify itself all the time. A few questions to ask yourself before investing much time:

  1. Who benefits? Will the team be more productive or just one or two individuals.
  2. Are your projects large enough in scale to benefit? It doesn’t make sense to automate submittals on a project with less than 50 RFI’s.
  3. Will the next project use it? If that system is a one trick pony, it’s money wasted.

I’ll dive more into this and other topics soon here on Architecture Technology. My goal is to make this an informal and supporting blog in an Internet world that seems to have left the Architectural technologist in the dust.







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