In this two-part series, we’re speaking with customers about how technology has transformed the profession of document control.
In the previous post, “How technology is transforming E&C document management”, we spoke with Marizaane Loubser, document controller for Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, about how technology has elevated her role, as well as individuals’ roles across project stakeholders, including owners, contractors, and subcontractors.
In this post, Samantha Hacker, document control professional with Valley Metro, discusses how Oracle Aconex has helped streamline her work and improved her organization’s efficiency overall.
Document control professionals are some of the most detail-oriented, organized, and focused individuals I’ve ever worked with. Traditionally, document control has held the keys to critical information that can potentially sway billion-dollar decisions impacting quality, safety, and budget.
Despite that, such departments had been relegated to back rooms. Technology has changed all of that.
These professionals have expanded their roles with automation, improving job satisfaction and adding more value to projects and operations.
When she began her career, Hacker’s work required many manual processes. “Because of advances in technology, document control has been taken out of the basement,” she says.
She explains that in the past, document control was a function performed by a handful of people. Too few people understood the value of her work.
Technology has made document control front and center—viewed as an integral component to the exchange of information on a project. Hacker has experienced the digital transformation of the more mundane aspects of document control from 10 years ago.
Activities that previously relied on individuals are now automated. These include revising developing and assigning document numbering conventions and tracking versioning and documents that were sent and received.
Hacker’s job has evolved to a higher capacity. Today, she’s responsible for establishing the procedures and structure for documentation processing, supporting consistent project setup on the software platform, and auditing projects to ensure project teams are following organization-wide guidelines while meeting their specific project requirements.
In addition, Hacker is tasked with educating her organization’s project teams as well as the greater project ecosystem - designers, contractors, and member cities - on how the transportation agency is using the software and how the agency should engage with the platform.
Valley Metro’s document controller is also providing user support as needed. While there is a view that technology has transformed document control into information management, Hacker takes that concept a step further.
"People responsible for information management have become integral to knowledge management," says Hacker.
|Submittal processing||4,500-6,000 hours per project|
|Design reviews||4-5 days per review|
|RFI cycles||4-8 hours per cycle|
|Hard copy package distribution||$200,000 on a given project|
Hacker says that she needed a good understanding of the information that must be captured—as well as how people interact and contribute to that information—to be successful in her role.
“The people aspect of my responsibilities includes creating a culture that supports the whole team across organizations and disciplines - so we are working off the same system in the same fashion,” she says. Understanding the bigger picture helps highlight the technological evolution for Hacker and others in her profession.
Teams collaborate throughout the entire lifecycle of documents, drawings, and communication —from inception through reviews, revisions and approvals— as software solutions have moved from point solutions to multi-functional platforms. The same platform can also act as a repository of final records.
Platforms like Oracle Aconex offer a central hub. This virtual workspace is not only for collaboration throughout a project and a warehouse for final documents, but also for project controls and building model functionality.
Technology solutions are integrating more efficiently with other solutions, such as finance and scheduling, as cloud-based systems with open architecture become the norm.
Understanding the interconnectedness of project data, cost and, schedule helps Hacker define processes and procedures that offer the best outcome for Phoenix-based Valley Metro and the public they serve.
“My favorite saying when I first started out in document control more than 10 years ago used to be, ‘If it didn’t go through document control, it didn’t happen,’” says Hacker.
Today, multiple people are empowered to contribute to documentation on a project, and many are expected to understand the document management system.
“My current favorite saying is, ‘everyone document-controls.’ Anyone who contributes to documentation on our projects in Oracle Aconex is responsible for understanding how the system works, how to search, and how to follow best practices for titling and defining metadata,” Hacker says.
“In addition to my other roles of information architect and integration specialist, I am also a trainer,” says Hacker. She is responsible for familiarizing individuals new to Valley Metro with Oracle Aconex as a system and tool specifically configured to meet the needs of the transportation agency.
Hacker wears many hats - from the friendly information desk to answer questions, to the custodian of Valley Metro’s procedures for processing documentation, and in some cases, a (mostly friendly) project police officer ensuring rules are followed.
These roles help ensure Valley Metro gets the most from their system implementation as they deliver key projects to the communities they serve, she notes.
The results: the transportation agency has saved 4,500-6,000 hours per project on submittal processing and four to five days per design review.
The agency has sped RFI cycles by four to eight hours and saved $200,000 by virtually eliminating hard copy package distribution in alignment with the organization’s sustainability goals.
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