The Importance of Construction Document Management in Claims Resolution
Construction projects typically involve many, many documents. They can include volumes of specifications, supplemental specifications, and standards. Even the contracts themselves can fill an oversized binder. Outside of contract documents, the project participants will generally create daily reports, logs, and diaries. They will usually correspond by email on a daily basis.
When problems arise, the documents of a project will usually affect the outcome of any dispute. So it should be no surprise that a party who effectively manages its documents will be better suited to pursue or defend a claim. Those who do not effectively manage their documents usually pay attorneys and consultants large fees to wade through the documents and put them in some organized fashion.
But managing documents in the midst of a busy and complex project is not always possible. For these projects, it is critical for the parties to find cost-effective means of organizing their documents without draining cash resources. This is where attorneys and consultants who have a solid understanding of construction document management can provide great value.
In the construction law practice, an attorney or consultant must have a working knowledge of document-management software and litigation databases. For example, we try to use only electronic documents by scanning hardcopies into a digital format. In addition, we have used multiple types of database programs. AHC attorney David Cook has even created a litigation document management database from scratch.
Each client and each dispute has different needs. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to construction document management, especially in the litigation context. So experienced construction attorneys and consultants must tailor their document management programs to the specific needs of a client.
Not enough can be said of cost control over document management. Certain small claims simply do not justify the cost of the most powerful document management programs. For these disputes, we recommend the use of basic programs and even automated processes. By implementing a cost-conscious approach to litigation document management, attorneys and consultants can significantly increase the probability of a higher net recovery.
Finally, the most efficient method of reducing litigation costs in construction disputes is employed by clients. By keeping documents organized and reducing duplicates, clients can significantly reduce their costs of dispute resolution. Clients know much more about the inter-workings of a project and a dispute, and they should therefore be at the forefront of document management.