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Relational Document Control

The type of Document Control I am a specialist in providing is what would be termed "Relational". This means that it is geared up to exactly the type of reporting that matters most to project managers, such as contractor's communications, submissions and approvals applications, design changes and most importantly, how they relate to each other.

For instance, answering questions such as:

"Which drawings were changed as a result of the last Project Manager's Instruction? Were we issued with all of them? Were they the correct revisions?"

"Give me a schedule of specifications that are referred to in this batch of drawings. Also - when were those specifications last revised?"

"What Early Warnings did we issue in respect of Method Statements still unapproved shortly before being due on site? Which EW for the Frustrated Access on 10/7/06?"

"Please list the sources of the COSHH Assessments we pulled in to this Method Statement, so I can select some of them to put into a new one."

"How many Compensation Event claims have been answered? How many Early Warnings have escalated into Compensation Events?"

To me, what is important is not simply adding to schedules of particular types of document - i.e. maintain a schedule of drawings, maintain a schedule of COSHH Assessments, maintain a schedule of Method Statements. And a list of Compensation Event claims by date is no use at all.

What is important is noting which of these things refer to which other things. This is most important for ensuring that all design changes, approval delays and frustrated access can be presented when preparing a defence for delays to programme, which are outside of the contractor's control. Only when armed with this information, and a Document Controller who can filter and report the relevant information at any particular time, can a Project Manager or Contract Manager feel confident that he can walk into a progress meeting and justify his position in a way that cannot be challenged. This can be a real benefit when dealing with difficult clients who will often not have such sophisticated information reporting abilities at their disposal, and will be shocked to find they meet their match - and the contractor can then be left to concentrate on the job in hand.

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