Avoid costly claims and disputes with proper documentation practices

Miree Le Roy - Thursday, December 02, 2010

Have you ever found yourself in a dispute with a client or subcontractor on a project and unable to produce documents to support your claims, simply because they were never properly completed or filed? Being in this position can cost contractors thousands of dollars and time lost to complete extra work, all because they didn’t document their position clearly.  

I recently discovered another good read from CFMA’s Building Profits magazine which will no doubt be useful for any organisation in the AEC industries. Written by Jeffrey Firestone, Director of Litigation Services and Auditing & Accounting Services at McManamon & Co LLC, and Andrew Natale, Chair of the Construction Law Group at Frantz Ward LLP, the article outlines ways to protect your construction claims with proper documentation.

One of the best ways to cover yourself and avoid costly disputes with customers, contractors and subcontracts on a project is to ensure that all correspondence is well documented and stored in writing. Verbal communication is often not conclusive enough to prove or disprove a claim and in today’s litigious society, it is imperative to record documents such as transmittals, change orders, RFIs, site diaries and meeting minutes. But, why are organisations still being caught out? Is it that the process of documenting and filing is just too time consuming and difficult?

This is why an investment in project management software with good document control facilities can save you time and money in the long run. Unlike traditional practices where project managers maintain all of their own estimates and documents in spreadsheets only accessible to a handful of others in the organisation, well developed software products such as IPM enable automatic filing of all documents related to a project in the one place. This means that in the unfortunate event of a dispute, document retrieval is efficient and all encompassing.

Records of email correspondence are also gold when it comes to dispute resolution. We know the manual filing and organising of emails is a time consuming and monotonous task, but did you know that IPM can automatically track and file email communication for a certain job with an automatically generated tracking code in the subject line?

With documentation features like this, there is now no reason why disputes should cost your organisation more than they have to.


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