ERP

How to manage your project documents intuitively

Alexander Lang10/01/2021

The right document – always available.  

When searching for the term “project documents” on the Internet, you either find the supposedly most important documents for a project or a definition of the term “project documents”. An accurate definition is very helpful in order to understand which types of documents might come up in a project in the first place.  

In this blog post, we’ll be covering the management of operative and supporting documents which are specifically created for a project or result from project communication. What’s more, we’ll be addressing the question of how these documents can be stored in an integrated document management system (DMS) in a context-sensitive manner.  

What kinds of project documents are there actually? 

The obvious point of departure is the project plan as such, which contains information regarding the project workflow and the project schedule. The project plan is part of the project management documents. These also typically include project status reports, project records, etc. These documents are introduced and managed by the Project Management Office (PMO). 

In addition, there’s also a range of operative documents. They comprise commercial documents for the preparation of quotes, which, apart from detailed cost calculation, can also include descriptions of services as well as sketches. Further documents can include receipts from material ordering or external services required for the project. Besides commercial documents, there’s often a range of other documents that are managed in the project file, such as written communication, certificates for purchased goods, authorizations, CAD drawings and production plans. 

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The challenge in relation to the central project file 

Oftentimes, these project documents are stored unsystematically using several software solutions. Written communication is often stored using the e-mail client software or is put into project folders. Orders for materials and external services are generated by the ERP system, and invoices are equally collected there. Contracts, quotes, and authorizations are stored on file servers in the network. In the worst case, the CAD drawing is stored on the engineer’s computer, while a PDF file containing the CAD drawing is also stored on the file server for the project team.  

The file server is often not accessible from outside the corporate network, since this would entail an increased security risk. During the Covid-19 pandemic, it became apparent that many companies were not prepared for the new normal with employees increasingly working from home. Employees could not access all documents, as they were not available independent of time or location. 

Availability everywhere – What does an integrative solution look like? 

Here again, a distinction must first be made as to which documents are involved. Commercial documents always belong directly in the ERP system and should be linked to the processes in the ERP system using an integrated document management system (DMS). Using automated processing of incoming invoices, receipts are not only automatically assigned to the relevant process in the ERP system but also to the right project. They can then be retrieved centrally using the job card. Outbound documents are also automatically linked to the project and are shown in a document box in the job card together with the inbound documents. 

Other documents can then optionally be stored in the DMS using the document box and can be tagged using keywords or can be managed with Microsoft Teams. The integration of Microsoft Teams into our industry solution for project manufacturers provides central access to the documents from the DMS as well as to the documents in Microsoft Teams. Particularly for documents that the members of a project team have to work on together, Microsoft Teams is the right place. Even large amounts of data and photos should better be stored in a Microsoft Teams environment than in an audit-compliant DMS. 

Summary 

The combination of several software solutions that interact with each other and map processes on an integrated basis comes with the most significant advantage. This way, project documents from the ERP industry solution, combined with a DMS and Microsoft Teams, can be managed easily and intuitively. With the necessary security concept, the documents can be made available at any time and anywhere in the cloud. 

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Author:
Alexander Lang
Industry Manager Project | COSMO CONSULT