Drawing Management on Construction Projects (Part 7)

This is part 7 of a 7-part series of articles on Drawing Management on Construction Projects. (Back to Part 6 – Drawing Scheduling, to the Table of Contents)

Implications for Document Management Systems

It should be clear by now that drawing management is focused on managing the drawing list. Therefore any document management system that you seriously consider using on a construction project must include features that allow you to efficiently manage the drawing list.

There two groups of requirements:

Drawing Management

  • Managing multiple revisions of the same drawing
  • Defining classification fields applied to drawings, including lists of allowed values
  • Managing workflow fields, including list of revision status choices
  • Distributing drawings (transmittals)
  • Recording and linking discussion notes, emails, etc. to revisions
  • Producing lists of revisions with upcoming deadlines

Change Management

  • Managing change orders and queries, including their workflow information
  • Linking change orders to affected revisions
  • Recording and linking discussion notes, emails, etc. to revisions
  • Accurately recording all incoming and outgoing communication
  • Producing lists of change orders with upcoming deadlines

See [3] for a comprehensive list of requirements for document management for construction projects.

A problem with many commercial commercial DMS (document management systems) is that they do not enforce the rigor (e.g. strict procedures) required for effectively managing a drawing list. Specifically, they often lack the support required for filing using engineering classification systems, managing revision workflows and sending transmittals. The problem is caused by DMS vendors that have adapted systems intended for other industries, without having a complete understanding how construction projects actually work.

It should also be clear, given the number and variety of lists you need for drawing management, that spreadsheets aren’t nearly good enough for this task either. The main disadvantages of spreadsheets are:

  • All changes to the lists must be made in a single, central location
  • There is no practical way to connect/coordinate the revision list and revision files
  • Validation of the data in the spreadsheets is difficult and error prone
  • There is no audit trail of changes made to the lists
  • Difficult to ensure that all team members have up-to-date spreadsheets
  • Difficult to coordinate data in different lists to ensure consistency
  • Difficult to assign multiple values to a single drawing/revision classification field
  • Difficult to connect/coordinate discussion notes markup files

We recommend that you only consider a DMS designed specifically for the construction industry.


  1. Engineering Classification: The Key to Filing and Finding Construction Project Information (PDF)
  2. Managing Documents on EPC Projects (Blog article)
  3. DMS Specification (PDF. You’ll need to supply your email address to get a copy)
  4. Project Management: Why have computers made things harder? And what to do about it. (PDF)
  5. Works Organiser (Web Site for a construction DMS that we recommend)