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How to Better Use Technology for Collaboration on Construction Contracts

Posted: January 8, 2018 | Project Management

By Amy Hager

Yes, it’s that easy

Technology. It means something different to everyone. It is a tool for the tech savvy, a burden to some, and a crutch for others. The expectation that everyone use technology for everything and all the time has increased, along with the expectation that it serves many purposes and is easy to use. Regardless of where you fall on the technology knowledge spectrum, the one common thread that connects most of us is the need to use technology and the experiencing of some level of frustration at one point or another while using (or attempting) to use it. You can't do business without technology anymore, and the pros outweigh the cons. Therefore, having the right support in your corner is key to using technology as a tool to better position your business for success.

User Experience (UX) is the industry term being used to describe the significance of a positive experience and ease of technology usage. Working off a system that everyone has access to and is comfortable using is important for creating a positive UX experience, yet it sometimes seems impossible to do. Because ConsensusDocs is a Microsoft Word cloud-based system, a system well known to most, users can work with the documents in different ways based off their comfort level.

The ConsensusDocs technology platform and contract templates are accessible from our website, www.consensusdocs.org. It is unnecessary to purchase or download extra software and, therefore, the only software program that needs to be updated is Microsoft Word. So how exactly does it work? You access the online portal from any computer with an internet connection, making the technology available anytime, anywhere. Complete the project details and make any necessary changes using Microsoft Word, then simply upload the documents back into the ConsensusDocs online platform for comment and collaboration, or share the documents with others via email. It is that easy.

Technology has helped connect us in ways we probably never would have imagined. It makes our jobs easier by allowing us to work with others on projects across cubicles, offices, or even different time zones. Since our founding in 2007, ConsensusDocs has continuously worked to leverage technology as a means for project players to openly communicate with one another.

An integral element of ConsensusDocs is to have open communication during a project. That principle of open communication should start with the negotiation of the contract process, and technology should never stand in the way of collaboration. ConsensusDocs has an online collaboration tool that is easy for anyone to use, and has been integrated in our online platform system since our major technology update in 2012. According to ConsensusDocs user, Matthew J. DeVries, this is an essential component of his client interactions that he often utilizes and enjoys. “The portal offered around-the-clock access; easy editing; easy collaboration among multiple users; and ability to convert, compare and track changes.” DeVries continues to explain, “Neither my client nor I had to be in the office to access the working documents. I controlled the editing rights and could invite anyone with an email address and internet access to the party. With document control tools, I could easily track versions and edits before making a final draft.”

The basic advantage to using a template or form agreement is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. The use of technology can help the wheel run smoothly when used properly and with thoughtful intent and collaboration. The right amount of support to help you understand technology, combined with smart business practices, will keep you ahead of the curve. But what is the future technology of the construction contract industry? Many are still at a desktop PC when working on construction contracts. But what does the future hold? Maybe the future involves working on contracts using a tablet, mobile device, or even smart watches and glasses. Wherever the future takes us, I am excited to see the next technology tools that will build better business processes and procedures. I welcome any thoughts on how the construction contract business will continue to thrive as new technology tools are developed.

When using technology to collaborate on a contract, here are a few tips to help the process:

  • Keep track of versions and changes for reference, you might need to go back to the original text.
  • Compare changes in different document versions to develop the best language for a project.
  • Stay organized by having one area that keeps all comments and versions.
  • Keep all changes online to make it easy for everyone. If you must, write your changes on paper and then type them into an online document that can easily be shared.
  • When getting down to the final details, try doing a screen share (like using GoToMeeting or SharePoint) where changes can be made and agreed upon to avoid delaying the final contract.

About the author: Amy Hager is the Director at ConsensusDocs, and has a strong understanding of technology, marketing and operations, specifically in the “not-for-profit” marketplace. As a former radio DJ, Hager joined AGC of America in the marketing department in 2008. She has been an association and executive director for a variety of state and regional associations, such as the Bed and Breakfast Association of Virginia, the Landscape Contractors Associations of DC/MD/VA, and the Southern Association of College and University Business Officers, as well as a consultant for various associations, business, and technology companies. As the director at ConsensusDocs, she is able to bring her skill sets under one organization to help the construction contract industry grow.

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