Managing knowledge. Document management. Intellectual property management. All of these phrases are “buzz” words in the AE industry. It is a hot topic right now because being able to use your project documentation and historical data is critical. No matter what you refer to it as…being able to collect and store information about your firm, your clients and your projects is crucial to your business operations.
Capturing your institutional memory can mean different things to different firms but being able to easily search on and retrieve this information becomes invaluable as time goes by and personnel changes occur. At a simple level, a small firm should at the least consider storing:
1. Correspondence Documents – transmittals, letters, emails
2. Notes regarding client contact – when you are chasing work or for follow-up tasks
3. RFIs, Sumbittals and Supplemental Instructions
You cannot afford to be without a system where you can track this information, link it to a client and/or project and fully search on it. And, it would be even better if this same information was integrated into your complete project database where you are tracking all other details about your projects such as time slips, tasks, milestones, resource management and invoicing.
Even if you have a very small firm it will better enable you to compete with the larger ones when you have access to client and project data at your fingertips. Why is it important to track your “knowledge”:
If a project manager leaves your firm (for whatever reason), do you have full access to all of the information that otherwise might be in their head?
It isn’t just your own turnover that you need to concerned with – think about your relationship with your clients. If your client puts a new contact in front of you – how quickly can you bring them up to speed?
One of the top warning signs of scope creep is a client that provides late or incomplete information. Do you have easy access to the records that you need to give to your clients to document a situation such as this?