(A guest post by document control manager Edward Surgeon, partly stimulated by my previous coverage of contract change management features on construction collaboration platforms.)
As a document control manager, a big part of my job is to maximise user adoption of our collaboration system across our projects.
This means that my radar is always scanning for anything that might cause people not to use the system. I recently discovered such an example during a FIDIC contract training course I attended.
Most course attendees were contracts people. However, I was more interested in analysing FIDIC from a document management point of view. I wanted to explore the question: how should I/we be tweaking our contracts, document management procedures and collaboration tool configuration to best align with the FIDIC environment?
My first observation was that none of the main FIDIC General Conditions of Contract books we use (Red and Yellow) have been updated since their first editions in 1999. Not surprisingly, the language used is still very much from the pre-internet paper-based world. One example of this comes from FIDIC Red Book Section 1.8 – Care and Supply of Documents:
…. Unless otherwise stated in the Contract, the Contractor shall supply to the Engineer six copies of each of the Contractor’s Documents.
It turns out that “six copies” is a legacy from the pre-plotter days where that was the maximum number of carbon copies that could be made! This makes sense if you’re living in 1960 when making copies was difficult. Today, however, insisting that the contractor provide six printed sets of all shop drawings is unnecessary. It means there is contractual focus on a redundant hard copy transaction when the focus ought to be on making sure the contractor issues the documents via the collaboration platform.
Then I asked the course facilitator (a FIDIC expert and construction industry veteran) how he expects the increasing use of collaboration tools to influence future editions of FIDIC. To my astonishment, he had not heard of the collaboration vendors I mentioned, and he was completely unfamiliar with the concept of a collaboration tool!
I hope the people at FIDIC are paying more attention to collaboration tools when they write the second editions (whenever that may be).
Meanwhile, am I being unfair to FIDIC? Perhaps FIDIC is being deployed in environments where use of a web-based collaboration technology is difficult? I would also be interested to hear from any vendors who have supported FIDIC processes.