The use of digital plan rooms is increasing as more contractors embrace the advantages of utilizing some of the latest technology. Having access to plans in any location is becoming more important, and contractors are using digital plan rooms to view and share the latest versions of construction documents with project team members.
Digital plan rooms allow owners, architects, and general contractors to distribute and share information with subcontractors, suppliers, and other project team members. They allow users to view, download, print, and perform takeoffs of plans stored online.
Plan rooms can be hosted by bid exchanges, software companies, or other hosts. They provide the space for contractors to upload plans and store them in the cloud. Drawings can then be easily shared with other contacts.
Plan rooms provide more than just file sharing ability. They can save contractors time and money and increase the number of leads coming in. Here are six advantages of using a digital plan room to store and send your plans.
Collaboration has become the new buzzword for construction project teams. Working together is smarter and more economical, saving everyone time and money. When project teams have access to the latest versions of plans, they can quickly provide feedback or make changes as needed. This ability to share information almost instantly helps ensure that the project stays on schedule.
Online digital plan rooms are accessible from anywhere with an internet connection. Contractors don’t have to invest in special software or hardware in order to access and view documents. Communication with the field is often difficult, but these days everyone has an internet connection in their pocket, as plans can be accessed from a phone or tablet. The 2020 Construction Technology Report reported that 92% of respondents use a smartphone for work, and 78% use a mobile device for viewing project documents. Digital plan rooms make sharing project documents quick and easy.
3. Save time
Accessing plans and doing material takeoffs online saves estimators time putting together bids. The ability to quickly assess the amount of work in the project and do a material takeoff improves bidding efficiency so contractors can bid more work. Adam Dada, a Chicago-based IT specialist says, “With all the pressure to reduce costs and make things more efficient, the use of [online] plan rooms are becoming more prevalent.” And Shane Bleddsoe, project manager for Candor Electric in Chicago, states, “If we can obtain digital drawings that allow us to estimate faster, we will favor those that give us the information we need when times are busy. If we can easily download drawings and print them locally, this is a great time saver for both us and our customers.”
4. Save money
Printing isn’t the only cost associated with using printed plans. Plans require collating and binding, and they have to be delivered to the person who needs them, so there are delivery charges as well. Not only do digital plan rooms save the cost of printing plans, but they also save money by reducing the amount of time spent handling plans, doing takeoffs, and estimating work. The saved labor can be reallocated to other more productive tasks, reducing project costs and increasing profits.
5. Easy distribution
Plans stored in a digital plan room can be easily shared with team members or potential bidders. Project members can be invited to a collective plan room for a project, or the plans can be shared by sending a link. This cuts down on the time and costs of delivering plans to ensure that everyone has the same version. Teams can instantly access revised plans as soon as they are posted.
6. Lead generation
Plan room sites, like PlanHub, allow GCs to invite subs to view and bid on projects. General contractors can post projects for free and invite subs in the area to provide a bid. Subcontractors and suppliers can then review their invitations and decide which projects to go after.
Subs can also proactively search for potential projects that they can bid on. PlanHub has a unique search feature that let’s subs search by keywords, not just division scopes, to get more detailed results. For example, a freezer supplier could search projects where “freezer” is included in the plans or specifications and within a certain distance from their location. The site will return a list of projects that meet those parameters for the supplier to look at.
No one likes to bid a project when there is a lot of competition for the work. Our Competitive Advantage tool allows subs to see exactly how much competition there is for a project before you bid. You simply select the trade(s), choose the type of activity you’re interested in, and the tool will show you how many companies have been invited to bid on the project, viewed the project, downloaded the files, and submitted bids. Subs no longer have to waste time bidding projects with a lot of competition!
If you aren’t using a digital plan room to manage your plans and projects, you’re losing time and money. Plan rooms are easy to set up and are intuitive to use, so you won’t have to spend a lot of time before you’re up and running.
Those using plan rooms should continue to leverage the benefits and take advantage of new technology as it comes out. Communication is a major priority on the jobsite, and with plans viewable from any mobile device, digital plan rooms make sharing information quick and easy.