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Filing systems

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  • Filing systems

    This is a long post.

    Ok, to many of you this is going to seem very basic, but I wanted to explore different ways of "storing" our paper data. As Joe always points out on his forum, if your physical system doesn't work, a computer won't fix it.

    So, I am reviewing my filing system for projects, and wanted some feedback, or alternate ideas of what the rest of the construction world does.

    If I have a project, I currently have a hanging 3-ring binder that I store all project info in. I like the 3-ring binder idea, because if I have to, I can take it with me, and it hangs in a regular file cabinet out of view, or can be stored in plastic crates for long term storage. However, most hanging 3-ring binders are only 1", so they get full quite quickly.

    I am thinking of having 2 binders per job, or maybe 3. One for Design, one for construction phase, one for closeout to include items like estimate vs actual and warrantee info/follow up.

    Also, how organized do you keep your files? Do you have a file folder for each "phase" of construction:

    site prep


    Do you separate files for bids and final contracts, or do you all just lump it into one file, and are those by phase/trade? The reason I am asking, is I am hoping to bring someone in this year, at least a part timer (I had one earlier that didn't work out, so we are trying again). As most contractors, giving anything up is difficult. BUT one thing I find is that if things aren't organized, I go a bit nuts, especially if I'm not the last person to have it and I can't find it.

    I'm wondering how detailed to make the filing system so that someone else can, with relative ease, know where to put things, and where not to put things. But, I have a tendancy to overkill, and don't want to do that either, unless it's useful.

    I will then mimic my filing system on my computer for docs there. If there is a possible way to become paperless in the next 2 years, I'd like to, but I think we need to perfect our paper system first.

    Obviously, I think our current system has shortcomings, or I wouldn't be posting.

  • #2
    Re: Filing systems

    Our filing systems is as follows:
    When a job hits production, we create an office folder for all the mundane, and endless invoices for the job[that's field genrated material purchases, and subcontractors' invoices]. Our bookkeeper / office manager files these there as she posts them weekly. The production manager keeps a copy of the plans, project notes, weekly production notes, quote/contract, and company invoices to customers for the job in his job folder [2or3 gem clips keep the docs. in common groups]. The leadman carries his copy of the plans, poject notes,and quote with him as well. All paper work prior to final production documents are kept in the office folder. If the project is long or paper fills up the file, a temporary file holds what's not current in a file cabinet folder. When production closes, and final job cost reports are reviewed, all folders are consolidated to a single job folder. Any duplicate doc. is dumped. Jobs are filed by customer alphabetically by year of production. It's a personally gratifing challenge to make one manila folder go from 1st job review to final job filing for the project. Sometimes packaging tape is necessary for the year long jobs though.Hope some of this process makes sense to you. My office manager, and I have been together for 8+ years. We work well together, and probably do so because we leave each other alone to do our duties. One of us can always find information on our jobs.


    • #3
      Re: Filing systems

      We have one file until right before the project begins. Then we have a job site binder including the drawings. That file stays on site in a visible place so that all employees can find it including the owner. Any changes to drawings or specs can be changed at the job site easily then. At the end of the project the binder is supposed to come back to the office. In a perfect world. I also have on the computer a copy of the job site file in case it's lost. My job files can also get huge. I save every peice of paper related to the job (except for invoices). So any contracts with subs or estimates from vendors go in that file. I even include a copy of all submittals for commercial projects so I know what I've sent.
      I file all my invoices from vendors and subs in my payable files with the check stub stapled to them.
      Payroll check stubs get stapled to the time sheet.
      How do you match up check stubs with invoices if the invoices are filed with the job? I'm a little confused especially if you have an audit.


      • #4
        Re: Filing systems

        I too am trying to go paperless..we presently use a notebook system..d-ring seems to be the best, we can get them up to 3" ...but they set on a shelf..We have 27 different dividers in the notebook, project info, contract, meeting notes, colors, plans,etc .and the CSI 16 sections (for the estm.) and a bunch more... it works great for us... but I want to move to the paperless lap top process....that way we maybe can store info from the job on a CD instead of the back office. Besides I have a real problem with paper... it seems to lay around a bit to much for my liking.


        • #5
          Re: Filing systems

          Maybe this is too in-depth for your needs, but our filing system is as follows:


          1. Bids
          2. Subcontractors (each having a Paid Bills, Administration, and Shop Drawings file)
          3. Pre-Contract Correspondence
          4. Construction Schedule
          5. Contract with Owner
          6. Correspondence with Architect
          7. Correspondence with Owner
          8. Correspondence - General
          9. Correspondence with Project Site
          10. Acceptance Forms
          11. Cash Tickets
          12. Cost Reports - Monthly
          13. Cost Reports - Weekly
          14. Equipment Lists
          15. Estimate for Payment
          16. Estimating
          17. Field Work Order
          18. Insurance
          19. Meeting Notes
          20. Permits
          21. Proceed Orders
          22. Project Diary
          23. Proposals
          24. Punchlists
          25. Purchase Orders
          26. Record of Conversation
          27. Reports and Tests
          28. Request for Information
          29. Safety

          For smaller jobs we condense these as needed (one Correspondence file for everythin for example)]

          Our data files are similar but not quite as detailed. We do not catalog anything not computer-generated on our server, only in hard copies.


          • #6
            Re: Filing systems

            Fantastic responses, thank you all. Sometimes it helps to see what others are doing to help evaluate yourself. Mike, you have outlines similar, although a bit more detailed than I have, I like the way you break a few of the items out that I just have thrown in together.

            Mike, is your bid folder broken out by trade, or do you lump them all together with a bid log on the inside? I think that is what I am going to do.

            Stacy, I do my invoices just like you and it works for me. I have tried the folder on the job thing, but my folder has disappeared too many times for that to be my main folder.

            Here is how I'm thinking of handling the jobsite folder contents:

            Always have most recent Plans
            Changes and additions to plans/scope
            Special Notices to Subs
            Special Notices to Suppliers
            Workmanship Standards (by trade)
            Cleanliness Standards - project wide
            Dispute Proceedures
            Communication Proceedures
            (this is for the owners as much as subs, no subs are allowed to authorize changes without consent of WDBC - not that owners would ever try to have work done outside the contract on the quiet! :-)

            Thanks for your feedback.


            • #7


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                • #9
                  Re: Filing systems- long

                  Excellent information!