Importance of Good Documentation
Good contract management requires good documentation which records what has or has not been done on a construction project.
Good documents and document control are necessary in construction projects:
- to establish what was agreed under the Contract;
- for the efficient management and execution of a project;
- for the maintenance of reliable information that can be used by the parties to fulfill their respective obligations under the contract;
- to detail the facts of what occurred during the construction.
Despite the obvious importance of good documents, complicated and difficult disputes arise when documents are not properly compiled or managed.
For example, claims made under a contract need to be supported by facts and evidence.
Inadequate documents are often the reason why contractors are unable to prove their proper entitlements.
To improve the reliability of documents and project records in support of contract claims, consider the following tips:
- Keep contemporaneous records
Records made of events as they occur are likely to be more accurate than records made based on memory later in time.
- Documents should contain firsthand information
Records created from what the recorder sees, hears or perceives directly will be treated more favorably than records prepared based on the assertions of others.
- Maintain document security
The recording process should be kept secure to minimise the possibilities of fraud or manipulation.
For example, handwritten paper records should be should signed off by the author at the end to prevent the risk of blank spaces being completed by others.
- Records should be consistent
The recording of facts should be capable of being confirmed in a number of different ways. For example time sheets, site diaries, photographs and other documents recording activities should be capable of confirming facts consistently.
Any anomalies or inconsistencies between the different types of records should be identified early and either corrected or explained.
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