Leveraging Digital Signatures in Construction Project Management
The construction industry is one of the few that will never be entirely online. Even during the pandemic, crews had to be out there on the site. Ironically enough, this is one of the industries that will benefit the most from digitalization. There’s no better example of this than the difference you can make by introducing digital signatures.
Here’s how they can benefit your construction business and elevate your administrative tasks to a whole other level.
Legal Validity of E-Signatures for Project Managers
Project managers often question the legal status of digital signatures. Rest assured, in most jurisdictions, digital signatures carry the same legal weight as conventional wet signatures and seals.
This legal recognition is crucial for construction project managers who deal with numerous contracts and documents requiring legal compliance. Digital signatures streamline the verification process, offering a more efficient alternative to traditional methods.
In terms of practical enforceability, wet signatures need to be evaluated by comparing copies of signatures and presenting testimony from handwriting experts or witnesses who were present at the signing. From the very start, it’s clear this is a long and arduous process, sometimes nearly impossible to execute.
On the other hand, the majority of e-signature platforms provide a complete time-stamped history of sends, views, prints, and even an occasional decline action. In other words, analyzing and proving these types of signatures is far easier than their conventional alternatives.
This means that, aside from being recognized in the eyes of the law, they’re preferred compared to the alternative.
Impact on Time Efficiency in Construction Projects
Time management is critical in construction, where delays can be costly. Using electronic signatures can significantly reduce turnaround times for document approvals.
This efficiency is especially relevant given the unpredictable nature of construction work, where external factors like weather can cause unavoidable delays. Tools like Procore eSignature and Autodesk Construction Cloud can help mitigate these delays, ensuring that administrative processes do not contribute to project lag.
Not to mention that construction has its own set of delays. In fact, with modern architectural tools, you’re never considering whether something can be built. A 3D modeling tool empowered with AI algorithms will answer that question in a matter of minutes. You really want to know whether this can be done by a specific deadline.
Even with modern tools, a lot of construction work can’t be done in rainy weather. If you’re pouring concrete, you can’t do it when it’s too cold. There are too many variables and seasonal temperature fluctuations to consider them all.
The last thing you want is to have avoidable delays because you’re not using electronic signatures. Sure, in the past, these delays were inevitable; however, now you have the tools like procore eSignature to avoid them all. Why aren’t you using them?
Conventional Document-Keeping is Inefficient
The main thing you need to understand is that conventional document-keeping could be more efficient. First of all, it’s a matter of fact that you lose about 7.5% of all documents. They’re either stolen, misplaced, or unintentionally destroyed.
Next, the browsability of these documents could be higherh. The same goes for their accessibility. Imagine, in the construction industry, if a sudden inspection was to appear at the construction site and demand a document that’s in the headquarters. When stored on a cloud-based platform, this document is easy to find and produce on demand.
Now, no one argues about the inevitability of digitalizing all construction paperwork or its migration to the cloud. Isn’t it equally as logical that digital signatures have a place in this system, as well?
This is the next step to having a more efficient administration in the construction industry.
Benefits for Field Teams and Stakeholder Engagement
Digital signatures simplify processes for field teams, eliminating the need for physical document transportation. This is particularly advantageous when dealing with large-scale projects or international stakeholders.
This means faster decision-making and improved project flow for construction project managers, as documents can be signed and exchanged instantaneously, regardless of the signatories’ locations.
Sometimes, you’re handling expensive deals with international investors. What are you going to do every time you need a signature? Send a fax? Have them fly their legal representative in so they can sign it themselves, or send them the document by mail and wait for them to autograph it. Sure, you can have them sign and scan a document, but at that point, why not just send it electronically?
As we’ve already mentioned, it’s ultimately enforceable; as for safety, we’ll address it in the next segment.
Is It Resistant to Fraud?
Can digital signatures be forged? Sure! Can they be forged more efficiently than traditional signatures? Not really! You see, a lot of opponents of this tech improvement argue against the low security of these signatures, completely ignoring the fact that the alternative (conventional, hand-signed signatures) is not safer.
In other words, you’re sacrificing a lot of cost and convenience for the sake of some imaginary protection that’s not really doing anything. In other words, you’re surrendering a lot and not gaining anything. In other words, instead of making data-based decisions, you’re being governed by fear.
On top of it all, while forgery is a considerable concern, it’s not that common in practice. It seldom happens in the construction industry; even then, you can uncover it with some effort.
Digital signatures leave a digital footprint, which means that with the right analytics, you can check the details (like where, when, and on what device the signature was made). This is incredibly important for subsequent diagnostics and not something that you have the luxury to ignore.
Enhancing Project Management with E-Signatures
Integrating digital signatures into your project management toolkit offers more than administrative efficiency; it’s a step toward comprehensive digital transformation.
E-signatures can automate and streamline workflows, enhance transparency, and improve collaboration when integrated with project management software. This integration is critical to keeping consistent work packages, improving compliance, and maintaining accountability throughout the project lifecycle.
In conclusion, as a project manager in the construction industry, embracing digital signatures can significantly improve legal compliance, time efficiency, document management, and overall project management. The shift towards digital solutions, including e-signatures, is not just a trend but a strategic move to stay competitive and efficient in a rapidly evolving industry.