A Case Study in Document Control on Major Projects


A major rail project ($2 Billion+) was given a target to meet early completion by 3-6 months. The project status of document control was that, of 8 discipline areas on the project, only 1-2 had been following some form of formal document control procedure. Six others were using different processes, using their own shared drive file structures, putting duplicate documents into different document management systems or had little or no system. There were also a number of hard copy drawings and records stored in places that were unclear to others on the project. It was apparent that the project would not meet the deadline due to the poor document control and project delivery practices on the project. Other issues were:

  • Poor and/or non-existent procedures in the design teams drafting as-built, internal and external review processes.
  • Project records had been stored in various different places, formats and structures.
  • Other crucial controlled documents and key project documentation had been stored between a number of systems shared drives, flash drives, personal drives or not scanned in at all with no formal process for managing it.
  • Some designs had been submitted through the document management system, but the as-built design process had not been considered fully or at all.
  • The work had not been planned end-to-end to ensure that the 1000’s of documents to be submitted into the process would be completed through all 3 phases of the clients checking process in the required time frame.

With 6 months before practical completion, the realisation was that the team would need to hold on to 10 to 15 extra engineers until all designs, as-builts, redline drawings and required document control processes had been lodged through all of the phases and verification processes. As demonstrated in the graph below, the plan to meet early completion would not to be met. The target to reduce resources and cost for early completion was not on course and the below graph shows that, based on the demobilisation plan, the project was over spending by $100K+ every month. adobe acrobat dc student

adobe acrobat dc student


The Systemix improvement team worked with the stream leads on the project to turn around their document management processes, ensure targets would be met and to bring down the project costs and resource requirements as soon as possible, ensuring early exit from the project. We interviewed key members of the team, completed an online survey to determine key risks, completed a gap analysis and then set about building suitable solutions.

One of the solutions was to quickly build an effective performance management process to:

  • Set effective priorities – e.g. specific streams had not even submitted phase one drawings into the system. Defining a clear set of stream priorities broken down week by week made the tasks more manageable and therefore significantly reduced turnaround times.
  • Complement and strengthen the planning and goal setting processes of exactly which drawings needed to be sped up, by whom and at which point.
  • Ensuring stream lead, team member, personal and organisational accountability of the 4-5 different major organisations involved in the project.
  • Benchmarking for continuous improvement – using simple S curve dashboards to keep close track of planned versus actual submissions, with the project director closely involved.
  • Improving internal and external communication between all parties and ensuring there were no more excuses and that the plan would be met.

Fostering bottom up, project wide innovation to speed up the processing.

Document Management Reporting Tool

We used a browser based Dashboard presenting various levels of metrics, aggregated and summarised from base drawing register data across the key streams. The dashboard had single click, drill-down capability for all elements, through to detailed data levels.

acrobat dc student edition

Visualisation was incorporated at all aggregation levels in the form of charts and graphics designed to display trends and highlight problems at a glance. Detailed data was formatted as appropriate to highlight key areas e.g. items that are critical, late, still in review etc.

We were able to pull the project back on track to meet early completion. This had a significant result on the total spend of the project by pulling document management back in line with the demobilisation plans, which allowed for staff to be demobilised as planned and greatly reducing project costs.


Contact Systemix today to participate in our 42 point Document Control health check: make sure that you meet all of your project deadlines and that your clients are satisfied with your project close out process.

By Hunter Dean and Mia DeMarco

Contact us:

e: admin@systemix.com.au

p: 1300 551 835