Discover the invisible force behind a successful facility management strategy: inventory documentation. Detailed documentation is the key to increasing efficiency, minimizing errors and optimizing operations.
Learn in our article how inventory documentation bridges the gap between planned construction projects and reality. Here, you will find out how inventory documentation builds the foundation for sound facility management decisions.
List of contents
What is inventory documentation?
Inventory documentation, also known as “as-built documentation” refers to all the paperwork that describes exactly how a building was constructed.
It provides an overall history of construction, including all changes made during the building process. As-built documentation covers the entire life cycle of a property, i.e. both in its building phase and in its exploitation phase.
Why do you need inventory documentation?
The way that a building is built never perfectly matches its original design. As-built drawings allow an easy comparison between the design and the final specifications.
As-built drawings should include all changes made during the construction project. Inventory documentation serves as a reference for future maintenance, repairs and facility management activities.
What is the role of inventory documentation in facility management?
These are considered proof in the case, for example, of a fire inspection and are subject to strict control. Legislation, for the construction phase in particular, is especially restrictive and therefore heavily monitored by the authorities.
In facilities management, data about the lifecycle of the building – from original design to its current condition – is vital to perform maintenance, operational tasks and even run advanced simulations.
Compliance is a key aspect of a facility manager’s job, and proper documentation is an integral part of his duties.
Inventory documentation provides:
- liability protection for the building owner
- compliance with legal terms and conditions
- an information basis for measures and cost calculation
A flawless facility documentation is particularly important. Below you will find a list of all of its elements:
- floor plans
- construction plans
- architectural drawings
- documentation of any changes made
Who is responsible for the building inventory documentation?
Operator responsibility in facility management is legally defined. It occurs in EU law in the form of directives and regulations, laws such as the Chemicals Act, legal regulations and administrative provisions.
As a rule, the owner or the operator is responsible for the building inventory documentation. However, some responsibilities can be delegated to third parties, employees or external companies.
Typically, the architect or designer who originally developed the project prepares the as-built plans. He is familiar with the original specifications and therefore the most capable person to register and document the changes.
According to Cornell University Facilities Services, the individuals responsible for as-built drawings vary depending on whether the job is internal or external:
- For internal planning orders, these can be created by any member of the planning team.
- For external design contracts, drawings are prepared by the contractor in assistance with the subcontractors, to be submitted to the architect and incorporated into the as-built drawings.
Even if the owner or operator delegates the creation of as-built documentation, their obligations to monitor and control remain in place.
That is why you, as an owner or operator, must have the required documentation at all times, even if you have passed on this responsibility.
An important tool to collect all feedback from your service providers in one place is order management software such as Wowflow.
Why is good inventory documentation so important in facility management? 4 advantages
There are many advantages of good inventory documentation in facility management, we give you the four most important ones:
- Improved onboarding: When suppliers are added to a project, providing professional inventory documentation helps them to quickly access the right information, allowing them to start work faster.
- Facility management team support: With a complete record of changes, facility management teams can resolve issues faster. Allowing owners to reduce costs thanks to efficient operation.
- Simplified approval process: before issuing building permits, authorities require numerous as-built plans.
- Optimised renovation process: With complete as-built documentation, owners can see exactly what has been built. The as-built documentation serves as a basis for renovation and refurbishment measures, allowing any potential safety issues to be identified immediately.
How can you improve your inventory documentation?
In facility management, lack of information is a common reason for a project to be delayed or even stopped.
To avoid this, please take not of the following points during creation of your professional inventory documentation:
- the correct documentation format (e.g. paper format not always suitable)
- photographic evidence or drawings
- comprehensive data collection
- information about later updates
- clear data organization
In order to simplify the creation of inventory documentation and avoid errors, we recommend digitizing your inventory documentation.
The advantages of digital inventory documentation
The digitization of inventory documentation offers numerous advantages. For example, it makes it easier for you to collect information in everyday work, allowing the persons responsible to document processes directly with photo sketches and floor plans via smartphone or tablet.
Successfully set up as-built documentation before construction start by using a cloud solution
Often the reason teams fail to create detailed and accurate as-built documentation is because a suitable system was not set up on day one.
You and your team should avoid creating as-built plans at the end of construction. Instead, there needs to be a place where data can be captured, stored, edited and distributed throughout the process, before construction begins.
To make the inventorisation process better and increase productivity, storing project plans and project histories on the cloud is essential.
With straightforward, on-site digital access to as-built drawings, you can ensure that all changes are captured and recorded. Meaning that teams can add the necessary documentation on the spot from their phones and tablets.
Teams document everything immediately and don’t have to wait until they get back to the office trying to remember all the important details or copying them from field notes.
With cloud access from the start of a project, photographing, noting and uploading all data on site becomes a walk in the park, resulting in accurate and legally compliant inventory documentation.
Wowflow offers a cloud-based software for your employees to upload photos and generate reports automatically and effortlessly.
From static to agile inventory documentation
Renovations and changes are being made constantly. Even small adjustments affect the condition of a building.
Therefore, as-built project plans cannot remain static. This means that inventory plans have to be:
- available to anyone who needs them: from the future construction team to operations and maintenance personnel.
- accessible from anywhere: Stored in the cloud to allow stakeholders to update and provide documents.
Professional inventory documentation involves a certain amount of effort. The collection of a complete inventory documentation requires high human and time resources.
Automated reporting can reduce this effort and help you avoid disorganized inventory plans from reflecting poorly on your business.
This can be achieved with the right software.
Inventory documentation software: the 4 technologies worth to consider
To create better as-built drawings, it is helpful to use technology that provides a high level of project data from the beginning.
Therefore, pay attention to:
- BIM Software (Building Information Modelling): With the help of BIM software, you can use high-quality information, while keeping it updated.
- Laser Scanning: is a type of laser measuring used to map an area with high accuracy. With laser scanning, the building inventory can be quickly integrated into the BIM method.
- Connected Construction Data (CCD): CCD involves the integration of various technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, mobile devices, and Building Information Modelling (BIM).
- CAFM: As a management system, CAFM offers an interesting solution for graphical and alphanumeric data. The documents can be searched by freely defined properties.
Frequently asked questions
During the construction phase, technical issues such as fire safety, security or technical installations are prioritized. There is a strong connection between inventory documentation and legal regulations.
During daily use, the focus is placed on economic efficiency of the building. The goal being to operate the building as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible, extending its life cycle and preventing expensive repairs.