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Construction Photos and Long Term Records Retention January 14, 2013

Posted by carolhagen in archiving, Construction Industry - Software, records retention.
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Construction photographs are collected on every one of your projects. For years we’ve taken pics with our digital cameras and smartphones, but the challenge has been how to organized these. A file of jpeg1, jpeg2, etc taken at jobsite X on a given date really doesn’t help if a legal claim crops up a few years from now. Sometimes making heads or tails of what and where on the jobsite a photo was taken renders the photo practically useless unless…

You know about Threshold from 383 Studio, a better way to document, photograph, organize and send photos right from the jobsite. Here’s a quick video overview:

What makes this app unique isn’t that it’s easy to use, quick to annotate photos or even that it has a mobile App. What get’s me excited is that there’s a way to export you photos to you content management system for long term storage. All the other Apps I’ve seen lock you into an annual contract for you to have access to your photos once the project is completed. While Threshold has this Archiving option they also offer, as Google likes to call it “data liberation”.

As a long-time proponent of a paperless office, The export function allows you to download the photos with some of the meta data into file folders. What this allows me to do is generate a deliverable of all construction documents and photos to the project owner in a neat as-built package. The Content Archive function of Construction Imaging can consume folder structures into its enterprise content management system effortlessly making these two solutions a great fit.

To be upfront on disclosure, I have business relationships with both Threshold and Construction Imaging. This unique pairing really can deliver the goods and I’d be happy to discuss just how this marriage can work in your construction firm.

If you think you want to take Threshold for a spin, use “Hagen383” to get a 10% discount www.thresholdcm.com

Email Records Retention can be Tricky August 31, 2009

Posted by carolhagen in archiving, Construction Industry - Software, email, records retention.
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5 comments

Last week I spoke on “Records Retention” and “The Paperless Office” at the  54th Annual Convention of the National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC).  The room was packed and the reality of the situation is that the majority of construction firms have not addressed written records retention policies.  Most that have are the  over $100 million in annual revenues, and many in attendance had forgotten to include e-policies for their email,  text messages,  and social networking activities.

Carol Hagen greets Judy DeWeese

Carol Hagen greets Judy DeWeese

The most interesting discussion was a firm (company A) that had experienced a legal discovery issue which centered around email.  They now have a written policy, all emails are removed from the exchange server and computers accordingly. They even erase the tape backups that contain the email per their retention policy.  So far so good.  What caught my attention was that the engineers said they wanted to keep a copy of the email, so they print them out and put them in the project file.  This is in direct violation of their own policy.

I spoke with a subcontracting firm (company B) that did the opposite of what was described above.  They just didn’t have space to electronically manage email so for them the record was kept  by printing it and placing it in the project folder and it was erased from their email systems.  A general contracting firm claimed they had not approved of a change order (they themselves did not archive their own email) and this subcontractor showed them a copy of their email approval.  The GC backed off, but this document won’t hold up in court.  Why? Lack of metadata.

In both situations there’s no metadata to prove the document is authentic and unaltered.  In Company A’s case, if you print your email, it is a copy.  Their next discovery issue, if only emails are requested might go undetected, but if they are asked for the project files they’re in a heap of trouble.  The courts will think they deleted the electronic version to “hide” something .  It’s because Company A is not uniformly enforcing their email retention policy.  In Company B’s case it is a copy but not worth the paper it’s printed on in court.  Both firms have exposure.  If they read this article they know they have risks.  What’s important at Company B is that they don’t have that GC’s attorney ask for the original email.  The tactic of scaring them away with the paper and calling upon their ethics is a good method, but be prepared if the GC has a tech savvy lawyer. 

If you want to keep emails, you should use an email archiving system.  If you don’t, then you need to educate all your employees that it means no copy in any form  – paper or electronic.  The E-Policy Handbook by Nancy Flynn has a great rule for you all to consider…” A destructive retention policy that calls for the purging of email on a regular intervals may render you the only party in the courtroom who is unable to produce copies of your own email.  That’s a position you never want to be in!”

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