Why It’s Actually Safer To Ditch The Paper Trail

I’ve mentioned before that I grew up in a construction family.

With my grandfather, father, brother and various uncles owning construction companies I know (as in I really, truly know) how important covering your ass is. I’ve witnessed first-hand the frustration and inevitable time-suck that occurs with any type of lawsuit.

Construction business owners are some of the busiest and most stressed out people on the planet. Add a lawsuit to their list of things to deal with, and their pace of productivity briefly unravels, taking a toll on the whole company.

Threat of lawsuit hangs over the head of a construction business owner like a dark cloud you know is going to unleash a torrent of rain…you just don’t know exactly when. Some lawsuits are bullshit and just waste time. Others are legit. But no matter what – business owners have got to cover their asses no matter which end of the lawsuit they’re on.

As with most things in construction, covering your ass tends to mean a long, comprehensive paper trail. As a lawyer recently told one of my family members “When you don’t have a paper trail, that one piece of information that’s missing, well, that’s where they get you.” And that’s exactly why everyone I know in construction has got mountainous stacks of paper-filled binders lying around their offices and stored in giant storage units. That paper is insurance for when (notice I didn’t say if) they get called into court.

Considering my knowledge of the ever-present-threat-of-lawsuit, it might surprise you to learn that I’m telling you to ditch the paper trail. Not your audit trail – just the paper version of that trail.

paper-trail-construction

I know it sounds scary, implausible and quite possibly insane. But let me explain why a digital trail is superior to those stacks of paper you’ve got laying around.

If you’re hesitant to rely on a digital trail it’s likely you’ve experienced or heard of someone who kept all their information on a company IT system believing it was forever safe and then….boom! A bug hit, and everything was wiped clean. Or the system crashed and information took days to recover. And then of course we all know that guy on the jobsite who says something like ‘In the old days, you just kept it all in a filing cabinet – right where you could always get to it!’

But then again…did you ever hear the story about the file of papers that suddenly went missing or were tampered with? Or the one about the warehouse that caught on fire, taking years of records with it?

These scenarios are all scary, but in this day and age, using the appropriate software means your company’s data is safer than it’s ever been.

Why is it that so many people are more trusting of files of easy-to-destroy papers sitting in who-knows-where than they are of secure, cloud-based files that are protected using advanced technology? Look at Apple’s current legal problem, for example. Apple’s security restrictions are so strong, that even the FBI can’t break through.

Thanks to cloud-based software and superior security systems (that are continually evolving to become better and better), the digital trail is unquestionably the safer, more secure and more durable trail. You don’t need to take my word for it. Check out this article from Forbes on the 7 most common misconceptions about security threats in cloud computing.

One of FieldLens’ features is an uneditable audit trail. Once data is entered into FieldLens, it’s there forever, along with the person who put it there, and a date and time stamp. All of this information is easily searchable as well. You need to find out exactly when a safety alert was reported to the project team, or when a payment was submitted, or anything else communicated about a project – it’s all right there, safe and secure forever, even if you stop using FieldLens. If you’re ever interested in the technology behind that, leave a comment below and I’ll have one of our excellent developers explain.

Tech futurists are confident that paper use isn’t going to be common in the workplace for much longer. So even if you’re not comfortable with the idea of ditching the paper trail now, it’s going to happen eventually whether you like it or not. Beyond being forced by time and progress, keep in mind that the digital trail is secure, cost efficient and saves time. And that makes good business sense.