Six Fatal Mistakes from Growing Engineering Firms

As companies expand, document handling quickly becomes convoluted, and the need to remain organized comes to the forefront of their operations. Despite many companies’ best efforts to maintain control over their documents, the vast number of files and types required by engineering firms makes it difficult for them to manage the documents and drawings and the employees who handle them.

There are a few inimical mistakes many engineering-based companies make when expanding their operations and workforce, most of which can be mitigated or prevented by a formal document management system. Here are six fatal mistakes from growing engineering firms:

1: Inefficient document searching and handling

Document searching and handling time is one of the most commonly overlooked facets of the engineering design and development process. It accounts for roughly 30% of the time required for engineering document management. Depending on the size of an organization, documents can be buried among thousands, if not millions, of documents, making them incredibly difficult to locate when needed. If an engineer can’t successfully locate a document, there is rework to be done, which can significantly slow the design process, and ultimately cause project delays and increase costs.

2: No single source of truth

Organizations need to rely on a single source of truth so employees and third parties have a shared understanding of the status of a document or drawing. Vendors and contractors can also benefit from a document management system as it allows them to create realistic project timelines and build a culture of accountability among all collaborators.

3: Not using audit trails

Audit trails promote accountability and allow for process improvement by providing originations with a simple way to track the actions of users and documents during critical workflows. When an employee makes a change to a document or drawing, the document management system records the changes and creates a log that can be viewed by project managers, consultants, and system administrators.  Project management can then determine if the actions were correct and/or performed within the appropriate timeframe to ensure workers are held accountable for their actions.

Audit trails also help companies respond to e-discovery systems, with information including timestamps, user names, document versions, and accessing devices. Compliance management is made easy, as it provides complete transparency for auditors and organizations working in highly regulated industries.

4: Not utilizing automation to manage workflows

Workflow automation can significantly improve efficiency and productivity, as it reduces the number of manual actions needed for document management related actions like assigning status changes or distributing documents and drawings to third parties. Users can automate actions such as publishing, copying, archiving, or deleting a document, and can even change information in the document’s metadata as it moves between steps.

Automated workflows help managers track the status of a document to ensure workers promptly complete and notify about steps. Additionally, they help organizations locate bottlenecks as they occur, allowing project managers to adjust workflows accordingly.

5: Not using version control

Version control is arguably one of the most important features of a document management system. Far too often, companies store files locally on their device, using improper naming conventions or versioning schemes like simply adding a number to a file name. Employees can lose documents or submit the incorrect version, which slows the engineering design and development process or even jeopardize the project entirely.

6: Not securing intellectual property

Intellectual property is at the heart of every engineering firm’s business. If this information is compromised, so is the business itself. Document management systems help organizations secure their IP through various layers of security – ranging from multifactor authorization procedures to access control at the global, project, file, or file metadata level.

Companies can utilize automated workflows to changes permissions as a document is needed. Doing so ensures employees only have access to the documents they need when they need them and they can only view, print, or download documents that are needed directly for their role.

In summary, these six fatal mistakes from growing engineering firms can be mitigated or prevented by a formal engineering document management system.


ImageSite is a robust engineering workflow and document management solution that provides clarity for large organizations or companies looking to expand their workforce. ImageSite provides features such as version control, workflow automation, advanced searching, and multiple levels of security and access control.

eQuorum, the creators of ImageSite, have been helping companies manage their digital files and documents for more than 25 years, making the company a leader in engineering document management software. If you would like to learn more about ImageSite or Engine-Box (the Cloud version of ImageSite), click here. Or, if you would like to try it for yourself, schedule a demo here.