Documenting Project Specifications


From original questioner:

In my current process I work with the customer to design my projects (built-in entertainment centers and some other cabinets). I'll draw up the design either on paper, eCabinets or Visio. I typically make notes on a hard copy of my plans, such as finish schedule, material list, installation notes, etc. The notes often end up lost, damaged or misplaced.
I'd like to get things a little more organized and provide a formal system, maybe a database, to document the as-built specifications for each project.
Things I'd like to capture:
- drawings
- pictures
- bill of materials
- finish schedule
- specifics about door or drawer front profiles
- hardware
- customer information
- pricing/estimate
- actual costs
- actual labor for construction, installation, finishing
- start, finish and due dates
- general notes

What process do you suggest for a one person shop to keep all the pertinent data about a project?
Is there a software product that would meet my needs off-the-shelf?

Thank you,


From contributor ca

Currently, we use a 3 ring binder system and have divider tabs that keep the different classifications of data separated. We make a copy of the cut lists and send to the floor. All the originals stay in that binder on a shelf in the office. Hope this helps

From contributor ja

I bought a good version of Adobe acrobat ($300.00) I scan all docs using it and file them in a system

Jobs> Contractor> Specific job> Contracts draws change orders, Shop drawings submittals, Original plans and specs. ETC.

From contributor Bi

Keeping up with the information is difficult, especially when customers keep changing their minds. We do 2 things, #1 is we have a folder on the computer called 'Jobs'. Within jobs we create a folder for each job. We dump everything in there, quotes, contracts, invoices, change orders, drawings, photos, even things customers send from the web like handles, sinks etc. You can have folders inside the customer folder. You will need Acrobat, and we use a free version, and you need a scanner. #2 is we have Microsoft Office, and with that comes One Note. It's another place to keep things relating to the job, we use it for customer emails. Every customer email is put into a job folder in One Note. It took about an hour of fooling around to learn it. If you make notes on hard copies, then you should copy, or scan those pages. I 'hand off' a job to the shop foreman with approved drawings, a sheet that says everything about the job, materials, door style, counter top info, flooring, mouldings, appliance info, etc. Even with all this, things still get screwed up sometimes!

From contributor ja

Really cool thing about using Adobe is you can Use the Print command (select Adobe pdf) and turn an email into a document (pdf) saved in the file as well !!!

From contributor Al

If you are a paper guy use cabinet makers system, otherwise PDF and electronic that you can access from your mobile device (SkyDrive, Google drive, drop box whatever).

We like Bluebeam cad revu ro PDF creation, you can take a photo on your windows or apple tablet and integrate into the pdf so if you did a drawing with a match existing profile then you could take a picture of the profile and dimension it in the pdf.

The system doesn't matter as long as it works for you, personally I prefer an electronic system but both systems require some management.


From contributor Br

Lots of great replies. I like the PDF and OneNote ideas. I have been playing with onenote a bit and like the idea.

Thanks for the good ideas. Time to get a little more organized!

From contributor Ji

I created a folder for my company. Everything and I mean everything goes into that folder with a lot of sub folders. I bought a fujitsu scanner and use pdf format. I simply create a folder for a customer. Pictures, notes, appliance specs go into that folder. When measure job all field dimensions into folder. This took sometime to train myself and stick with the system but it has payed off. My company folder is backed up to carbonite. I also back up on jump drive for my piece of mind.

From contributor Ma

We have been using this for about 2 years
I run everything from this software and it has been a real game changer for us.

From contributor Pa

If you have a smart phone just create a job folder and take photos of all the paperwork, job site conditions, extras, etc.
Then if needed just email them to yourself and store them on your computer