Construction Management in the Digital Age

March 25, 2015

Construction firms are now utilizing electronic signatures

Mike Brown Risk Manager KBD Group

Mike Brown, LEED AP

I’m often one of the last to leave our office in the evening. Sometimes I leave a little too late and notice our cleaning crew straightening up the office at the end of the day. They dust off computers, surfaces and even the copiers, but there’s one piece of equipment they tend to ignore – the fax machine.

They aren’t the only ones who ignore it. I haven’t sent or received a fax in months. There are some colleagues who like sending faxes, and I respect the classics, but I don’t need more paper on my already cluttered desk. That’s one of the reasons why I was happy when KBD Group committed to digitize its subcontracts. We’re going to save trees, reduce our carbon footprint and most importantly, help me keep my desk clean. Our subcontracting process will no longer be as labor intensive. We used to print reams of paper each week, send subcontracts back and forth by snail mail or express, then wait a week for physical signatures on those paper contracts hoping someone didn’t miss a page when processing them. Subcontractors will only have to physically handle a few pages and the rest of those documents will be in PDF. Also, these electronic contracts are just as enforceable as paper contracts. Think about when you buy new software online. You enter your payment information and check a box saying you agree with all terms and conditions. To an attorney, there’s no difference between the checkbox and a physical signature – you’ve still agreed to the contract.

KBDGroupElectronicSignaturesTo be quite honest, I can’t remember the last time someone asked for an original signed contract for a subcontractor. That doesn’t mean we don’t keep a file, but I’m more prone to send a PDF by e-mail before printing a contract. I’ve asked a couple of attorneys at recent networking events and all of them prefer electronic contracts versus paper. Actually, attorneys have studied and approved electronic documents to the point where it has become the standard for many companies around the world. It’s a progressive and responsible standard.

KBD Group handles contracts a bit more conservatively than others, and we weren’t the earliest adopters of electronic contract documents because we wanted to have a sound process. We’re known for our effective and detailed management of our clients’ projects. Some companies go for the flashiest new technologies without testing for compliance, effectiveness and reliability, and that isn’t the best use of clients’ budgets. The KBD Group places more value on getting things done right than just participating in the latest fad. That commitment to value is passed on to our customers, which is the reason why we are an industry leader today.

The fax machine is almost the same age as KBD Group and has evolved from stand-alone machines to fax servers. Like the fax machine, KBD Group is always advancing and we persistently use the principle of Kaizen, or “continual improvement,” to add value to our services. This includes ensuring our contracts and projects are managed the right way not just the newest way.

- Mike Brown, Risk Manager, KBD Group USA