How to Manage Construction Collaboration: The 3 Most Effective Steps
Studies show construction site workers spend 30% of their time doing rework. And as the Mediterranean Journal’s report shows, such a substantial need for rework arises because of poor communication between project stakeholders. Do you need more research to be convinced of the importance of construction collaboration?
Fostering better collaboration in the construction industry is not an easy task. However, it’s one of the key success factors of your construction business. Let’s explore some proven tips and handy tools to improve construction collaboration!
Why Do You Need to Foster Collaboration in the Construction Industry?
Construction projects are a team effort and therefore require careful coordination. This means all project stakeholders should be well-informed and frequently consulted in the decision-making process.
The documentation of all project milestones, meetings, decisions, changes and findings should be kept up to date throughout the construction period so that everyone is aware of the current status at any given time.
Although it sounds quite straightforward, proper communication and coordination can often be challenging for the construction project manager. Why? Because the construction industry is extremely complex, with many moving parts, stakeholders, and details involved.
It’s hard to make everyone on the same page when there are jobsite workers, engineers, architects, contractors, subcontractors and many other representatives who are all responsible for the success of a project, but happen to work in different locations and have varying levels of expertise.
That’s why effective collaboration in construction is not a given – it requires a lot of work. It can be achieved with the help of modern technologies, like cloud-hosted project management software, up-to-date communication tools and strong discipline.
The Challenge of Communication in Construction
The frustration builders experience while clients make tens of selections before the construction of their dream home begins can be immense. Every party involved in the construction process needs to be on the same page for it to go smoothly.
So, when you enter the stage of construction selections, get ready for endless back-and-forth communication between your team, the subcontractors, and the client. Not to miss out on critical details, it is crucial to have effective communication solutions.
Here’s one below!
Pro Tip: When it comes to communicating important project details, professional software solutions like Buildern’s selection tool can be of important value. It enables the builders to create easy-to-handle and detailed selections for the clients to choose online and keeps a record of all the construction selections in the unified dashboard.
Clients can see the full details of their selections without logging into the system.
Here’s how they receive the selections proposal:
For creating a new selection, you should simply go to the “Selection and Allowances” page, click on the “Add new selection” button, type out the appropriate details and save the changes. Once done, the selection data will be updated for all project stakeholders.
Additionally, by filling out the “Deadline” section you can provide clients with a due date for finalizing the selections.
Select “Add Comments” to get the communication started and share your comments with clients. Clients can view the selections directly in the browser without logging into the system.
If your clients choose to reply to selection comments by email, their responses will be automatically recorded in Buildern as well. So, all data is safe, whichever communication channel you choose.
What Are the Rewards of Effective Construction Collaboration?
Though it might require extra resources and energy to bring smooth collaboration to your construction project, the rewards will make it worthwhile!
Fewer Changes and Rework
Rework can cost the construction industry billions and can damage relationships between owners and contractors.
Average rework on projects can cost between 7.25% and 10.89% of the total construction cost and can stretch the schedule by approximately 9.8% of the planned project time.
According to the Navigant Construction Forum, “All too frequently preventable changes occur when stakeholders see the project for the first time when construction is nearly complete. Change orders at this phase of a project typically are very expensive than earlier issued changes and frequently involve rework and require the removal of some of the work previously completed to implement the change”.
Therefore, strong collaboration from the beginning can drastically decrease the need for rework. Instead of doing everything on your own and showing it to the client on the last phase, invite them to actively participate in the project planning stage and approve all the project steps before jobsite workers start implementing them.
A 2022 report on worldwide Construction Claims stated that the global average value of a construction delay dispute is a staggering US$52.6 million.
Besides uncontrollable factors like weather and equipment failures, missing or incorrect data, inadequate planning and lack of communication are among the top causes of construction delays.
All too often, onsite workers do not have a single source of truth when it comes to critical project data, making it harder for them to make on-the-spot decisions. For example, one source of information could be a drawing spread across multiple jobsite computers and not accessible to everyone. Also, workers can miss important updates or instructions sent via email. As a result, it may take longer than expected to complete the project.
And while “No Delays” may sound optimistic for the construction business, establishing strong communication and collaboration process can help PMs reduce the chances of costly delays because of uneven information distribution among construction crews.
Better Understanding of a Project
There is a big difference between a team blindly executing its work and a team that understands how its tasks fit into the larger project goal. The latter team is far more effective in achieving the desired results. However, this requires a high level of communication and collaboration.
To ensure a given team has a clear picture of the project strategy, Construction Project Managers leverage tools like Buildern to facilitate and streamline communication between different project stakeholders. Platforms like Buildern allow everyone to be on the same page through notifications and interactive dashboards, where every project stakeholder can see the schedule, milestones, comments and messages pertaining to their part of the project.
For example, the Buildern dashboard above shows that the design and engineering teams have already submitted the design drawings and are now waiting for approval from the subcontractors. This helps the project manager stay up to date at every step of the project, increases transparency, and prevents potential misunderstandings before they occur.
Similarly, Buildern can also help share the project scope and timeline with the crew so that everyone knows the tasks that need to be completed, when they must be completed, and how long they will take. This information can help improve the overall planning process by giving workers a better understanding of their roles in the project.
Reliable data is essential for making accurate decisions. But with information scattered across multiple sources, it can be hard to find the right data quickly. That’s why it’s important to have a centralized repository where everyone on the construction team can access the same source of truth – project documents, drawings and reports.
For example, if the engineering team needs to make a design change, the project manager can quickly pull up all relevant data from the construction project management platform to help them evaluate potential risks and decide on the best course of action. With centralized data, PMs can evaluate the impact of the design change on the project timeline and budget in real time, helping them make informed decisions that will keep the project on track.
Optimal Resource Utilization
Construction projects require an enormous amount of resources that include labor, materials and machines. And if the project manager is not able to optimize the utilization of these resources, it can quickly become a costly affair. That’s why ensuring all resources are allocated efficiently and effectively is important.
A collaborative environment greatly supports this. When teams are closely connected and informed about the project tasks and status, they are much better at identifying opportunities to redeploy resources from one task to another to maximize their efficient use.
Furthermore, cloud-based construction project management software can analyze historical data about past projects and provide insights that help PMs anticipate resource requirements for future projects.
By fostering collaboration, you will be able to not only create a healthy working environment for your construction team but also improve team productivity.
A collaborative culture encourages the team to use their full potential to reach common goals.
A spirit of collaboration leads to a healthy environment where everyone is accountable and motivated to perform at their best. This also results in improved efficiency and overall productivity, as well as better communication between team members. And when the team works together in harmony, possibilities open up for successful project completion with high customer satisfaction levels.
Better Brand Reputation
In the residential construction industry, brand reputation is crucial. Who would trust their home building or home renovation to a company that failed to meet the expectations of many clients before? Established collaboration systems significantly decrease the risks of project failures and delays, and therefore, help construction companies maintain a strong reputation in the field.
Good Relationships With Partners
Establishing good communication and using contracting methods that rely on a more collaborative approach is probably the most important step to building a strong relationship with your partner.
Keeping your partners engaged in the entire construction process and updated on project progress provides them with peace of mind that their construction investments are paying off and the results will match the original intentions.
A good working relationship with partners results in repeat business and enhances word-of-mouth marketing for your company.
More Referrals and Higher Profits
Lastly, improved partner relationships and timely delivery of projects lead to an extensive web of clients who speak positively about your services and expertise. Is there anything better for a construction company than a loyal community of advocates ready to refer you to their friends and relatives and drive new customers to your construction firm?
How to Improve Construction Collaboration?
Effective construction collaboration combines three key elements: people, processes and tools.
Here are some tips on how to do that!
#1 Engage Stakeholders Early
Set up the right mood for the project from the very beginning. From sending a detailed construction proposal to your clients to articulating the project’s scope to your crew, engaging stakeholders early on will help ensure everyone is on the same page.
First, avoid vague or uninformative communication. Do not accept a project without understanding the exact requirements, timeline and budget involved. This helps set up realistic expectations for everyone involved in the project.
Second, ensure properly informing your client about what you can deliver. Before you finalize the contract, provide your clients with a detailed estimation of the costs and timeline involved. Ensure they approve the deadlines and budgets so that all stakeholders can start on the same page.
These two initial steps will help create a collaborative environment from the outset and make it easier to maintain effective communication with your stakeholders throughout the project.
#2 Create Customized Proposals with Buildern
Creating a proposal is the entry point for starting a successful collaboration with your client. Buildern lets you create a winning proposal that includes everything your prospective client needs to make an informed decision.
After you’ve built the project estimates, Buildern enables you to put that information straight onto a proposal document.
So, you can include a detailed work schedule, construction process, payment schedules, and any other detail in your construction proposal. In this way, your clients are aware of how the construction project will be running, so they have no surprises or misunderstandings later.
Note! Make sure to clearly identify your responsibility to your prospective client, and their responsibilities to your company.
#3 Establish a Single Source of Data
Once you invite all your clients to Buildern, ensure all project-related information is up-to-date in the platform and everyone has access to the data they need.
Pay close attention to updating the To-Do lists, progress reports, project time tracking charts and other documents to help both parties track the progress of the project.
Buildern is also very handy for communication when dealing with change orders. With Buildern, all parties involved in the project can quickly and easily access information about the request, review changes, schedule important tasks, and more. The comments section allows for a permanent conversation record and makes it easy to track who said what regarding the communication channels. This is especially helpful should a dispute arise that needs resolution later.
The software stores all the paperwork, communication flow, and records in its cloud-based platform so that you can avoid misplacing the paperwork or missing out on essential conversations.
By ensuring the right people have access to the right data and the ability to track it in a single platform, organizations can ensure everyone is on the same page and all stakeholders have an accurate view of the project’s progress. This will help keep misunderstandings to a minimum, reduce disputes and help the project make smoother progress.
Make Construction Collaboration Software an Everyday Necessity
Sorting out all the technicalities and ensuring the project is underway, keep using Buildern every day. Regularly checking the budget, progress reports, and to-do lists will minimize the need for follow-up calls, emails and meetings.
Everyone, from jobsite workers to project managers, should learn how to use the platform and easily find the information they need. With regular use, every stakeholder will be able to efficiently manage tasks and stay informed of all project-related changes and data daily.
Contrary to that, the software will be of limited use for your team if its members are not adequately trained on using the platform and do not make it part of their daily routine.
So, besides technical training, ensure everyone involved in the project takes the time to become familiar with the platform and understand why it’s important for their job. To get started on that path, consider creating a resource center with tutorials and helpful guidelines or incentivizing team members to regularly use Buildern as part of their performance reviews.
When you consider what makes construction projects successful, let effective collaboration be the first that comes to mind. Among many other factors contributing to a construction project’s success, people standing behind it remain the core value that should not be overlooked. Therefore, creating a collaborative environment for the team can make a great difference in how you launch, implement and deliver your projects!