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By: Kendall Jones on April 6th, 2018

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Improving Collaboration in Construction

Blog Posts | Operating Insights

As construction projects become more complex, effective collaboration is increasingly becoming a key factor in completing projects on time and within budget while delivering a quality product to the client. Good collaboration leads to many benefits like innovation, time and cost saving, added value for the client, reduced errors and unnecessary rework.

Good project collaboration is more than just everyone completing tasks on schedule. It involves building a strong relationship with all stakeholders based on trust and respect to work together to successfully complete a project. Being able to cooperate and coordinate efforts to improve productivity is essential.

Achieving true collaboration can be tricky, it requires careful planning, coordination and buy-in from all parties involved on the project. Here are some tips for successfully collaborating on your next project:

Start Early

Collaboration should begin in the early planning stages of a project. Bringing in the major players on a project, owner, architect, engineers, general contractor and key subcontractors, can lead to better design and decision making. These stakeholders should have some say and input on scheduling, coordination, materials, etc. during the design phase. It starts everyone on the same page and sets the tone for the project.

It’s important to rely on the expertise and knowledge base of the entire project team which can result in true innovation in approaching the project. A well-integrated team will lead to better project performance and reduce risks for all involved. Part of the collaboration process can include allocating risks to the parties best equipped to deal with them.

Strong Leadership

In order to establish strong collaboration, you must start at the top. The leadership team need to facilitate collaboration. They need to be able to control and drive collaboration, handle issues that arise and drive the project through to completion.

Project managers, construction superintendents, the design team and the rest of the core leadership are in charge working together and driving collaboration. They should be meeting on a regular basis to discuss progress and monitor how well the various teams are working together to see the project through to completion. They also need to look at ways to improve collaboration and make adjustments as needed.

Communication

Collaboration goes hand in hand with good communication and keeping everyone together on the same page. It revolves around trusting all parties and valuing their input as integral members of the team. This can be accomplished by having a good communication plan in place.

It’s important to determine a chain of command for communication on a construction project. These are typically spelled out in the contract documents and usually require the owner and general contractor to communicate with each other through the architect. The architect is responsible for communicating with its consultants and the general contractor is responsible for communicating information to the suppliers and subcontractors. The superintendent on a project is typically the main point of contact for the general contractor.

Establishing a clear line of communication that includes identifying points of contact with contact information for key team members is vital to ensuring that information is getting to the right people in a timely manner. Collaboration will fail if there’s a breakdown in communication.

Integrated Software Solutions

Technology has had a significant impact on improving communication and facilitating stronger collaboration over the last few years in construction. Everything from smartphones and tablets to Building Information Modeling (BIM) and cloud-based project management software has made it easier to manage construction projects.

Collaboration is critical to successfully move a project from estimating to the field. Software solutions can be a major asset to drive consistency and facilitate collaboration. When team members have access to the same information in real-time, it streamlines the process and makes conversations more productive.