Making collaboration your next competitive advantage
Collaboration in the construction industry is essential to completing projects on time and budget. Construction collaboration technology refers to software applications used to enable effective sharing of project-related information between geographically dispersed members of a construction project team, often through use of web-based and mobile software as a service platforms.
In a report by McGraw Hill Construction, general contractors reported the ability to share project documents as the top factor affecting collaboration. Construction firms collaborate with outside parties at double the rate of the other industries in the study.
The following 5 important factors were found that leads to willingness to collaborate among contractors:
- Encourages teamwork
- Stimulates information sharing
- Improves quality and timely project completion
- Enhances service quality
- Better communication among project members
For successful project delivery, construction data must be shared with a wide swath of stakeholders, from owners to field supervisors to specialty trade contractors. These different organizations are flocking to cloud technologies that allow collaboration in real time from central models.
The cloud is changing how companies operate and succeed in an increasingly scattered business environment. Intra-organizational distribution of information is very high for construction. Project plans and related documents touch multiple teams as information flows from offices to project sites.
A study from Constructech showed that nearly 80 percent of general contractors say they now use a tablet in the field, up from 26 percent two years ago. Unlike desk-based tasks, construction requires being on site, and data is created and consumed where the work is performed. For example, safety forms are completed and retrieved on tablets instead of paper, cutting out the need to deliver each form to the office.
Effectiveness of the construction process strongly depends on the quality of communication
Communication usually involves the transfer of information, a generic term that embraces meaning such as knowledge, processed data, skills and technology.
Communication within project-based environments presents special challenges. This is especially true within the construction industry, where interaction tends to be characterised by unfamiliar groups of people coming together for short periods before disbanding to work on other endeavours.
The efficiency and effectiveness of the construction process strongly depends on the quality of communication. In a recent study four reasons are mentioned why improvements in communication are needed.
- An improvement in the communication within the building team, in project teams and between project manager and contractors, could reduce failure.
- More open communication at all levels could lead to innovations and better technical solutions.
- Communication improvements in early phases of projects would positively influence the quality as perceived by all stakeholders involved.
- Improved communication during the briefing might lead to better decision making, for example less haste in moving to solutions and better ways of looking at the requirements first.
Good communication within an organization and between organizations contributing to the construction project can improve motivation levels and improve the processes. Conversely, inadequate communication can result in a demotivated workforce and lead to problems in construction. Effective flow of data and communication at every stage of a construction project is essential for achieving required coordination and collaboration between the project participants, leading to successful management of the projects.
Equipping each worker with a mobile device is arming them with another tool for the jobsite. It allows for collaboration and communication between teams and other companies. They are an effective instrument that the construction industry can use to manage the growing use of pdf formatted documents for project documentation and communication.
Tammy Erickson, in a Harvard Business Review post, predicted what’s next for collaboration and technology: “The frontier of human productive capacity today is the power of extended collaboration – the ability to work together beyond the scope of small groups. Today’s technologies have the potential to enable a very different level of business performance, but only when accompanied by a thoughtful redesign of the way your business is done”