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The Importance of Tech-Enabled Collaboration

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Your typical construction project brings together a cadre of professionals of varying disciplines, who must all work together in precise synchronization for the common goal—delivering work on time and on budget.

Wrangling all of those disparate groups and uniformly focusing their efforts on their respective responsibilities requires functional and efficient collaboration. When dealing with dozens of contractors, subcontractors, site supervisors, and laborers, particularly across multiple jobsites, managing those different groups effectively is essential. Otherwise, you’ll end up buried in an endless back-and-forth where nobody seems to be on the same page.

Collaboration Drives Productivity

Technology has improved to the point where real-time collaboration platforms have become an integral part of an efficient construction company’s arsenal.

Technology has improved to the point where real-time collaboration platforms have become an integral part of an efficient construction company’s arsenal. They make it easier than ever for every team member to know exactly what they’re doing at all times. They’re also a great tool for boosting accountability, discovering mistakes early, and reducing time-consuming rework that stems from misunderstandings or poor communication.

Project management software like Procore have been gaining popularity because they bring a multitude of tools under one roof; they connect every project member to a unified platform containing up-to-the-minute details about every aspect of the project. This creates an environment of collaboration where updates or changes are made system-wide in real-time. This way they are instantly referenceable, leaving no one out of the information loop. Never again will there be a delay in an important revision or note being passed along the entire chain of command. Such platforms dramatically boost efficiency and productivity because no one on the team is left wondering what they’re responsible for or working from outdated drawings or specs.

Narrowing Distance Between Field and Office

Using such platforms reduces the distance between the field and the office to almost zero. Not too long ago, collaboration in construction consisted mostly of walkie-talkies, computer printouts, and trips from the office to the jobsite. With firms facing ever-increasing demands from clients, they are being forced to do more and more in spite of dwindling resources. To maintain their already slim margins, every time-saving action or process improvement means an improvement to the bottom line. Improving collaboration is an obvious area to find time- and cost-saving opportunities in any operation.

In many cases, chain emails are about the extent of their collaboration when it comes to technology. 

Manual processes and paper-based project tracking have been the standard in the industry since the earliest days. Even now, many construction firms are still relying heavily on such outdated methods. In many cases, chain emails are about the extent of their collaboration when it comes to technology.

Paper gets lost, handwriting can be misread, emails can be missed or ignored. Cloud-based collaborative platforms keep all drawings, documents, contracts, change orders, and even schedules within an arm’s reach at all times to everyone who needs instant access via internet-connected devices.

Benefits of BIM 

No conversation about construction project collaboration would be complete without mentioning BIM, a data-driven 3D collaborative modeling process which has swept large swaths of the industry. BIM is highly flexible. It enables firms to share strikingly detailed digital site plans project-wide. With BIM models, all changes made, questions asked, and input provided by various subcontractors can be seen in real-time on one shared file. BIM can identify early issues in the pre-construction phase, analyze potential issues caused by altering structural or design elements, and reduce waste by identifying pre-fabrication opportunities. It thus ensures the right materials are delivered according to the plan’s exact specifications. All contributions made to the model can be later referenced and recalled in order to quickly identify the source of a problem.

Construction is one of the most collaborative industries there is. Considering the fragmented nature of the workforce and the high degree of precision required to meet project requirements, it’s an environment that practically cries out for the best collaboration methods available. 

Today’s technology gives us the option to keep every contract, change order, drawing, model, and punch list close at hand, accessible and updatable to all, leading to a golden age of collaboration in the industry.

If you liked this article, here are a few eBooks and webinars you may enjoy: 

The Future of Collaborative File Sharing

Keeping Your Technology Up to Date

Adapt Before You Fail: Embracing Technology in a Face to Face Industry

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