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Improving Communications Within Construction Teams

Posted by Brock Brown on Apr 17, 2019 2:26:04 PM

Improving Communications Within Construction Teams

Just because it’s right there in the industry name, doesn’t mean that companies responsible for building telecommunication infrastructure are immune to basic communication challenges that can set a project back.

According to a study by the Project Management Institute (PMI), 55% of project managers surveyed agreed, “the most crucial success factor in project management is effective communications to all stakeholders.”

No wonder. Whether it is the construction manager, the engineers, the sales department, a fiber supplier, or the executive team – all stakeholders require accurate, current and timely information to guide their work and inform their decisions. Clear, concise and regular communication with all stakeholders is essential throughout all stages of the project. The more informed your team is, the more aligned they will be. 

To ensure team members are kept in the loop at all times, it is important to have robust systems in place to ensure everyone is working from the same page, using the most current and complete information available.

While many communication challenges can be addressed by implementing new technologies, such as a central construction management software platform, others come down to the basics.

Set expectations and ensure clear understanding of deliverables at the outset

Before the first shovel (or trencher) hits the ground, ensure all stakeholders are provided with the project plan – including project drawings, contracts, schedules, budget and resource details. Be clear in setting expectations. Also ensure estimates and deliverables are in fact realistic and achievable.

Establish a centralized chain of command for communications and reporting

By establishing a clear chain of command for reporting and authorization, you ensure all pertinent information is being received and shared with all stakeholders through a centralized process. This is important for both accuracy and accountability. For example, a construction manager should not expect to receive change orders from the project manager, architect and engineer. When chain of command is circumvented, confusion can ensue – leading to increased (sometimes unauthorized) expenditures, scope creep, schedule delays and other issues that can have a domino effect. 

Make daily field reporting mandatory 

One of the biggest reasons for miscommunication is the lag time in receiving progress updates from the field. By making daily updates mandatory, project managers will get a better handle on progress, and can more confidently report to other stakeholders.

The key is to not make daily reporting too onerous on the construction manager. New digital reporting platforms, including app-based technologies, are significantly cutting the time required to file reports. And submitting updates electronically saves the construction manager from having to physically visit the office or schedule a courier.

Make it easy for stakeholders to access contract documents and project resources 

Today, there is no excuse why stakeholders can’t easily and securely access key project resources – whether they are on the construction site or in the corner office on the top floor. It can be as simple as providing remote server access to stakeholders. Today’s leading construction management software platforms make key documentation readily available from any workstation or mobile device.

Project managers are finding instructional videos are a valuable resource that can be made available this way. They can be shared through the project/construction management platform, a project portal, server or even a YouTube channel. These videos can demonstrate proper installation techniques and more. Crews can access these videos from jobsite, to help cut down on errors and reduce downtime waiting for answers.

Be diligent in documentation 

In telecommunications deployment, or any other infrastructure construction where the product is buried on installation, it is imperative that all work is documented and signed off before moving onto the next project. It is about communicating that the job was done right through verifiable means. Ultimately, it provides greater accountability and quality control. Documentation is also useful in situations where clarification is required, or in the event of a dispute.

These days, everyone has a top-of-the-line digital camera and video device right in their pocket, making detailed documentation easier than ever before. 

Find a common project platform that is your single source of truth

In many cases, the greatest barrier to communication is not having all information easily accessible in one place. The construction industry is notorious for this. A single project may involve thousands of spreadsheets, and multiple technologies (cost tracking software, design programs, estimating systems… the list goes on).

Again, this is where it is valuable to have all information reside on a single construction management platform that is used by the entire team. Such a system doesn’t necessarily replace all other management tools. Rather, it is an integrated solution that serves as a single source of truth for the project.

Technology doesn’t replace the need for one-on-one communication

While new technology is making it easier than ever to provide real-time project information to stakeholders using a single platform, it doesn’t replace the need for personalized communications.

Each stakeholder will have questions and concerns specific to their particular role. As a project manager, it is important to be proactive in reaching out to individual stakeholders on a regular basis. Choose the communication method best suited to the task. Emails are great for brief updates or simple questions. If in-depth discussion or decision making is required, a phone call, video conference or face-to-face meeting may be more appropriate.

A platform for success

By combining new collaborative construction management platforms that provide centralized information to all stakeholders with proven communication strategies, you can start getting results that everyone will be talking about!

Get your team working from the same page

Learn how Vitruvi™ construction management software centralizes project data in real-time for greater collaboration and understanding. Book a demo today.

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