Technology can create collaboration
Changing the building industry’s culture and expectations won’t happen overnight, but projects need to achieve better collaboration now – and technology can bridge the gap. With BIM and QA technology, communication can be immediately improved, reducing conflicts, budget blow-outs and the delays caused by a lack of oversight.
Stuart Wilks, director at Hill International says, “Harnessing the latest technological developments will be key to disputes in the future”.
The singular simplicity of Building Information Modelling (BIM)
A new approach to creating more collaboration in construction, is Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), which focuses on harnessing all the talents and insights of all project participants.
Gadonniex says IPD allows for discussion at the start of the project.
“This creates stronger links between all the various stages. It's extremely important to break down the silos that exist in the industry," she said.
Central to IPD is Building Information Modelling (BIM), which Graham Watts, chief executive of UK’s Construction Industry Council calls, "a real force for collaboration.
BIM is a single comprehensive system that’s not merely a range of 3D models and computer aided design (CAD), but includes vital, added information. Before the ground is even broken, a building can be visualised, its performance tested and its construction analysed. That way, any problems are spotted ahead of time, and the project runs more smoothly and cost-effectively – with better quality in the finish.
However, BIM is only effective if all stakeholders are involved from the get go. And that’s a positive. As Watt’s explains,
“[BIM] can't really operate unless you have the entire team on board at the earliest possible stage – which encourages much earlier contractor involvement".
BIM’s collaborative benefits get piggybacked onto the immediate offerings, making it a much easier ‘sell’ to those still stuck in the old silo paradigm. It means that everyone, from the owner on down, is on board. Here’s what BIM has to offer:
- Full project coordination from beginning to end
- Error-free design that reduces risk
- The sharing of great ideas, at exactly the right time
- A project-wide approach to costs, instead of assuming that cheaper is better
- A collaborative team structure to eliminate competitive inefficiencies
The process consistency of quality assurance (QA)
Added to this, QA software that manages all project documentation can ensure better communication and scheduling, and more consistent progress throughout a build. Make the system accessible to all teams through smart devices, and your teams’ tasks will be completed and documented virtually error-free. Good QA software will also make it easier to manage trade contractor schedules, expectations and changes – in real time.
Good-quality QA software can offer:
- Mobile access to the cloud
With cloud hosting, teams and all key people have access to the system in real time from any site. There are no delays in data entry, so communication and collaboration are enhanced and errors are largely eliminated. Any smart device can access the QA software, allowing all stakeholders to stay connected and up to date.
- Immediate sign-off on site
In the past, on-site changes have been a major cause of miscommunication and cost over-runs. A good QA system includes a sign-off option, so contractors can get approval immediately for any changes to the contract.
- Reporting in the now
Communication is the key to effective collaboration. QA software helps team members create and share readable reports that keep everyone in the loop. Another feature is the ability to attach photos to the right jobs, so documentation of work progress is exact and fully up to date, reducing disputes and expensive do-overs.
You can make everything to do with your project clearer and easier to understand with QA software. You’ll manage expectations as well as progress, and your trade contractors will be less frustrated and more willing to work collaboratively.
Help everyone see the bigger picture
You could try and blame scheduling delays and budget blow-outs on cowboy trade contractors who just want to get the job done quickly and get out. But when poor communication on the project means they only know the extent of their own job, it’s hardly fair to find them at fault. Too often, trade contractors are in competition with other teams, working within resource squeezes and far too much risk – no-one shares trade secrets, or co-operates to accomplish tasks.
A good quality project is difficult to complete under budget without the co-operation of everyone involved, and that means better communication, equality of respect and collaboration. The easiest and most effective way to change the silo culture in your project, and help everyone see the bigger picture, is through technology – the right software can give you all the tools you need to bring your people together and get them talking.
If you missed Part 1 of this post, read it here.