Last week, I discussed three important areas of project management and ended by briefly discussing project communication—or the glue to a project. Hopefully, you’ve had the chance to consider how deliberate your project communications are. As I mentioned before, communication often occurs by accident—it just happens. But like everything in business, if you’re just letting things happen, you’re probably missing an opportunity to better your business.
We’ve talked about project collaboration, and I don’t think anyone will disagree that it needs to happen. But we need an approach to collaboration. Contractors need to proactively evaluate and address how project teams - including subs and vendors - are communicating.
Evaluating the Approach and Process to Project Communication
I encourage everyone, no matter what your approach is to communication, to periodically evaluate the way internal and external communications happen. Consider these three vital areas:
- Construction Project Documents: How do you move documents through your organization? When documents are created or modified, are the appropriate people notified? Documents are in some ways the lifeline of a project, so if they’re not moving efficiently, chances are your project work isn't progressing as efficiently as it could.
- Project Team Members: Whether they work in the field, are in the office, or outside of your company, everyone who touches a project is part of your team. So making sure everyone on your team has the information they need should be a priority. Take a look at how information is shared internally and externally. Does everyone who needs project information have easy access to it? Does the project manager share information with all the players involved? How do you make information available to the team members outside of your company?
- Project Communication Tools: In order to have an effective process and approach to project communication, you need the right set of tools. Because documentation is so vital to all phases of construction, these tools should include a platform to make documents available to everyone on your team.
There are a number of software packages out there that allow document sharing. But given the size, complexity, and dynamic nature of construction documents, more contractors are turning to document sharing platforms that provide more than just a repository—turning platforms that provide features such as version control, alerting, change and issue management, and more. This is worth a blog topic of its own, so stay tuned for my next post in which I'll share some thoughts on the intersection of document communication and project management.