by Dexter Bachelder
December 1, 2011

Reduce construction risks with online project collaboration software.

Since today’s low margins do not leave much room for error, it is crucial to minimize financial and legal risks to ensure a healthy return on large-scale construction projects. One of the most effective ways to do this is through an information management strategy that reduces errors, cost overruns and schedule delays and supports efforts to comply with all legal and regulatory requirements.

The Risk

Every large-scale construction project struggles with having too much information that flows among too many stakeholders, which frequently results in lost information, slow response times, errors, rework and disputes. Consider these facts:

An average $200 million infrastructure construction project can produce more than 800,000 documents and correspondences over a two-year span. This amount grows exponentially with the addition of new firms on the project.

Project teams have become increasingly scattered around the globe, making communication and collaboration among companies more complex and expensive.

Regulatory environments have become complex and vary by funding source and region.

Major project stakeholders typically have their own document management system and processes, making coordination difficult. The combination of mismanagement and disparate systems results in lost documents, disputes over document versions and an inability to track communications related to document distribution.

The inability to quickly and confidently locate the most recent version of documents hinders critical tasks, such as reviewing drawings, responding to project changes, detecting errors and responding quickly to RFIs.

Email and FTP sites that support collaboration for small projects will not work for large, multi-party projects. Email data stores reside behind each participant’s firewall, creating silos of information. FTP sites, which are too slow for today’s high-resolution files, can cause version control problems, and the absence of an audit trail leaves participants susceptible to numerous conflicts, potential lawsuits and regulatory violations.

Online Project Collaboration

An online project collaboration solution creates a neutral platform that allows all project documents and communications to be centralized, managed, audited and protected. Approved users from any stakeholder in any location can access all appropriate information at any time.

The centralized location provides immediate access to the latest documents—including data, RFIs, approvals, drawings and tenders—and tracks the status of document reviews and approvals in real time. The system also tracks all emails among participants, creating a complete audit trail of communication.

With centralized, real-time access to the latest document versions, a complete audit trail and accelerated workflows, a neutral, online project collaboration platform directly addresses the key risks associated with managing too much information.

The platform can be delivered using a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model. The SaaS model allows all participants to integrate the solution with their own document and project management systems, enabling collaboration without forcing participants to change their systems or processes. A SaaS solution typically comes with a flat, predictable pricing model that can be assumed by a single organization or shared among multiple participants.

The Bottom Line

Along with reducing risk, an online project collaboration platform can help contractors uncover opportunities for an additional return by reducing costs, boosting productivity and increasing agility. Contractors can also look forward to time and hard-cost savings related to printing, travel, shipping and storage.

The demanding operating and regulatory environment of large-scale construction projects threatens the bottom line and reputation of many companies. Online project collaboration platforms offer a cost-effective solution for improving communication at every step in the project lifecycle.

 

Construction Business Owner, November 2011