by Norman Wendl
December 1, 2011

New capabilities provide a centralized online solution for all team members.

The success of a construction project is directly related to meeting or exceeding the client’s expectations for the budget, schedule and quality of construction.

From the initial project bidding process through closeout, all project team members (the client, consultants, contractor, subcontractors and suppliers) have many tasks that they must communicate, perform and document. Even modest construction projects produce high volumes of information. Communicating crucial information in the right form and to the correct person within the appropriate time period is imperative to delivering a successful construction project.

Today, the construction process has become increasingly collaborative with the owner, architect, engineers, general contractor and subcontractors all working together early in the design process and continuing participation throughout construction.

As the Integrated Project Delivery (IPD) method and other collaborative delivery methods become more popular in the U.S. and globally, we need to remain a step ahead by using a centralized, shared, online collaboration solution that can distribute project information quickly, accurately and efficiently while also creating a database that can be accessed as needed and reused on future projects.

Integrated Technology

Some construction software providers now provide additional features within their estimating, project management, job cost control and scheduling software. These new features provide the software subscribers with a collaborative team environment by giving their outside project team members free access to view and respond to project documentation and correspondence.

With this web-based software, you can efficiently manage entire projects and have complete visibility anytime, anywhere. You simply need access to the Internet. Also, some software providers offer a free mobile solution (for tablet and smartphone devices) if you use their software. This application gives field staff and management even greater access to crucial information.

How It Works

To give your external team members free access, you simply create unique logins for them. For instance, if you have five active projects/clients and work with 30 to 40 vendors, logins could be sent to each client and vendor. Then, access permissions can be set so that clients, consultants, subcontractors and suppliers can view, respond and contribute their respective information.

The team members would be invited through a program-generated email containing a link and password at the start of the project.

Once logged in, the team members can find corporate announcements and any items that require their action. They can easily navigate to their projects and have access to relevant information such as documentation, correspondence, schedules, photos and financials.

Separate owner and vendor dashboards can be customized with the appropriate information for the correct individual. As a system administrator, you can be notified when changes have been made to any documents and can automatically send email alerts to project collaborators notifying them of items that need their attention.

The Value

Using software that gives external team members the ability to collaborate on project information without having to purchase their own subscriptions can provide many benefits to your company.

Team members can access project information and provide immediate responses for important design and construction documents, such as RFPs, RFIs, submittals, change orders, progress invoices, schedules and photos. At project completion, final project documentation, such as punch lists, as-built drawings and product manuals, can be downloaded by the building owner, further extending the benefits of this technology throughout the life of the facility.

The improvement in communication itself provides numerous tangible and intangible savings—reducing copying, printing, delivery, storage, telephone, travel and meeting costs.

Other benefits include the time saved throughout all phases of construction and fewer claims of incorrect or dated information. This will lead to improved quality since information can be reused. With immediate access to relevant project information, team members will have a better understanding of the design and will make fewer mistakes.

As the volatile economic climate continues to provide business challenges in the construction industry, taking advantage of technological advancements is more necessary than ever. Those construction business owners who leverage innovative technology and work together as a collaborative team to squeeze more value out of every dollar will be the ones that not only survive but thrive.

 

Construction Business Owner, November 2011