The construction industry has a major productivity problem. A recent McKinsey study found that construction productivity has only increased 1% a year over the past 20 years. Consequently, poor productivity performance correlates to poor project management and execution.
So, if poor productivity leads to poor project management, what causes poor project management? A study by the Project Management Institute concluded that poor communications is the primary contributor to project failure one third of the time. Additionally, ineffective communications negatively impacts project success more than half the time. By this logic, one can reasonably conclude that if we can improve communications, then we can increase construction productivity.
Before we can look at how to improve construction communication, let us explore the types of communications that exist in construction.
- Written communications
- – Contracts
- – Daily Reports
- – Letters and Emails
- – Schedule
- – Invoices and Pay Applications
- – Specifications
- – Documentation: Request for Information, Purchase Orders, Submittals, Transmittals, Change Orders
- Visual communications
- – Design drawings and models
- – Production drawings
- – Photographs
- – Videos
- Verbal communications
- – Telephone calls
- – Face-to-face meetings
Miscommunication in Construction
All the different types of communications that surrounds a large construction project create multiple points of failure in project management. Working off the wrong sets of drawings results in expensive rework. Delayed answers to RFIs or lost RFIs can negatively affect your schedule. Without signed Change orders, there is danger that your firm will not receive payment. Not only does miscommunication negatively affects construction productivity, it can also jeopardize safety and result in legal ramifications.
Because of that, documentation control is critical. File cabinets filled with paperwork and wall racks of blueprints clutter construction trailers and offices. But how can you ensure that the paperwork in the office syncs to the field team?
As paperwork becomes digitized, project teams become more efficient. The documentation can be sent electronically via email to reduce drive time from the jobsite to the office. Team members can also store documents in a cloud-based location for access from any location. While these are great strides for managing documents and drawings, how can we account for emails and verbal communications?
Overcoming Miscommunication with a Centralized Communication Hub
Cloud storage solutions serve a valuable purpose in creating a central repository to manage documentation on a project. But eSUB takes document management to another level by creating a centralized communication hub. eSUB manages more than just written communications. It tracks status of written documents as well as manages visual and verbal communications by project in a single central database that is fully searchable. As you can see, with easy access to information from any location, construction productivity increases dramatically.
Centralized Repository – How many times have your wondered where a document is stored? With a centralized, cloud-based repository, there is no longer a need to wonder whose hard drive, inbox, or smartphone something might be stored on. The eSUB database stores and indexes all project data so everyone knows exactly where to find something and be able to access it from any location.
Documentation Tracking – Not only will everyone know where to find important documents, everyone will know the status. Creating and sending documents through eSUB provides the opportunity to track the status as well. Especially relevant is the ability to view a list of pending documents (RFIs, Submittals, and Change Orders) that are past due and the number of days late. This will help ensure that project team members from the Subcontractor, General Contractor or Owner follow up on documentation in a timely manner to keep project schedules on track.
Email Integration – Let’s face it. No one likes receiving those “reply all” emails. eSUB provides a way to get information out of your inbox and stored with the rest of your project documentation. Email integration captures all email correspondence between any of your employees and any of your General Contractors. eSUB stores the emails by project in a secure database that is fully searchable.
Meeting Minutes – While many project management solutions are great for documentation control, eSUB enforces best practices by providing a means to document face-to-face meetings. The Meeting Minutes modules allows clients to detail site meetings, internal meeting, safety meetings and more. This provides accountability when tasks are assigned and documentation to ensure processes are being met accordingly.
Correspondence Management – Drawing on our history of helping subcontractors avoid claims, eSUB has developed a toolbox with over 50 legally advised templates regarding delays and disruptions, change directives, outstanding document (RFIs, COR, Submittal) reminders and more. “The Confirmation of Conversation template confirms the conversation and releases use from any liability from the owner,” says Chris Sweeney, Project Manager with Rowan Electric.
Drawings – Drawings are at the center of construction. You do not know what to build without them. eSUB provides drawing management that allows project teams to track revisions and issue the most recent version to ensure that crews are working off the most up-to-date plans. Additionally, eSUB also integrates with Autodesk BIM 360 and PlanGrid for customers that utilize those solutions for their drawing needs.
In conclusion, eSUB is a critical part of a project’s communication strategy. By creating a centralized communications hub through eSUB, your project team’s productivity is increased by ensuring that nothing slips through the cracks to deliver project according to schedule and budget. According to Dan Tagliaferri, Project Manager for Above All Store Fronts, “It [eSUB] makes life ten times easier and gives you the ability to take on more profitable work. The organization structure within eSUB has saved thousands of dollars in just time alone where we know where our information is at all times.” As a result, subcontractors using eSUB develop a reputation of strong project delivery and professionalism that helps them win more business.