When Collaboration Goes Wrong

Poor communication is usually to blame.

Clear communication is the most critical element to the success of team collaboration on construction projects , and yet project stakeholders too often carry out their work in the silos of their specific specializations. Contrary to the assumption that everyone is in the loop, information about the plan may not have been fully or clearly disseminated to all stakeholders. As many have observed, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

Owners and contractors may have very different visions for the duration, scope, and budget for a project if these key elements aren’t presented in detail at the onset of a project. Project teams must lead planning and scheduling meetings that bring all stakeholders into the the room, including the owners.

Here are two concepts that help ensure good communication among diverse stakeholders on projects:

Tools Matter

From the very beginning, any platform used to either share or capture information needs to be user-friendly. We continually see projects derailing due to project leaders using overly complicated platforms that exclude key decision-makers in the room.

A ‘user-friendly’ platform should allow users to quickly absorb and alter the presented information. Is everybody comfortable with the chosen platform? If the existing platform doesn’t fit the bill, the struggle of getting everyone to adopt a new technology can be a detriment to the timeline. Planning ahead and allowing everyone to see the benefits of a new tool makes for easier adoption.

Say more with less

Choose a tool that is able to distill a mountain of project detail into a clear, concise summary.

Project schedules can produce thousands of activities, and excess information can overwhelm the most critical elements. It’s important that the project schedule be condensed to the most important points that enable everyone to make informed decisions. The summary clearly present the core pieces and major touch-points of the project.

When we have a greater understanding of how we’re going to communicate from the start, we can be comprehensive and inclusive. Unfortunately, teams sometimes rely on platforms that are optimal for scheduling but not for communication. With just these two small changes in approach, project teams can benefit greatly.

Learn more about PMA’s project risk management

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