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December 04, 2015 Article 2 min read

Man in deep thought at desk 

Collaboration has always been a vital pillar for success in the construction industry. Just as technology permeates other aspects of life, the same is true for construction. The past few years have seen a growing trend in the use of technology collaboration tools. With multiple stakeholders involved on a given project – from the general contractor and subcontractors, to project owners, engineers, and architects – it’s important to have a transparent, and efficient, mode of communication.

Technology collaboration tools, hosted on the cloud, provide greater visibility, accuracy, and efficiency than pen and paper, or even email. With electronic workflows and applications, all information is housed in one place, with one set of data. All project stakeholders know they’re working with the latest information with no questions or concerns on version control. This increased efficiency, seamless collaboration, and transparency can greatly aide in your company’s project execution and eventual profits.

Cloud-based project management applications provide an efficient, collaborative approach to managing RFIs, submittals, meeting minutes, contracts and commitments, budgets, pay applications, change orders, and more. Field data collection applications allow for accuracy and transparency with labor and equipment hours, receipts, and notes and photos from the jobsite on a daily basis. If there’s an issue on a project, it can be quickly identified and remedied.

As we know, the use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) as a collaborative tool has had a strong impact on the industry. By virtualizing the different layers of a construction project, potential problems are identified and mitigated before actual construction begins. Of course, the use of BIM clash detection has already saved the industry countless hours and dollars on the construction site.

While all of these technology tools can greatly aid in collaboration, it’s important to ensure successful implementation. The following are three action items you should consider:

  • Conduct due diligence
    Leverage the knowledge of construction technology experts, talk with peers, and conduct appropriate vendor due diligence before investing the time, money, and resources into new technology. Carefully assess your needs to determine what technology will offer the most value for your organization. In the case of project management tools, not only are there third-party best-in-class solutions available, but ERP vendors are adding this capability. If you’re exploring new applications, consult with your current vendors and ensure third-party applications have compatible interfaces.
  • Manage change proactively
    As with any technology tool, training, discipline, and accountability around the system are key. Before investing in the technology itself, you must be willing to invest the time and money necessary to redesign your processes and ensure that the tools will be properly utilized.
  • Mitigate security risks
    With each new technology comes new risks. You must be prepared to understand and mitigate new risks. If you’re using collaborative tools that other business partners and stakeholders will have access to, pay particular attention to security and the access levels of others. Cloud-based applications that can be accessed from personal devices pose unique cybersecurity threats that must be accounted for in your company’s incident response plans.