A good project manager knows communication is key to delivering a job on time and within budget. When team members can’t easily obtain project data, the result is often wasted time as they track down that information or, worse, duplicate efforts. Meanwhile, profit-eating costs mount and schedule overruns can occur.
Many top-level construction companies are equipping their project teams with the latest Web-based technology — specifically cloud-based solutions and mobile apps — to ensure all parties have ready access to the data needed to complete work.
Here are some common communication roadblocks to successful project management:
Team members don’t have on-demand access to job data. In-house software and document-management systems located on office servers are often difficult to connect to and use by both external team members (such as project owners, architects and subcontractors) and internal team members working in the field.
Worse yet, construction businesses still relying on pencil-and-paper methods and printed documents run the risk of misplacing or losing hard copies — or not getting project updates relayed to applicable parties in a timely manner.
Cross-functional team collaboration is difficult. Sharing information across departments, disciplines or locations can be challenging. Face-to-face meetings aren’t always possible, and spreadsheets and other static documents may not be updated until the end of the workday. Internal file-management systems, which are difficult to share with other entities, can turn into information silos. With the big picture lost, each entity has access to only one part of the project’s story, and a multitude of redundancies or errors may occur.
There are too many emails. As you well know, every project brings with it an influx of documents — plans and drawings, requests for information, submittals, change orders and more. Email is a good communication method in some instances, but these items can easily clog inboxes and overwhelm recipients.
Participants are using too many different tools to manage the project. Disparate software and communication tools that may not interface well with one another can lead to lost information, wasted time and misunderstandings.
There’s inadequate transparency. When one party doesn’t know what the others are doing, things can go awry. This can lead to duplication of work, project delays and costly safety hazards.
If your jobs are experiencing any of these problems, it may be time to consider moving to a cloud-based project management system. By eliminating the need for in-house document storage, one of these solutions can provide a broad set of users with one shared, online workspace with many points of access — so they can keep current on the most up-to-date project documentation and deliverables.
Team members equipped with mobile devices can access, update and immediately share project information in real time, anytime, no matter where they’re located. Online meetings can be held, and tasks and deadlines can be assigned to team members within the application. Everybody stays in the loop as to what’s been completed, what’s in progress, what’s still needed and who’s responsible for those tasks.
Naturally, there’s going to be an upfront cost to buy and implement the right system. You’ll also probably face some adjustment issues as everyone buys in. But if inefficient project management is keeping your company from reaching its next level of success, the answer may lie in the cloud.