In the AEC industry, the concept of collaboration is often associated with Building Information Modeling (BIM). This isn’t surprising. Over the years BIM has increasingly been adopted as an effective collaborative software tool for the design phase. BIM allows owners, architects, engineers, and contractors to work together on creating a virtual building long before shovel hits dirt. The beauty of BIM is its ability to help the team identify constructability issues, perform clash detection, and ultimately design better buildings.
But collaboration doesn’t end with BIM and the design phase.
Cross-discipline communication and cooperation is just as important during the invitation to bid and construction phases of a project. After all, this is when stakeholders in the project multiply as numerous subcontractors and vendors enter the picture. Unfortunately, it is at this point where collaboration is many times at its weakest. It’s not uncommon for team members to find themselves operating on outdated information that tells only a fraction of the story. This can eat up profit margins and wreak havoc on project schedules.
With true project collaboration, all stakeholders operate off of one common and current project plan. Everyone understands the goals of the project and takes responsibility for their role in the project’s success. And the GC or construction manager has a clear oversight picture of where everything stands, down to the nitty gritty of RFI and submittal status.
In the past, the sheer volume of information involved in a project made it difficult to achieve collaboration. Some project owners or GCs would set up web portals to share documents, but these solutions—while useful—didn’t provide the same level of interaction today’s cloud-based project collaboration solutions can provide.
What’s possible today?
Cloud technology is ideal for enabling collaboration, especially in businesses like construction where the majority of work—and decision making—occurs in the field. The cloud allows individuals to tap into online project applications anytime and anywhere to securely share information and collaborate. General contractors and construction managers serious about collaboration are using this technology to:
- Improve the bid process.
- Make sure everyone is in sync once the project starts.
- Facilitate an accountable team.
- Gain faster approvals.
- Focus on project results, not administrative duties.
- Collect and secure all project data.
- Please project owners.
Today’s construction environment is fast-paced and document intensive. Collaboration allows everyone on the project team to be more productive, organized, and better positioned to keep the project on time, on budget, and profitable.