Talk That’s Not Cheap: Construction Project Communication

Tell me you haven’t heard some version of this before:

There’s been some miscommunication (Read: someone f’d up), and it’s causing some delays.”

Or:

“The project got off to a slow start.”

You know when you hear that — because you do hear it— that someone is losing money, and it’s probably not helping their reputation either. Communication breakdowns happen to even the best construction crews.

581-construction-communication

It’s often after money losing jobs like this that construction companies entertain the idea of getting project management software — they’re looking to solve a problem. But usually this process leads to a treating of specific symptoms while ignoring the disease.

It’s hard to get your arms around “communication” as the problem and to try to solve it holistically. It’s easier to identify individual pain points and look to solve them individually. Specific examples include punch list, daily reports or meeting minutes. All things that frequently lead to wasted time and frustration. And they are all logical problems to want to solve, by the way.

So decision makers at construction companies take their particular problem — or list of problems — and try to find a software “solution” to it. Software! Punch list software or a punch list app will get the guys in the field on the same page with you (and with each other). That should be an improvement on the way we’re doing things now. Or maybe there’s a construction app that handles daily reporting, punch list, RFIs, change orders, task management (the whole kit and caboodle). What IS that magical little engine-that-could and can your company afford to get it into the hands of everyone that needs it?

Meanwhile the real problem, the one that’s chasing your team from project to project, goes unsolved: communication. Software companies spring up left and right promising to help you handle punch list or dailies  or issue tracking — but none of them solving the underlying communication problem that’s plaguing your team day in and day out.

At the root of most construction projects are massive communication inefficiencies — within your company and between your company and other companies on the job. Information isn’t exchanged as quickly as it could be, or it isn’t documented and tracked in one place, or someone forgot to document and share a decision made during a conversation. An email got deleted accidentally. (The fact that you and your team are wading through five different forms of communication just to find an answer to a single question in the first place. It’s a wonder anyone gets any building done at all.)

To solve your punch list problem, your manpower tracking problem, your reporting problem — the simplest solution is this: First and foremost, solve your communication problem. The rest will follow.

At FieldLens, we specialize in helping teams of all sizes solve their construction project communication. If we can help, let us know.

Lekan Nicholson is a Customer Success Coach at FieldLens. Before joining the FieldLens team, Lekan worked as a field engineer, assistant engineer and superintendent for Turner Construction Company.

Photo © kjjohnson/Twenty20