construction administration - how to optimize communication and collaboration

Research by Construction Navigant and PlanGrid show that, 9% of a project’s combined cost stems from rework, with 52% of that rework being attributed to miscommunication and poor project data. Additionally, nearly 35% of project time is lost due to ineffective activities, resulting in $280 billion in annual rework expenses. For these reasons, streamlining communication and collaboration is relevant in construction administration (CA).

Overview of Construction Administration

Construction administration, also known as construction contract administration, is a crucial phase that occurs from pre-construction through to construction and inspection. Its primary objective is to ensure the final product adheres to the plans and regulations stipulated in the contract. During this stage, the architect assumes a central role, managing submittal packages, change orders, building code compliance, subcontractor oversight, and more.

Beyond safeguarding the architect’s design intent, CA ensures the project aligns with the agreed-upon contract. Architects involved in CA meticulously review submittal packages and inspection reports to verify that materials and construction methods comply with the plans. They act as a go-between for the owner and contractor, managing costs and ensuring the project stays within schedule and budget. Ultimately, CA ensures the project is built to the high-quality standards outlined in the client-signed contract. 

While construction administration plays a crucial role in ensuring project success, fostering clear communication and collaboration throughout the process can be daunting — particularly during the pre-construction review of submittals and drawings. These challenges include task tracking, lack of visibility, stakeholder coordination, etc.

It’s noteworthy that miscommunication between project managers, field workers, and other stakeholders can snowball into costly mistakes, quality issues, conflicts, lost profits, project delays, and reputational damage.  Without a central repository for clear and consistent documentation, misunderstandings can easily arise, further straining communication and hindering project progress.

Consequently, these implications underscore the need for optimized communication and collaboration in construction administration. This guide provides the information and tools you need to streamline the process and ensure desired outcomes.

Benefits of Optimized Communication and Collaboration in Construction Administration

Reduced Rework and Errors

Clear communication ensures everyone involved understands the design intent from the outset. This minimizes misunderstandings and missed details, leading to fewer errors and a significant reduction in costly rework.

Imagine a project where architects clearly communicate specifications for window placements. When this occurs and contractors are fully informed, they can avoid installing windows incorrectly, saving time and money on rectifying the mistake.

About the data in PlanGrid’s Construction Disconnected report which stated that “globally, an average of 52% (representing a cost of $280 Billion) of rework is caused by miscommunication and poor project data”, the Editorial Team at Matterport asserted that “If your team is able to quickly communicate any project updates, whether with field teams or design teams, it’s less likely bad data or miscommunications will hinder your progress”.

Streamlined Processes and Faster Decision-Making

Not only does effective communication reduce rework and delays. It allows for quicker decision-making, keeping the project on track and avoiding costly budget and schedule overruns.

This is because when information flows smoothly, project reviews become faster and more efficient. Owing to this, delays caused by waiting for clarification or chasing down missing details are minimized.

Improved Project Delivery and Adherence to Deadlines

Clear communication and collaboration empower all stakeholders to work together seamlessly. This synchronized workflow ensures everyone involved has the latest information and can contribute effectively. When the project progresses smoothly, it minimizes delays and ensures timely delivery within the established deadlines.

Reduces Risks

When clear communication is prioritized, critical safety information is readily shared and understood by all parties.  This proactive approach reduces the risk of accidents and costly safety violations. Additionally, timely communication of design changes or potential issues allows for prompt risk mitigation strategies, minimizing the chance of problems snowballing into major setbacks.

Builds Trust

Open communication fosters trust and transparency among project stakeholders.  Team members feel comfortable raising concerns, sharing ideas, and working together to solve problems. This collaborative environment strengthens relationships and promotes a sense of shared purpose, ultimately leading to a more successful project outcome.

Apart from building trust among architects, engineers, and contractors, effective communication and collaboration also strengthens the relation between the team and clients. And you know, happy clients would always be happy to return or refer you.

6 Communication and Collaboration Challenges in CA

1. Lack of Clear Communication Protocols: Without established guidelines for information sharing, crucial details can easily be lost or misinterpreted. This can lead to costly mistakes during project execution.

2. Difficulty Centralizing and Tracking Project Documents: Juggling many documents like submittals, RFIs, and drawings across various stakeholders is daunting. This decentralized approach can lead to lost or misplaced documents, hindering project progress.

3. Inefficient Communication Channels: Reliance on outdated communication methods like phone calls and emails can lead to delays and misunderstandings. These methods often lack a clear audit trail, making it difficult to track conversations and decisions.

4. Limited Real-Time Collaboration During Pre-construction: Inefficient processes for sharing and revising blueprints, designs, and other project documents during pre-construction can lead to costly rework later. It’s worth noting that communication and collaboration aren’t always about the tools you use but also about the processes and workflows you set up to ensure real-time collaboration.

5. Difficulty Maintaining Transparency and Accountability: Holding all stakeholders accountable can be challenging with information scattered across different locations and communication channels. And a lack of transparency can breed mistrust and hinder problem-solving efforts.

6. Manual Processes and Technological Gaps: Firms that rely on paper-based processes for document management and communication are prone to errors and inefficiencies. These manual methods are time-consuming and tedious and limit real-time collaboration.

7. Coordinating Multiple Stakeholders with Different Technological Proficiencies: Construction projects involve a diverse group of stakeholders with varying levels of tech-savviness. For instance, clients may not have the same access or understanding of advanced technology as your team. This disparity can create communication barriers and hinder information sharing.

8. Scheduling Challenges: Assigning tasks and creating realistic project schedules can be difficult due to unforeseen delays and changes. Additionally, traditional methods often lack the nimbleness to adapt to these unforeseen circumstances.

How to Optimize Communication and Collaboration in Construction Administration

Establish Clear Communication Protocols

The foundation for effective communication lies in establishing clear protocols. This includes defining communication frequency, channels (e.g., daily reports, weekly meetings), and platforms (like Microsoft Teams, email, collaboration tools like zipBoard, etc) for different types of information.

When you outline a clear process for submittal review, including deadlines for responses and revisions, it ensures timely feedback and keeps the project moving forward.

To keep things organized, create a communication plan and include all your protocols in that document. This is because “Sharing information clearly and consistently requires a plan. Without it, things become messy and stakeholders can become confused and unhappy”. (Project Manager)

It’s worth noting that this plan and protocols can be established at various levels within your firm, including relevant stakeholders, such as different departments or teams. For example, for project-level communication plans, the architecture project manager takes the lead, while HR spearheads organizational-level plans.

Use Technology

Investing in modern technology can give you a single source of truth for all documents and project information. This will help streamline construction administration and keep designers, contractors, owners, and clients on the same page throughout the project. More so, using technology can help streamline your workflow and improve efficiency.

Some key tools to invest in include project management software (Procore and Project Manager), document management systems, project information management software (Newforma and Tonic DM), communication platforms (Microsoft Teams, Slack), and construction collaboration tools like zipBoard and Autodesk Docs.

It’s worth noting that…

It’s a little bit about the technology and a little bit about how structured the workflows are presented. – Vivin Hedge, GP and founding partner of Zacua Ventures, in the Bricks and Bytes Podcast

Foster a Collaborative Culture

Building a strong foundation for communication and collaboration in construction administration goes beyond just technology. Fostering a collaborative culture is key to successful communication and collaboration. This requires encouraging open communication and active listening within the project team – through the appropriate channels and platforms.

When team members feel comfortable voicing concerns and asking questions without judgment, and actively listen to ensure everyone feels heard and understood, trust is built and issues can be identified and resolved early on.

Build a Collaborative Mindset

Shifting towards a collaborative mindset is a crucial step in overcoming communication barriers during CA. As Vivin Hedge, GP and founding partner of Zacua Ventures, stated in the Bricks and Bytes Podcast, a lack of trust in the system can hinder collaboration. Hence, breaking down barriers, which ensure transparency, can improve collaboration within the team and build trust.

How to Streamline Communication and Collaboration In Construction Administration with zipBoard

Optimizing communication and collaboration throughout construction administration is essential for project success. Traditional methods, like email and paper trails, can be cumbersome and lead to information silos. zipBoard, a document management and collaboration platform for AEC teams, addresses these challenges by offering a centralized hub for seamless communication and collaboration throughout all stages of CA.

Here’s a closer look at how zipBoard streamlines communication and collaboration within key functions of construction administration:

zipBoard’s project dashboard provides a clear overview of all submittal packages, allowing architects or any stakeholder serving as a construction administrator to track construction documents and manage project status.

Streamline Submittal Management and Review - Construction Administration
Projects Dashboard in zipBoard

The good thing is that contractors do not need to manually upload submittals in the app. Through zipBoard’s API integrations, you can seamlessly integrate zipBoard with your cloud store or document management system and collaborate on drawings and submittals with ease – without having to move documents from one place to another. This also helps save time.

Additionally, zipBoard’s PDF markup tools enable architects to provide clear and concise feedback directly on drawings or specifications. They can highlight areas requiring attention, add comments, and tag specific individuals for their input.

More so the phases feature in zipBoard acts as a version control system that ensures everyone is working with the latest version. These phases enable you to create customizable workflows in Kanban view for your approval process. This gives every stakeholder a clearer view of document progress, ensures they move smoothly from one stage to another, and keeps everyone on the same page, thereby minimizing errors.

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Real-Time Communication and Collaboration

Being a cloud-based collaboration software, zipBoard allows for seamless real-time document collaboration among all project stakeholders, regardless of location. Architects, engineers, contractors, and even clients can access and update project documents simultaneously, eliminating delays and version control issues. The best part? There is no per-user licensing with zipBoard so you can bring unlimited stakeholders on board! Learn more here.

Ensure real-time communication and collaboration in construction administration with zipBoard
Invite project stakeholders to collaborate in one place - zipBoard

Also, because zipBoard seamlessly integrates with your existing Document Management System (DMS) or cloud storage, you don’t have to juggle multiple tools or give feedback in different places. This eliminates the risk of project information getting lost or not being seen by stakeholders promptly.

Furthermore, the notifications, messaging, and announcement features in zipBoard facilitate instant communication and ensure all relevant parties are notified for real-time discussions on projects.

Enhanced Transparency with Document Tracking and Version Control

By integrating with your cloud store or DMS, zipBoard provides a central repository for all project documents, drawings, and specifications. This eliminates the need to search through emails or physical folders, saving time and ensuring everyone has access to the latest information.

construction administration - phases in zipBoard to organize your workflow
Phases in zipBoard to create customizable workflows

Additionally, setting up a workflow in zipBoard using phases ensures everyone has access to the latest information, eliminating confusion caused by outdated information. Again, construction administrators using zipBoard have access to multiple project views, including Kanban boards and tables, which allow them to visualize project progress and identify potential issues with ease.

Streamlined Task Management

The built-in task manager in zipBoard enables construction administrators and stakeholders to manage their entire task list in one place. No need to juggle multiple tools or spreadsheets.

optimize construction administration with zipBoard
Task Manager in zipBoard

With zipBoard, you can assign tasks, set deadlines, track progress, and even import your existing task list or export what you create in zipBoaed for further customization.  This centralized approach promotes accountability, streamlines workflows, and keeps the project moving forward efficiently.

One good thing about zipBoard’s task management system is that annotations and markups collaborators make on documents are automatically converted into tasks and added to the task manager. This helps automate some tasks in your submittal workflow and improves efficiency.

And when it comes to enhancing construction document control, zipBoard makes this easier and seamless by allowing you to organize projects, documents, and tasks using tags. When this is done, you can easily find project information using filters!

Add tags to files in zipBoard

Data-driven Decision-Making with Performance Analysis and Automated Reporting

zipBoard automates report generation, saving architects (read construction administrators) time and ensuring consistent project updates. Stakeholders can receive customizable reports tailored to their needs, keeping everyone informed on project progress and potential issues.

zipBoard’s real-time report dashboards provide a high-level overview of all projects at an organizational level or for specific projects within the organization. This allows CAs to quickly assess project status and make informed decisions.

document approval workflow - Auto Generated project reports in zipBoard

Finally, in the report dashboard, you can view reports for projects, files, collaborators, tasks, comments, and screens. And for each report (displayed in a line graph or bar chart), you have access to issue summaries, status, priority, type, assignees, tags, and stakeholders who report those issues or give feedback. This data enables you to track projects and ensure you’re moving according to schedule.

Want to see this in action? Schedule a demo and we’ll give you a personalized walkthrough.

Streamline Communication & Collaboration in Construction Administration with zipBoard

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Sources

  1. The Impact of Rework on Construction & Some Practical Remedies by Navigant Construction
  2. Construction Disconnected by PlanGrid
  3. VC’s Perspective on How Technology Can Streamline Design Coordination in Construction Projects by Bricks and Bytes

Author’s bio:

Dorcas Kpabitey is a Content Marketing Specialist at zipBoard. She began her content marketing journey alongside her BA in Political Science and Spanish at the University of Ghana. If she is not tapping away at her keyboard or spending time on Twitter and LinkedIn, she spends her day reading articles, newsletters and books.

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