Why Engineers and delivery teams love using Aphex to build and manage short-term schedules.
Effectively communicating plans in construction
A lack of communication in the construction industry
Let’s start by looking at the problem. Most large construction projects have varying layers of plans in place.
If things are managed well, then your project will be working from a Master Schedule, and some form of short-term schedule or look-ahead plan.
But historically speaking, even projects that have plans in place often maintain them using separate pieces of software, with teams managing their individual plans separately.
With an approach like this, it’s easy to see how communication can quickly break down before the plans ever hit the site. And it’s even easier to see how difficult it could be to make sure those plans are effectively communicated with the teams responsible for delivering work.
That being said. Taking a carefully planned approach and using the right set of tools will allow you to ensure that your plans are effectively communicated to everyone on site.
Why plans aren’t effectively communicated in construction
Truth be told, there are a number of different reasons your plans aren’t properly making their way to the people that need them. To name a few: The wrong communications methods, a lack of organisation, or a simple misunderstanding of priorities can all lead to confusion, errors, and costly delays on the project timeline.
When those plans aren’t communicated properly, it’s impossible for the teams on site to know what work needs doing, in what order, and by when. And that lack of direction can lead to:
- Poor teamwork
- Further delays.
If you don’t get on top of the problem, things can quickly spiral out of control.
The benefits of properly communicating your plans
In stark contrast, properly communicating your plans can help ensure that the entire team and all of your stakeholders are on the same page and working together. Your short-term plans provide a roadmap for daily operations, and they help to coordinate tasks, allocate resources, and manage timelines. By making sure everyone understands the plans and knows what they need to do, you can help improve efficiency, reduce errors, and make sure you meet your goals.
Popular methods of communication on a construction site
In order to make sure that your plans are effectively communicated, you need the different ways you can distribute information.
You’ll often see daily huddles in place on a number of construction sites. They’re a quick and easy way to meet with team members and gather information relating to any active tasks and blockers or collect data for key metrics like PPC.
If you’ve ever been on a site where the project is practising lean management, then you’ll already be familiar with the practice routine of daily huddles.
Whiteboards are commonly used as communication tools in construction, and you’ll often find them littered with sticky notes detailing upcoming tasks and key dates.
More recently, we’ve seen the introduction of interactive smart boards (like the ones from Mission Room) start to replace traditional whiteboards. If you don’t have the budget, then the classic whiteboard is still a valid tool.
Email and WhatsApp
These shouldn’t need much explaining. Dedicated email chains and WhatsApp groups are low-cost, easy-to-use ways of communicating with team members.
Dashboards, slide decks and printouts are all effective ways of sharing reports and critical information that you’re team needs access to. The real problem with these is making sure everyone has easy access, but with the right supporting tools and processes in place, that shouldn’t be an issue.
There are a number of site-friendly mobile apps in the construction industry that can help you distribute relevant information (such as daily tasks) to the teams on site.
Tools like Aphex, ProCore, and FieldWire all have site-friendly apps that help you get the right information to the people carrying out work on the project.
How to improve communication on your project
Now you’ve got a solid understanding of why communication breaks down and which tools you have at your disposal, let’s look at some of the practical ways you can improve communication on your project.
Develop a communication plan
First things first, you need a communication plan. Work with project managers and other stakeholders to establish a clear plan for communication.
Think about the frequency, format, and channels for communication, as well as the responsibilities and expectations of each stakeholder.
Use clear and simple language
As an engineer, you’re a technical wizard. It’s often easy to get caught up using technical language. But when you’re communicating your plans, it’s important to be considerate of stakeholders, and team members, whose technical grasp might not be to the same standard as yours.
Using simple language helps make sure everyone completely understands what you’re saying.
Establish clear lines of communication
Ensure that everyone knows who to contact for specific issues or questions, and establish a clear hierarchy of communication for resolving disputes or escalating problems. This ensures that issues are dealt with promptly and efficiently.
Provide regular updates
Communication goes both ways. And it can help to be proactive about making sure project managers and other team members get updated on the progress of the project. Reports, presentations, and informal updates can help to make sure the wider tea understands the work they need to do and how they fit into the larger plans.
To work effectively as a team, you need other stakeholders to feel comfortable raising concerns and questions. Paying close attention to those concerns and taking on other people’s ideas can also help lead to a more cohesive team.
A picture speaks a thousand words. Use visuals, diagrams, and site maps to illustrate plans and ideas. This can help to simplify complex information and make it easier to understand.
Use the right tools and software
Last but not least, make sure you’re using the right software to build, manage and distribute your plans. You can build short-term plans and Gantt charts with things like Excel. But doing so soon becomes difficult to manage at scale, and you’ll often wind up with more communications issues.
Using software that's been built for construction scheduling makes it easy for you to build and manage your plans.