I started writing this summer about the common threads for those contractors who are highly successful, as opposed to those who are just barely making it, or in some instances, are no longer around, and have put them into a top (or bottom, depending how you look at it) 10 list. Number 10 was Poor Project start (https://cssworks.com/terriblemistakes10). We moved on to No 9 – Documented Processes, a.k.a. semi-organized chaos (https://cssworks.com/terriblemistake9). So, now we move on to…
Terrible Mistake #8 : Poor Project Communication
The impact of poor project communication is inaccurate or missing information, lack of timely information for decision making, and wasted resources from duplicated efforts. Invariably, there will end up being two sets of data – one used in the field, the other in the office. Inevitably, this means more time while each party tries to figure out which set of data is correct.
How to Prevent Making This Mistake
The technology does not exist to make sure that everyone communicates correctly and promptly in all cases. But if we can speed up and simplify some of the basics, it will leave more time available to deal with the exceptions. Some communication areas that can be automated and simplified include:
- Scheduling – both job and service work orders
- Time entry
- Work completed – often in the form of a daily log or daily report that documents not only work completed but other key events like change orders, customer or inspection feedback, safety events, etc.
- Documents and more importantly, document changes
There are many tools available to improve these functions. None of them is going to be the perfect solution for your unique situation, but there are some areas to consider while doing your search:
- Ease of use – number of clicks, ease of navigation
- Integration – does the data flow back to your office, or require re-entry?
- Platform – laptop, tablet, smart phone. Other devices required?
- Cost – one time purchase, monthly subscriptions, user count
We’re believers in looking at Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Sometimes the up-front cost can be misleading, or the cost is only stated in per user/per month terms, or there are extra features that can drive up the final ultimate cost. Be on the look-out for hidden costs — we can help you with those calculations.
One of the biggest impediments to improving communication is getting the right communication tools. More and more companies are progressing to use smart phones and tablets in the field, especially as internet connectivity is almost always available. Make sure whatever tool you’re using to improve your project communication works seamlessly on them.
I often hear from the office team that the field team can’t or won’t use technology, yet I guarantee that most of them have a smart phone and find time to login to Facebook or any number of other apps. The real issue is resistance to change. As with any new initiative, management support is imperative.