There has been much ‘debate’ about the continued need for change, for transformation of the construction industry and property sector to become more productive, as well as the need to improve collaboration and communication between its stakeholders. There is a need to understand not only how procurement routes and higher levels of BIM maturity but also the use of mobile digital solutions can improve collaboration and communication and lead to greater productivity.
Increasingly advanced ways are being promoted to capitalise on data emanating from the built environment and new ways to harness and harvest, collaborate and communicate it promised. By the second we are informed on the multiple benefits of technological progress: the internet of things (IoT), drones, machine-learning, robotics, 3D printing, blockchain, AI, automation, predictive analytics and so on. These are all interesting and significant innovations, but in the background some real issues remain.
Following our previous article, “Get digital, Get Mobile. Get Productive – to improve sustainability and wellbeing”, here we consider how collaboration and communication can also be improved through digitisation and mobilisation to increase productivity.
Collaboration and communication questions arise
- What can we easily and efficiently do to improve collaboration and communication?
- Are tangible stakeholder collaboration and communication improvements out of our reach?
- Surely consideration of every collaboration and communication method counts on the journey to achieving streamlined stakeholder management processes
- Should easily understandable steps be taken day-by-day by as many as possible to improve team collaboration and team communication?
To able to answer these questions, we recognise there is a need, first and foremost, to learn from beyond the construction and property sector, from society and citizens themselves.
- In human terms this means learning from the evolution of society itself. It means we should encourage greater cultural exchange, awareness and understanding on our journey to increased productivity.
- In technological terms this means learning from progress of society as a whole and we should master the art of digitisation and mobilisation to be not only able to reap productivity benefits but also to improve collaboration and communication.
Digitisation and mobilisation of construction & property management processes
Digitisation involves collaboration. It’s the key requirement towards participating and engaging meaningfully with the construction and property sector, and when coupled with storage capability directly facilitates collaboration – a milestone in any company’s history.
Learning to digitise, means learning to convert paper-based processes to digital ones. In the construction and property sector, the value of digitisation grows exponentially as digitisation take-up among stakeholders grows.
Collaborative analysis, decision-making and benefits can be improved through digitisation and wider positive societal outcomes achieved.
Through digitisation and information and data storage capability, such as a document management system (DMS), access to construction and property information and data becomes easier, faster and throughout the lifecycle of a project. On-demand access direct from a construction site or built asset can also be possible. Those born from 1980 onwards are also likely to be ‘digital natives’, so can assist those still learning with their transformation.
Mobilisation involves communication. It’s another key requirement towards participating and engaging meaningfully directly improving stakeholder communication, another milestone in any organisation’s evolution.
Learning to mobilise, means learning to equip workers with intuitive mobile solutions. In doing so, it allows them to benefit from cloud-based, real-time information-sharing processes and facilitates the improvement of interorganisational, interdisciplinary and internal communication.
Through mobilisation and information and data sharing capability, whether by email, or the cloud, the reception and transmission of construction and property information and data between stakeholders becomes easier, faster and more accurate throughout the lifecycle of a project. It includes the possibility of sharing updates direct from a construction site or built asset, even in real-time.
The dream -v- the reality
The dream : Imagine, for a second, you move away from the construction industry or property sector for a while and live in a land beside coral reefs where post comes once a fortnight. To ensure continuity of communication and collaboration with the rest of the world your first action is to ensure all those wishing to contact you can do so online quickly if needed.
This process can take a little time given the remoteness and the scale of organisations you are collaborating with but once in place turns what can be a time-consuming administrative task into a dream. It can allow you to enjoy living and working remotely yet productively, where you are in ’paradise’ – even with intermittent internet connectivity.
The reality : Return back to the ‘real’ world and you will observe a fragmented global construction industry and property sector within an increasingly uncollaborative and unproductive society still using undigitised forms of communication.
In this context, is it surprising that we are seeing the downfall of some major construction businesses today?
Research has shown that the continuation of unproductive practice not only continues the negative effects of poor communication but also adversely impacts the ability of teams to deliver projects on time/on cost, and including the unnecessary cost of rework.
There are some concerning figures to bear in mind. For example :
- Academic research reveals that, while context-specific, construction rework cost averages 5% due in part to the fragmented, uncollaborative nature of the industry.
- A UK market research company estimates up to £13bn is being lost in UK construction projects annually due to poor inter-stakeholder communication, and inadequate progress updates.
Get digital. Get mobile. Get productive
Make the dream real! Deploy technological solutions to improve your collaboration and communication.
Throughout the lifecycle of a construction or real estate project communication and collaboration benefits can be reaped through the mobilisation of staff through their use of digital devices not only in the office but in the field.
In this way basic stakeholder management processes, such as daily logging to a site diary, project management reporting; task management and quality compliance processes can be digitised across project teams from the outset of a project. This enables the entire construction workforce to digitise before more specific and advanced solutions relating to higher BIM maturity levels become valuable. There are easy-to-use technological solutions available for this, deployable on a large scale, that will contribute to improving productivity.
Investment in these solutions would ensure that communication and collaboration drivers for productivity improvement remain top concerns. Everyone from site workers with smartphones in his or her pockets to property managers with tablets will notice the immediate change and the usefulness of the devices he or she may already have.
The collaboration, communication and productivity outcomes gained by mobile digital solutions, minimised adversity and improved work understanding could transform the image of construction sector and ultimately contribute to creating lasting knowledge for transmission to future generations.
A new paradigm – technoevolutive?
Scan your organisation for early opportunities to derive productivity benefits of digitalisation for improved collaboration and mobilisation for improved communication.
Promoting the use of mobile digital solutions during your construction management or property management processes, whether in the office or in the field, can assist you in benchmarking your future activities and help you earn user trust, well before robots manage your sites.
They can even positively contribute to reducing your business’s image and improve your worker understanding.
You are now able to influence your business destiny. Perhaps the time is right to reap the combined benefits of technology with evolutive ideology through a new collaborative technoevolutive paradigm ?