Imagine for a moment…If life exists outside of Earth, the architects and engineers on (insert your favorite planet) are probably thinking “You know, with all the electronic gadgets and means to communicate with one another, how in the universe do those humans not get the right information when they need it?” Or “Why would someone not know what’s happening on their project?” Far-fetched thoughts? Um, not so much. Another thing they might be saying could be “Don’t those humans know lacking communication has a HUGE impact on the overall Quality of the project?”
If this scenario is true to any length, then we do need help down here. The following are some of the top pointers raised during several recent multi-disciplined brainstorming workshops held at the Buffalo office. Use these to assist with your team communications throughout the project life:
WORKPLANNING: The Project Manager must bring in the members of the team before design commences to establish budgets and include all the facets of the project delivery process together that are necessary. For example, Quality members and teams must have time allocated for the various reviews and comment reconciliation and Construction Administration staff have input that will require certain resources once the ground is broken. The workplan cannot be developed in a vacuum and needs to be updated often, especially when changes in scope, schedule or budget arise. Also, everyone has multiple demands on several projects usually, so coordinating workloads helps establish realistic deadlines and milestones and reduces conflicts.
USER GROUP MEETINGS: The most appropriate and knowledgeable team members need to be at the User Group meetings so information is exchanged first-hand between the experts and client representatives. For example, not only should Designers and Planners be there, but the Project Architect and Project Engineer should be there to consult for technical and code issues, as well as for coordination of decisions before they get detailed too much only to require significant reworking later on (i.e. locating vertical & horizontal pathways). Our internal goals and external objectives must be clear to everyone who needs to know them in order to meet delivery expectations for the client and to achieve our profitability and design requirements.
COMMUNICATION: What? How? When? To Whom? Why? Although we tend these days to have information overload, it is still vital for any project’s success to relay information from the early stages throughout the life of the project to everyone who needs it, including our external partners, consultants and clients. Reviewing agencies also need to know certain pieces of the puzzle in order to speed their approvals along. When changes are made, it isn’t enough to simply post a file in a directory and expect others to realize it exists and that they’ll adjust their work accordingly. A quick phone call or brief e-mail can diffuse many potentially negative outcomes.
DOCUMENTATION: For our benefit and for the success of the client’s project, documenting conversations, decisions, meetings, e-mail and voice messages clearly and completely will contribute to the successful outcome everyone expected. Being able to refer to a meeting decision made a year ago is invaluable to protecting ourselves from claims and from providing services that aren’t compensated. Lapses in documentation create too much risk on a variety of levels.
Keep these in mind when you are headed out the door to that planning meeting with the ICU nurses, recreation center manager or school principal and keep the communication flowing. And watch out for all that falling Skylab junk.
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