3 keys to align your team around project milestones

Written by LetsBuild

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Individual efforts are multiplied when everyone in a team combines their strengths. True team collaboration is not about the strength in numbers but rather how the team works together around shared goals. In a construction project, the key to your project success is keeping everyone aligned around your project milestones. Learn about the three secrets of achieving that.

1. Make your project plan accessible to everyone in your team

The heartbeat of your project is your schedule. As the project manager, one of your main priorities is to maintain your construction rhythm at a regular pace. In order to deliver successfully, you have to keep a steady pulse. Refrain from going too rapidly and avoid being too relaxed.

For reproducible projects like apartment blocks of similar designs or roadworks with indistinguishable features, you can standardise the processes involved, break them down into smaller tasks, and organise them in your programme in a way that they consistently add value as your project progresses.

By arranging smaller tasks into a detailed daily schedule, you get to precisely map out your next steps, have better project control and anticipate delays before they could cause any huge issue. When tasks are outlined in days then any project snarl-up will only result in delays of countable days. However, when you estimate your project tasks in monthly lumps, most likely you will face delays that proceed in months.

Chunking tasks can negatively impact your project pacing with extended delays. Planning your entire project from start to finish is good. However, rolling your plan out in 3-6 week lookahead programmes make your execution better. Having short-term plans and linking them to your master schedule gives you better flexibility: you are able to define your next milestones with precision while aligning your team around them better.

Free ebook: Why WhatsApp and Excel aren’t enough for running complex construction projects

However, we have this current cultural problem in the construction industry: project managers using the wrong tools to connect a myriad of schedules, giving rise to disconnected information within their projects and teams. Usually, the master schedule is in paper form, with detailed programmes in MS Project, site updates on WhatsApp, Messenger and texts, outdated reports on Excel, and document approvals in emails. That is even without phone calls in the equation! With all your work scattered around these applications, software, and hand-processed data, it is unobtainable to keep track of whatever is happening on site. Remember a decade ago when you started to digitally file all your documents? The time has come again to re-do the system we are used to and start moving all project data and communication to the cloud.

By connecting your teams in a centralised programme, all your project data and workflows are connected in real time. This enables quality collaboration among your project members, giving them the ability to make timely decisions about your project so they can predict issues and resolve them early before they can cause any major delay.

Take for instance, Matt Ghin, the Project Director at Volker FitzPatrick. He traded his MS Project, WhatsApp and Excel with a centralised construction-specific software. While in a meeting, he got a push notification on his phone regarding a delayed task. By simply looking at the connected task in his procurement schedule within the same app, he was able to postpone that day’s concrete trucks and reschedule them to the correct day. Having a live, central schedule where everyone’s task is connected, allowed him to cancel a €10,000 concrete order that would have ended up as waste, costing his company unnecessarily.

“We’re not phoning out, we are not using WhatsApp groups, we’re not sending emails. The programme is just live, it’s there and all data from the site is captured…we often had subcontractors arriving on site and not getting any work done because the previous tasks haven’t been completed. Now, we have full visibility of project progress. So if there is going to be a delay, we let them know a week beforehand,” explains Matt Ghinn.

Learn more: I use MS Project. Why would I want to use something else?

2. Have transparency in your project’s progress

In order for your team members to collaborate effectively, your team (and your entire company) should be equipped to communicate transparently. That’s how everyone arrives at the big picture. Unless they are able to have access or contribute to the big picture, your project will not embody a reliable, accurate version of the truth.

The only way for you to reach this ideal scenario is to move all your project data to the cloud. This allows a transparent view of what everyone is doing, connecting all the dots and keeping all team members on the same page at all times. Your programme is always up-to-date with the right information, with contextless data filtered out.

Raul Hernandez, VP of Business Development at Grupo Provivienda, reduced his team’s building time from 310 days down to 60 days after moving their master plan and schedule to the cloud. As a residential contractor, it was important to get his team fully aligned and can work on the same programme. This shift in their work culture allowed their workers to commit to their promised execution and take ownership in resolving constraints that may come their way.

“Before, it was taking us 310 days to construct a house. It was due to downtime between activities. Now the same house is built in 60 days. The thing that changed it for us was connecting the teams through a live programme. If your programme is not updated frequently, problems on site get worse because they have not been communicated to the right person quickly,” says Raul.

3. Get your team members to contribute to the schedule with or without you moderating

The whole point of bringing connectivity on the construction site is to get everyone on site to contribute real-time updates whether you, as project manager, are on-site or not. Anyone out working in the field should be able to check their phones, add and respond to updates, pitch in their comments, so the right people can take action to prevent or resolve a project constraint.

Read also: How to bring your construction schedule straight to the site

Having a central place where everyone can share progress, flag issues and react to work issues is the key to getting everyone aligned with your milestones.

“Our programme is updated at site level. That means that the operative supervisor provides us the information from the site. So we get photos; we get updates. This allows the team to take more ownership and provides us with visibility across the whole site team,” adds Matt Ghinn of VolkerFitzpatrick.

Align everyone with your milestones, get ahead with your project schedule

Practicing these three steps is a sure way to get your teams connected and that everyone consistently stays on track to ensure that you deliver your project successfully. You can also have everyone in your project aligned at all times. We have an ebook that you can freely download so you, too, can be on top of your project milestones and project schedule.