Putting together a successful construction project is most of the time a tough and demanding mission. Everything has to be documented in great detail so that your project remains protected from costly and time-consuming disputes. Of course, this requires crystal clear communication between all involved parties (client, contractor, subcontractors, etc).
As a Project Manager, you should be able to quickly identify problems and link them to the right tasks. Like that, you can retrieve data of critical importance very easily and monitor the impact of an issue on both your 3-6 week plan and your master schedule.
But how can you achieve all this? This is the eternal agony for many Project Managers and Project Directors out there. And regardless of the size or the type of your project, the answer is always the same. By using digital tools that have been specifically built for construction.
Many in construction think that their tools are fit for purpose just because they can exchange information in real time or, even worse, just because this is how they were always used to doing things.
As a result, several construction projects end up relying on WhatsApp notifications, Excel spreadsheets, emails, or even whiteboards to keep track of everything that takes place on-site. In most cases, it doesn’t take long before project teams end up lost in a sea of disconnected information. When it comes to claims this could mean penalties that could cost your project thousands of Euros.
Find out more: How to manage claims in construction more efficiently
This is why the use of construction-specific digital tools can make a difference almost instantly. Imagine the value that you could get by being in a position to complete your site tours much faster or by recording all the issues that you detect as you go instead of having to keep everything in your head for up to two hours until your tour is complete.
Sooner or later, you know that you will either miss crucial information or that you will spend your entire day working on admin tasks and chasing updates from numerous subcontractors. That’s certainly not the reason why you chose to join construction back when you started.
On the bright side, none of this is your fault. You had to get a demanding job done using the wrong tools and processes. On the even brighter side, there is a way out of the stressful situation you are experiencing.
What triggers a construction dispute?
Before we dive into more details about how you can manage disputes in your projects more effectively, it is important to take a closer look at what can typically trigger a construction dispute.
A construction dispute can be the outcome of various factors. Delays in the project, lack of precision on the way tasks are described, failure of compliance with the pre-set project standards, and exceeding cost are some of the reasons behind a project dispute in construction.
When a disagreement like the ones mentioned above appears, the whole lifecycle of a project is affected. For the workflow to continue without any disruptions, every single dispute has to be resolved.
Otherwise, there’s a danger that every process and task will freeze. An “on-hold” situation can cause serious delays and put the project under enormous financial pressure.
In order to solve these disputes, it’s imperative that you quickly detect the reasons that led to them. But going through 300 or 400 photos and a thousand emails without any direction to find the documentation you need is chaotic and comes with a lot of stress and frustration.
Construction software can eventually take you out of this tough position as long as it ensures a seamless connection between the feedback you receive from the site, your 3-6 week planning, and your master schedule. In that way, you can collect all the data you need to protect your project from a claim in a few clicks.
So instead of spending weeks or even months to manage a claim, you will now be able to do it in one or a maximum of two hours. That’s extremely powerful and can take a gigantic burden off your shoulders. But again, to do that you need a construction-specific platform that can ensure that your programme reflects reality at any given time.
How to prevent a construction dispute
Prevention is always better than cure. That being said, you should always put extra focus on recording all issues found on site so that you can foresee potential disputes before they even emerge. As we already mentioned above, construction-specific digital solutions are your most valuable ally in this challenging mission.
In a nutshell, here are the three main ways in which construction software can help you, as a Project Manager, protect your projects:
1. Stay always aligned with your Site Foreman
Your Site Foreman is your right hand in the effort to keep your construction project sealed against any type of claim. It is the person that has to walk around the entire site almost daily to ensure that everything looks as it should.
For every problem they discover, they have to get back to you as quickly as possible with a detailed report and photos that capture the incident so that you can resolve it before it grows out of proportion.
In other words, a Site Foreman is the person that can save you from many site visits. As long as you remain aligned at any time. This is where software designed and built with the construction industry as its primary focus comes into the picture.
By relying on construction-specific solutions, such as LetsBuild for example, you are always confident that the latest updates from the field, accompanied by photos and comments, are properly linked to both your short and long-term planning. This simple, yet vital, factor can save you from days or even weeks of research in the future when you try to respond to an unwanted dispute.
And this is also the reason why tools like WhatsApp, Email, and Excel, good as they are, can’t play that role. They are simply not designed for such time and cash-sensitive processes.
2. Reduce the excessive administrative burden
It doesn’t take much to realise that the documentation of all on-site problems comes with a significant admin and mental burden. The reason for that is the excessive amount of information that follows every project in construction.
As a result, Project Managers might end up spending 40% of their day participating in pointless meetings and taking unnecessary phone calls. To make matters worse, they often have to deal with a number of reports and updates which lie in different platforms or are even manually written on whiteboards.
This is an extremely error-prone approach that generates misunderstandings and forces Project Managers to spend most of their time in tasks that should have been completed just by pushing a few buttons.
Now imagine if a Project Manager has to quickly resolve a project dispute following this stressful routine. All operations would possibly have to freeze for quite a while until all the necessary information is collected. And this is under the assumption that all data has been recorded and is still available.
Storing all critical updates (comments, questions, photos) in an open data ecosystem can save all parties involved hours of work and frustration. At any moment, they will be able to retrieve all changes just by relying on an automatically updated audit trail that lives in the cloud. That’s something that WhatsApp or Excel can’t do. But construction-specific apps and platforms can.
3. Communicate with clarity and no interruptions
Construction projects can easily get messy if people are unable to work together and exchange crucial updates instantly. Construction software can be your eyes and ears on the site and help you act on critical requests as soon as you receive them.
That can be a claim raised by the client or something that one of your subcontractors missed while working on a task. Being able to share these issues in real time can save all sides from a lot of back and forth and can put a dispute to bed before it can even appear. That’s of paramount importance if you want to keep your project going.
With that in mind, it immediately becomes evident that you can’t afford to trust the development of your project on data that lacks context. Or simply put, on data that lacks the connection with your 3-6 schedule and your master programme. This link between them is what keeps everything together.
And, at the end of the day, this is the reason why it is so important to choose a construction-specific tool to manage your projects. Because WhatsApp might be an okay tool when you want to send a message over to your friends or family but it can’t be considered as your go-to tool when it comes to progress tracking and reporting in construction.
Learn from industry professionals how to keep your project safe
By now, it should be clear that construction and documentation is key. The success of your projects depends on how quickly you can flag critical problems, communicate to the right people, and resolve them.
The implementation of a construction-specific digital tool can help achieve this without feeling like you are drowning in a sea of disconnected information.
At LetsBuild, we want to help you protect your projects from never-ending disputes and deliver better results through improved team communication.