In managing construction, we know that at any given moment, depending on the scale of the project, there could be hundreds of different tasks that must be done. While the long to-do list might seem daunting at first, we can grow on the controlled chaos. Success in a construction project is expected with thoughtful planning, careful organization, and transparent communication.
Communication is the link that connects what a company does and what it plans to do. With any construction project, there is a responsibility to communicate honestly and freely with all the stakeholders involved to establish smooth operations from the start and end of a project. The secret to achieving the overall goals and vision of the project is through developing an effective communication plan.
Without a communication system set up in place, stakeholders won’t be on the same page on the project’s current situation, resulting in huge mistakes on-site that can delay the project for an indefinite period. This will also put your timeline and budget in peril.
Now, the question you might ask would be – how can you make a communication plan?
Here is an easy step-by-step guide on making a communication plan to manage construction projects effectively, no matter the scale or type of infrastructure.
1. Know the Project Stakeholders
The first question you have you ask yourself is this- who are the project stakeholders for this specific project, the people who need to be involved in the communication? This will be the cornerstone in any communication plan and will drastically affect the following steps depending on how you approach it.
So, who qualifies as a project stakeholder? Typically, anyone who is interested in what is happening in your construction project. These people include:
- Construction Manager
- General Contractor
- Trade Contractors
- Project Owner
- Structural Team
- Architectural/Design Team
- Anyone else who might get involved in the construction project
Go to your desk, sit down, and create a detailed list of these people so there won’t be any surprises later. Backtrack on all the people you communicated to in your last project- usually, you’ll come across a key stakeholder that never crossed your mind before.
Next, sort the list of keyholders and sort them into respective categories – this will be very important in the long run, thank me later. Your electricians, plumbers, site engineers, and other workers will fall under the “employees” category, while project owners, subcontractors, and suppliers will be categorized as such. Sort and categorize any remaining stakeholders left similarly, creating new categories as needed.
2. Define the Construction Communication Items
Now, list down all the “communication items” connected to a specific stakeholder later on.
Basically, a communication item is anything that needs to be discussed over the course of a construction project. This can be a project item milestone, a start or end marker of a construction phase, an issue on the project site, a construction punch list item, or a daily site report. You should include all the things that you think will contribute to the failure or success.
Some of the items you should communicate throughout the construction duration are the following:
- Reports on the progress and updates of the project
- Status of the projected vs. actual budget
- Status of the projected vs. actual timeline or schedule
- Major project milestones, or even daily accomplishment
- Any change order that might arise
Include expected not only items, such as milestone updates or weekly reports, but also unexpected ones or anything that might arise over the course of a project that could considerably affect any of your stakeholders.
3. Agree on a Communication Method
Now that you’ve listed down the people and the items involved, this is a perfect time to start thinking about the method of communication you’d want to incorporate into your day-to-day collaboration and construction crew management.
Some of the communication methods that you might consider are the following:
a. Face-to-Face Meetings
This method is ideal for significant milestones and updates in the project where multiple stakeholders must be present. During this meeting, assign someone to take minutes so that what you have discussed can be referred to and discussed later (especially in the following session to review your progress).
Emails are ideal for daily or weekly project updates involving many stakeholders. For a more organized inbox, you can make a separate folder for each of these updates, so you can easily access it later.
c. On-Site Discussions
This method is recommended for regular project inspections involving one or two stakeholders. Always jot down quick notes about what you have discussed in on-site meetings so you can file them away for later.
d. Instant Messaging
Lastly, instant messaging is ideal for urgent updates for individual stakeholders that need immediate action, such as unexpected problems on the job site. Ensure that the instant messaging application you are using makes an archive of these messages so you can review them later when needed.
5. Schedule a Regular Stakeholders Meeting
Now that you have established a communication method to deal with your stakeholders, you are all set to lay out the schedule of your regular meetings, especially the agenda on what should be discussed.
Below are some of the questions that you can ask your team in creating a framework for this meeting:
- What is the purpose of the meeting? Every meeting scheduled should have a clear objective to be held. Infor your stakeholders beforehand so they can prepare their questions and updates.
- How often do we need to schedule this meeting? Sometimes, meetings occur on the fly. However, in construction, where time is gold, we prevent this. Instead, set concrete dates and times for your daily, weekly, and monthly project updates.
- Who should be invited to this meeting? Not all appointments require all stakeholders to be present – construction managers are not needed in the minor updates discussed in the daily sessions. Identify the stakeholder positions and responsibilities within the organization.
After the questions have been answered, you can now decide the communication strategy you would like to implement. Some of the most commonly used in construction are check-ins, project dashboards, status reports, surveys, and to-do lists.
6. Form a Communication Plan
Finally, it’s time we put everything altogether- and this is where a construction scheduling software can come in handy, with features that include stakeholders collaboration, documentation, inventory management, and others (which we’ll talk about in the next step).
What you’ll need to do here is create a rough draft of the communication plan where you pair up each stakeholder with a specific communication item.
Make a spreadsheet that lists the following:
- The stakeholder
- Their position or title
- The stakeholder category
- The communication item
- Preferred communication method
- Frequency of the communication
- Schedule of the regular meeting
- Any notes or information that should be included in the communication
7. Find a Construction Management Software That Will Meet Your Needs
Defining all this information is only half the battle. Once you’ve determined the details of your communication plan, you must choose a platform accessible to everyone. You will need a tool to help you put them all together in an organized manner. In choosing your software solution, some of the features that you should look for are the following:
a. Open Communication Channels
Granted, not all stakeholders need to be involved in every meeting, but every member should provide input. With this, you can be confident that you allow everyone to let out their voice and give honest feedback, thus establishing trust and rapport. It also makes sure that no concerns or issues are missed or overlooked.
b. Tracking Project Progress
Effective construction management is done one step at a time and in pieces. In the construction world, we frequently use the term “phases,”— which means that the progress of the work is completed in various phases that are in a specified chronological order. Each phase of a construction project should have clear milestones and goals. Open and documented communication is vital as work progresses, so you’ll have to keep a written communication log (which is better if through the cloud) to reference throughout the project.
One of the frontrunner construction management applications in the industry, Pro Crew Schedule, can help you effectively communicate with your projects’ stakeholders anytime and anywhere.
A good communications plan will help you and your construction team keep everything on track. However, this plan also needs to be flexible. A communication plan can’t be as rigid as not allowing new concepts or innovative thinking to flourish.
There are various styles, formats, strategies, and methods of communication plans. The main factor to a successful strategic plan is that you must strictly conform to it. Don’t skip meetings, don’t freeze the communication loop, and don’t ignore your team’s suggestions. Find a digital solution that fits your culture, team, methods, and stick to it.
Let’s get a conversation started. Contact Pro Crew Schedule for your next construction project.