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7 Habits of Highly Effective Projects – Habit 6 “Collaborate to Accelerate”

by Chris Bell   |   July 7, 2020

Best-in-class owners seek to prioritize collaboration above all else.

In Habit #5, I talked about the importance of process awareness. In today’s technology-enabled world, owners must talk to stakeholders and adapt processes to best fit the greater good of the project in order to overcome all those traditional bottlenecks that cause delays, discontent, and money.

Habit #6 builds on the practices outlined in Habit #5. Owners must collaborate and engage all stakeholders inside and outside the organization—a particularly important habit as a project moves from the virtual environment to the job site.

We all know that one of the biggest risks to any capital program is change orders. Change can wreak havoc on a construction schedule and raise project costs beyond the allocated budget.

But remember, outside of unforeseen conditions, change orders occur because of a lack of collaboration with stakeholders. From an owner’s perspective, this typically means we struggled to effectively translate 2D plans into a realistic picture of a facility that a layperson could relate to. You see, not everyone speaks our language. Some might even say that the Dean of the Business School or the Chief Surgeon or the Fortune 500 executive doesn’t have the secret capital project decoder ring to decrypt our plans, spreadsheets, and Gantt charts.

Thankfully, best-in-class owners use technology such as building information modeling (BIM) tools to engage internal stakeholders and end-users. BIM functionality can often be found in construction management software. These models can provide a 3D visual representation of the facility we are about to build. And to external stakeholders, we all know that if a picture is worth a thousand words, a model is worth a million.

Top owners find a way to make complex models as easy to use as Google Earth so that someone with no design or construction background can engage in the process and contribute—thereby reducing the chance of change orders during construction. The technology exists today where you can actually leave the model with your Dean, Surgeon, or Executive and let them explore their new facility digitally. Believe me – if you let them virtually walk around their new classroom, operating room, or boardroom, they will have lots of questions.

And we all know it is much cheaper to move a wall digitally than it is to build it, inspect it only to demolish it after the fact.

Once you’ve made an impact on Owner-directed change orders, now it is time to streamline the rest you may run. Holding change approvals only serve to delay the impact. Reducing cycle times becomes your new mantra.

Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, Fla. is the largest private, independent, non-profit teaching hospital in South Florida. In 2014, Mount Sinai adopted our construction management software (e-Builder) to manage its growing capital program. Specifically, they wanted to eliminate the paper processes and approvals on day-to-day operations (e.g., get control of change orders and RFIs) and consolidate the numerous spreadsheets circulating for weekly reports. Since rolling out 2015, the hospital system has reduced the change order approval time from 87 days to 26 days – and they believe that number will shrink even more.

As you look for ways to improve processes, emphasize and embed collaborative tools like a construction management software to accelerate and accentuate communication.

Key Topics Covered: Capital Improvement Program, Capital Program, Construction Project Management, Owners in construction

About the Author

Chris Bell
Vice President, Marketing

Chris Bell serves as the Vice President of Marketing leading all aspects of marketing including market strategy, product marketing, demand generation, CRM, brand strategy, public relations, and social media.

Throughout his 20+ year career, Chris has leveraged a unique blend of backgrounds from the engineering & construction industry, project & program management, and software industry to position tech companies for growth. He most recently served as Chief Marketing Officer at ARES Project Management and Active Risk. He also served as VP of Product Strategy & Management at Deltek and key marketing roles at Oracle | Primavera and AECOM.

Chris holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Mansfield University, a PMP from Boston University, and PM Leadership from Construction Industry Institute.

Connect with Chris on LinkedIn.