Communication in construction and the industrial trades has devolved into an overly elaborate digital version of the game telephone. According to the ninth annual Construction Technology Report from JBKnowledge, the typical industrial trade or construction worker uses an average of six communication platforms every day, and nine in total. Although that seems like a lot at first glance, we’re not talking about a simple math problem here. Most of these mediums do not talk to one another, meaning that the messages they ferry back and forth remain in little silos and require workers to spend time they can ill afford to waste checking for new updates from their colleagues that will inform their next tasks on the job site.
The lack of consolidation creates a logistical headache for supervisors and project managers as well. Without open and read receipts and other accountability features, they are left wondering whether or not messages have been received and, more significantly, acted upon, or merely ignored or not seen at all. As such, they often need to follow up multiple times on single action items to try and ensure that their workers get the memo and do what’s necessary to keep the project in question moving forward.
Missing Messages = Mistakes and Rework
Let’s say that one construction worker is utilizing iMessage, email, and WhatsApp on his iPhone. The crewmate hammering nails into framing next to him is utilizing texts, Gmail, and Signal on his Android phone. Their boss, who is off-site, is relying on Outlook and several enterprise software programs to send and receive messages. This is just a microcosm example, but it’s easy to see how wires can very easily get crossed, even within small teams on modest projects. When a commercial company has thousands of workers in dozens of different specialties working on hundreds of job sites across the country – and maybe even around the world – the problems caused by mixed platform communications are merely multiplied and the associated hard and soft costs compounded.
When messages don’t hit the mark, mistakes are inevitable. As we’ve written about in previous posts, re-work is the time-consuming, hassle-causing result when tasks are performed wrong and outdated specs and scope are used because updates did not make it through to the intended recipients. This means that the tasks done have to be altered, augmented, or started from scratch. This doesn’t merely delay completion of a specific task but has a knock-on effect on other elements of the project, putting both timelines and budget constraints in jeopardy.
The High Price of Mixed Platform Miscommunication
The cost of all this rework on a macro scale? $31 billion each year according to FMI’s 2020 Annual Report. If you add in time devoted to looking for project information that isn’t readily available, the total balloons to an astounding $177.5 billion, which doesn’t even include the additional expense of new materials or the four hours of admin task that the typical construction employee spends planning rework-related tasks.
The solution to this muddled problem is to eliminate the reliance on a jumble of mixed platform communications. Consolidating them into a platform that offers a single pane of glass view would enable your company to communicate more efficiently and effectively, with a dramatic reduction in the number of messages that remain unread or ignored.
The ability to target specific individuals and teams through tagging and tying specific threads to certain projects and sub-projects would enable you to get through to the people you need to keep informed, and also allow them to share pertinent and actionable information back the other way more readily and consistently. The result? Projects that flow seamlessly from stage to stage, workers who focus on productivity rather than administrative minutiae, and jobs that get done right the first time, every time.