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Opinion: Communication can prevent delays, retain talent

Project Talk

Posted online

Communication is key to success. Who would argue otherwise?

However, does everyone in construction and project management understand the power of good communication or the consequences of poor communication? Communication is a crucial aspect of project management and supply chain management.

Good communication leads to better expectations and teamwork, earlier completion dates and often lower pricing. Individual employees, collective teams and customers all have better experiences with companies that emphasize communication and like strategies. Employees feel more engaged when they are part of the communication process. Teams usually have less conflict when there is a higher level of communication and accountability, as well. Customers feel more appreciated when they are kept in the loop rather than waiting for answers to questions they may never know how to ask. It is also important to remember that no news does not always mean good news.

Poor communication can result in frustrations, delays, more expensive projects and missed deadlines. At a time when most companies are struggling to find enough workers, communication is even more vital. A lack of communication within a company, between companies, and between consumers and companies may result in unnecessary delays. Communication is now a significant aspect of project management and supply chain management. Without effective communication, companies are at risk of losing their biggest asset: people. Even with all our technological advances, people are still the biggest advantage to completing a job correctly and on time. 

Construction increases during times of economic development, which results in consumers vying for the best companies and bids for projects. For instance, a citizen may be looking to build a new house, remodel their house, or finish the addition they have been dreaming about. A private company may be doing the same thing on a larger scale with new buildings, infills and additions. Or a public entity could be working on any type of construction or infrastructure project.

Problems arise when consumers only think of the work needed in their specific project. Allowing the construction company enough time to order the supplies needed will prevent delays if any material is out of stock and prevent additional fees to expedite the orders.

It’s not just a construction matter. Manufacturing companies are having the same shortage of manpower that every industry faces. When a manufacturing company is behind, it increases the amount of time other industries need to plan for projects. When construction companies are running short on manpower, they will have a longer waitlist for projects or will become more selective in projects to bid. The combination of the industries running short-staffed means the public will feel the results as the community tries to grow.

Having a point person who communicates with the rest of the internal group as well as external partners will streamline responsibilities for each piece of the project.

Because many facets of construction are weather dependent, expedited communication is critical. If bad weather hits, it doesn’t just impact the timeline of the owner/consumer, it also can negatively affect the workforce. Communicating with workers in a timely manner can prevent employees from looking for other lines of work and, in turn, keep existing and future projects in line.

Construction workers face unique challenges and must place an even greater emphasis on communicating early and frequently with the full supply chain, from manufacturing companies to the final owner or developer. Consumers should set a high expectation for communication to ensure they are informed of changes that will result in project delays; however, they also must set the precedent by communicating with the full team as early as the design stage of a project. The entire community benefits when we all work better together.

Megan Short is executive director of the Springfield Contractors Association. She can be reached at megan@springfieldcontractors.org.

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