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How Collaboration Technology Improves Internal Communication

In the construction industry, collaboration is often associated with how a contractor works with external companies that make up the project team ­– such as customers, designers, and subcontractors – to share information and discuss solutions from concept to project closeout.  

But collaboration also involves the internal communication that occurs within your company, particularly the data-sharing that must take place between your financial staff and those in the field.

Cloud technology is ideal for enabling collaboration. The cloud allows internal and external building team members to tap into online project applications to securely share information and collaborate.

Collaboration technology can benefit you and your company in numerous ways. Here are a few to consider:

Minimize Risk
Some collaboration systems allow your operations team to grade subcontractors based on predefined criteria (e.g., work quality in the field or timely delivery of warranties). The evaluations are then automatically available to bid managers and estimators during the bid management process to ensure the right subcontractors are selected, thereby reducing project risks. 

Make Sure Everyone Is in Sync
How do you currently get the latest cost information to key decision-makers in the field? Some cloud-based project collaboration systems integrate with financial systems to give authorized operations staff visibility into cost numbers. The integration can also eliminate duplicate data entry for your accounting team.

Gain Faster Change Order Approvals
The faster you can get a change order started and approved, the faster you’re going to get paid. For example, let’s say an RFI that indicates that extra work will be needed. With some collaboration systems, that RFI can be turned into a change request that is then distributed and tracked to speed up approval. Not only does this help the revenue side of your projects, it also improves cash flow.

Collect All Project Data for Quick Closeout 
Your operations team may also use collaboration software to automatically collect all documents and other digital assets used throughout the project. This can speed up the closeout process and allow revenue to be recognized more quickly.  

As a CFM, you may be responsible for how data is disseminated in your organization. When considering a cloud-based collaboration system for your company, look for one with the ability to designate who can receive what information. Also ensure that the system has strong security in place by looking for certifications, such as SSAE 16 SOC 2.

Overall, adoption of project collaboration technology is growing among construction companies. Implementing these systems can yield greater efficiency, lower risk, and improved profit margins.

Copyright © 2016 by the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA). All rights reserved. This article first appeared in April 2016 Bottom Lines newsletter.

About the Author

Dennis Stejskal

Dennis Stejskal is Vice President of Strategy and Customer Success for the Construction and Real Estate business of Sage in its Beaverton, OR, location.

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