Improving Collaboration Between GC’s Trades, Owners, & Designers

Communication is one of the primary ongoing challenges when collaborating across teams and project stakeholders like designers, trades, owners, and general contractors. Consider what would happen if you were bidding a job where the owner asked for the price of a curtain wall. As the owner describes how the end result is going to look, you realize that they wanted a pricy item that was double the cost of what you had imagined. This kind of miscommunication is sadly all too common, but there is something you can do about it.

Leverage Technology

Clarity in a project stems from being able to describe something clearly, explain what its purpose is, define the cost, and build a reliable timeline. What can we do to ensure clear communication? Part of it requires getting subcontractors involved, and part of it is just being able to issue more specific reports. Back when estimators had to use pencil and paper, it was difficult to piece together a cohesive package. Now it’s much easier to communicate all the different parts that go into making the estimate. Estimators can do research on the web and insert links and pictures directly into the estimate with software like Sigma. If the owner wants to see a particular item on the drawing, tools like PlanSwift can navigate there directly.

Make it a Team Effort

The best collaboration happens when owners pick an architect and ask for their help to interview and select a general contractor. They start doing budgets immediately as a team effort. (Unfortunately, this isn’t usually possible in federal and state projects because they have to be hard bid) The whole ballgame has changed thanks to tools like 5D and the connection between Sigma, Revit and RSMeans data. Now the entire team can collaborate back and forth about the project.

Use Multiple Tools to Drill Down

/it’s possible to take a model with Revit, import it into Sigma, and then do cost coding based on the RSMeans prices. Revit shows exactly which line item you’re looking at within Sigma to determine the cost. For example, you could hide the entire project except for the concrete or the roof. Then you can discuss that particular item, how expensive it is, and what the quantities are. Using multiple tools allows you to drill down on the costs until everyone has complete visual understanding of the scope and changes.

Answer Questions Immediately

Whenever you sit down with people to go through projects and bids, you should take the time to answer all their questions. This is possible to do quickly and very easily with Sigma. If they have a question about how a specific price was established, you can pull an insight report with a few clicks (or pull something out of a library if they want to see an alternate). This allows you to show the production rates and costs in realtime, which creates transparency. (Sigma can also do hourly reports for pay applications and even print timecards for projects.) You no longer have to tell someone that it will take a couple of days to get back to them. By leveraging available technology, you can slice and dice the estimate right there and show them exactly the information that they want to see.

The ultimate goal with clear communication is to use a common language for everybody involved. It’s not just about using the right words and phrases—it’s also a process. It’s how you get from the concrete cost all the way down to the parts that made it up.

If you need assistance with using Sigma for collaboration, please don’t hesitate to contact our support.

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