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November 09, 2021

Miscommunication on a construction site can be damaging…Here's a refresher on construction terminology.

Enhancing Project Team Communications through Collaboration  

To newcomers in the construction industry, the variety of skillsets needed to perform at a high level can seem dizzying. Not only that, but basic business practices can make even the most polished project manager need to take a crash course in how performance is measured in the construction industry. And while technology solutions like project management software may seem universally understood in terms of their purpose, even those solutions can take on very specific identities when used in a construction setting.  

That’s why it’s so important to have a firm grasp on basic construction vocabulary that every professional utters on a day-to-day basis. Terminology is critical to understanding what field workers are experiencing when in the thick of a project, just like it is when conferring with an estimator or accountant in the home office. It’s essential that communication be streamlined across departments for the sake of the project, and basic vocabulary is an important place to start. 

Communication can make or break projects – misunderstandings that grow out of control can tear teams apart. Let’s look at some of the basic terminologies every project team member should understand to help foster productive communications. 

A Refresher on Key Construction Terms 

First, let’s start with some basics. Building Information Modeling, or BIM, is the use of software that provides a digital rendering of a building and its internal systems to spot potential conflicts before the structure is built. It also helps to more accurately pinpoint the amount of materials needed to cut down on waste and reduce project expenses by not ordering too much of a given product or material.  

In the same vein, Computer-Aided Design is an architectural software product that allows design teams to digitally create detailed building models to help create a better final product.  

Construction Project Management Software is a platform that incorporate numerous features, from monitoring the financial performance of a project to tracking employee hours against the project budget. It is a necessary tool for driving stronger collaboration and accountability among team members while reducing the traditional paper trail that construction projects generate.  

A frequently used tool of project teams is the daily report, an accounting from the site foreman created at the end of each day to capture key milestones, materials usage, safety statistics, and the current state of completed work, among other key details. These documents are often shared via cloud-based collaboration tools that enable the real-time sharing of key project updates.  

Integrated Project Delivery is a term that’s growing in relevance and popularity, thanks to its forward-thinking approach to project management. It’s a single contract for multiple stakeholders, typically the contractor, owner, and architect, which enables each party to share in the risk and rewards of building a project on-time and on-budget (or ahead of schedule and under-budget.) Communication is key for IPD, which is why cloud-based project collaboration software could prove useful for keeping the major team members in sync regardless of physical location.  

Request for Information, or RFI, and a Request for Proposal, or RFP, are two key documents that play a central role in almost any construction project. The RFI is a document that allows contractors to ask questions of potential project partners, and an RFP is what a building owner or owner’s representative will traditionally issue to qualify potential contractors for building or managing a new project. Capturing these documents for the duration of the project is essential to avoiding confusion about stated goals or providing answers to questions that come up time and again. Bringing this information into the digital arena is central to the value proposition of construction project management software, which makes it possible to capture the information in an RFI or RFP and store it in the cloud so any team member can access it at any time.  

Finally, a submittal is a document that captures key project details for use by the architect and engineer for verification purposes. Submittals will cover everything from materials information to shop drawings and help project teams verify specifications before building the physical structure or installing certain products. This is yet another document that can be saved in a digital format and shared through the cloud with the help of construction project management software to eliminate the need to drive to the home office to review paper-based documentation.  

Construction Software that Brings Teams Together 

While many of these terms may be known to construction industry veterans, a key theme between all of them is that construction project management software can greatly enhance their usefulness. Project documentation that stays locked in paper-based documents or silo’d applications provide no gains in efficiency or accuracy when building a project. 

USI provides numerous project management and collaboration platforms for the construction industry. Contact USI today for a demonstration of cutting-edge Sage software and see how your teams can benefit from streamlined communications.  

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