Silos of Information: How to Break Down Barriers

One of the biggest challenges in the preconstruction industry is aligning expectations and accessing accurate information in a timely manner, especially in a time where owners expect more results in less time. Estimators can run into a number of major obstacles when trying to meet these kinds of demands.

First, sometimes information is just hard to access. Faster methods or resources for a difficult project may reside with one specific person, resulting in a bottleneck. Or, if a company has multiple offices, one office may perform their estimates a certain way while another office performs them differently, making it harder to share resources across offices when help is needed on bigger projects. Other times, the issue is simply that the data estimators need is scattered across too many different platforms.

Another common problem is that even if estimators can access data quickly, that data may not always be accurate. This causes estimators to spend too much time trying to make sure that the numbers are correct.

How can estimators break down these silos of communication? Recently, at some of Beck Technology’s Preconstruction Coffees, precon professionals came together to brainstorm some solutions to these common challenges.

Create company-wide standards.

Many of the issues rose from the fact that not everyone in the office spoke the same estimating “language” or used the same methods to build an estimate, which made it harder to collaborate across offices. When companies were able to move towards one centralized estimating system, thereby reducing the number of different tools they needed to perform estimates, they found it was easier for employees from one office to help those in another.

Ensure that there is a database everyone can access.

When there is a central source of truth that everyone in the preconstruction team can access, estimates are usually more consistent and accurate. This helps build trust with project owners and saves time for the estimators.

Give and get feedback.

Inviting key subs, such as structure, façade, and MEPs, to come to the office and have face-to-face meetings reduces misunderstandings and helps establish a better working relationship. Additionally, it is helpful for general contractors to provide feedback to subs after a project is awarded – giving them details as to where they were off and why they weren’t selected can help them become a better sub.

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