A construction communication plan plays a crucial role in the success of a project - so much so that it can directly impact your chance of winning specific bids for your business. A simple communication error can have significant consequences, something you want to avoid at all costs. Mistakes mean delays, setting back your timelines and budget. That’s why it’s vital to keep your clients, suppliers, subcontractors, and employees on the same page with a thorough communication plan from the get-go. We’ve created the ultimate guide to a construction communication plan, giving you the tools you need to drive project execution and win more bids.
[Read more: How to calculate the true cost of a construction delay]
Why is communication important in the construction industry?
Unlike most office employees, construction workers don’t have a computer in front of them all day. They don’t have regular access to a corporate intranet or their emails. In essence, construction workers are often disconnected from the various communications that may be going on behind the scenes. It’s one of the many challenges in construction projects. To top it off, workers on-site can have little-to-no contact with anyone from the Head Office, meaning they rely heavily on their immediate supervisors for information and updates.
When a communication plan for a construction project is missing, it creates the perfect environment for a broken telephone. Communication flows are unstructured, allowing for misinformation or delayed updates which can have enormous consequences on the entire project.
When internal communication is ineffective, employees feel disengaged, resulting in job dissatisfaction and low morale. It can lead to higher staff turnover, increased levels of absenteeism, and more workplace injuries. Without an effective project communication plan, employees will inevitably fail to meet business expectations. How can they if they aren’t on board with the project goals?
There’s no room for poor communication in the construction business; it’s an absolute necessity.
Common Communication Challenges in the Construction Industry
- Potential health and safety issues: Communication is a critical element in on-site safety. It helps to establish a workplace culture of health and safety awareness, avoiding accidents or non-compliant behavior. It’s crucial that everyone is aligned and informed regarding safety procedures and regulations.
- Information shared is too complex: Communication needs to be clear, concise, and understandable. The construction industry can be highly technical and complex. However, this information needs to be digestible for all employees, no matter their job title.
- COVID-19 has caused additional issues: The ever-changing regulations are complicated for employees to keep up with. Sometimes it’s “business as usual,” other times, it’s reduced workers on site. These updates need to be communicated to all key stakeholders to avoid any legal issues.
- It excludes contractors: Ineffective project communication plans often overlook contractors and sub-contractors. It can lead to misinformation, missing information, or delayed data for multiple stakeholders. Despite not being official employees, they must still work as a team on a project.
A Guide to Creating A Reliable Construction Communication Plan
Step 1: Identify All The Stakeholders
Start by laying out the stakeholders in the project. Take the time to define who needs to be involved in the various communication flows and more importantly, who qualifies as a stakeholder—establishing a hierarchy of sorts. It’s about identifying who has sign-off when in the project communication plan.
Create a thorough list of stakeholders, covering the project in its entirety. You can house it somewhere simple. An Excel spreadsheet will suffice. Wherever you decide to store your stakeholder information, inform the project team so everyone is on the same page from day one.
Include details like:
- Full name
- Contact number
- Email address
- Job title
- Stakeholder category
A stakeholder category could be anything from employee to client or subcontractor. Like in construction projects, the foundation of your plan is imperative.
Step 2: List The Communication Items
Next, you’ll need to list the various communication items your plan intends to cover. A communication item is any piece of information that you may need to transfer during the construction project.
Some core examples include:
- Regular reports on the progress of the project
- Status of the budget
- The project timeline (including any delays or efficiencies)
- Accomplishments and project milestones
- Project changes or adjustments
- COVID-19 protocol updates
Try to cover unexpected items so you can prepare for any scenario. You can use the ALICE preconstruction product to simulate “what if” situations, quantifying their impact on your project. ALICE is the world’s first AI-powered construction simulation and optimization platform, allowing you to troubleshoot potential concerns and their relevant communication items.
Step 3: Decide On Communication Methods
From there, you’ll need to define the various communication methods you intend to utilize in your project communication plan.
The most common communication method examples include:
- In-person meetings
- On-site discussions
- Instant messaging
Try to account for all the communication methods available to you but avoid incorporating channels just for the sake of it. Ultimately, you want to streamline communications to selected techniques and communication preferences that work best for your business.
Step 4: Develop A Successful Communication Plan
Now that you've got the basics in place, it's time to tackle a comprehensive communication plan by assigning communication methods to the various communication items you've identified in Step 2. You'll then need to add in the key stakeholder for each method.
Build on this by listing the frequency and suggested definition for the communication type, so anyone who reads the communication plan is immediately up to speed. An example for an "all-hands meeting" could be "a one-hour meeting with all employees to discuss project status and get updates from the division heads." Definitions may be time-consuming, but they eliminate any margin for misinterpretation.
Step 5: Find A Software Solution That Streamlines Your Communication Plan
While laying out your comprehensive communication plan is essential, the final step is loading it onto a centralized software solution that all parties have access to. For example, Procore’s Project Management platform contains all the necessary tools for construction professionals to keep all communications in one place. Other widely used solutions like Autodesk’s Construction Cloud and eSub connect workflows, teams, and data at every stage of the construction project to reduce risks and maximize efficiency.
When looking for software solutions, look out for these features:
- Direct messaging
- Sharing customized reports
- Access to a timeline
- Cloud-based for easy access
A reliable communication plan affects your construction schedule and your construction timeline, driving your overarching project delivery. It can reduce unnecessary delays, improve employee morale, and protect your reputation with clients. It may seem like a simple step in the project plan, but you’ll soon see the impact it has on your execution and overall project success.
Use ALICE To Schedule
The ALICE Technology solutions use AI to automatically create construction schedules that reduce risk while cutting costs and building time. Use ALICE to develop the ideal program during the bidding or preconstruction phase, incorporating your comprehensive communication plan into the process.