Collaboration is a word that gets tossed around a lot, no matter the industry, no matter the time – it always has been and probably always will be a very popular buzzword. But like any buzzword, its meaning can be diluted over time, until you forget why it was so important in the first place. It can often be especially hard to remember the necessity of collaboration in the world of preconstruction. Let’s be honest, estimating is frequently a lonely task. And even then, collaboration within preconstruction can end up having a pretty narrow scope that never goes beyond asking for input from the estimator who sits next to you.
So let’s go back to the original definition of collaboration first. Simply put, it’s defined as “the action of working with someone to produce or create something.” Easy enough, right? But as a concept, it can still be pretty nebulous; something that sounds good, but has no practical, real-world application. And yet we’re bombarded with articles about why teamwork and collaboration is the key to transforming your company – and sometimes, why it’s even a critical aspect behind making a decision in choosing a new software or other estimating tool. Let’s dive into some different ways of looking at collaboration, as well as how reshaping our views can make collaboration an impactful resource that can transform not only your company, but also the entire construction industry.
Collaboration isn’t just working with the people in your office.
Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with brainstorming with those in your immediate department, and it’s also the most natural way we all collaborate. Who hasn’t popped over to a coworker’s cubicle or sent them a text to ask for their help on a particularly challenging problem? But for collaboration to truly shine, it’s critical to think outside the box. Are you able to brainstorm with your software vendors the same way you can with your coworkers? What about your industry peers?
Yes, it sounds counterintuitive, but all across the world of preconstruction, estimators are beginning to see the advantage behind putting vastly different backgrounds together to come up with something new that can make the lives of everyone in preconstruction easier and more efficient. One great example is the start of the BIM Forum. Chaired in part by Brent Pilgrim, DESTINI Applications Director at The Beck Group, the BIM Forum is an initiative dedicated to making model-based estimating more commonplace within the precon industry. The ultimate goal is that by using models to inform and build estimates, industry-wide standards can start taking hold, increasing both the efficiency and the quality of preconstruction work.
Collaboration between general contractors and software vendors is just as important as peer-to-peer collaboration. At Beck Technology, some of our most innovative features are a direct result of having candid and ongoing conversations with our clients – and often even general contractors who aren’t our clients but are willing to talk about what they would like to see in future releases. In fact, some estimators enjoy collaborating so much that they’ve come to join us on the software end!
Collaboration can sound like a lot of work – but in reality, it ultimately means less work for your team.
Let’s be honest: getting a big group together to brainstorm creative solutions isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Reaching out to other offices within your company, industry peers, software vendors – all of that does require some legwork. But the end goal means that your overall workload will be lightened, your processes will become more streamlined, and you’ll find ways to maximize your resources while minimizing the amount of time spent that you might have never thought of before.
One of the biggest benefits to collaboration, especially in general contractors who have multiple offices around the country, is that it leads to standards. If an entire company has a standard process for performing estimates and analyzing data, that means that it’s easier to share resources across offices. Suddenly, estimators in different states working on different projects can still communicate and fill in knowledge gaps because they don’t have to waste time learning how the other office performs estimates. In addition to that, standardization begets improved training for estimators just starting out in their career, which is also a huge attraction for new talent fresh out of college.
Collaboration gives you fresh insight and a chance to spread your impact beyond your immediate company.
As noted above, embracing collaboration means – by its very nature – that you must reach out to and engage with others. That also means that you’re getting a chance to put your ideas in front of a much bigger crowd, and possibly even affect the direction of the entire industry.