In order for large engineering projects to be finished on time and with quality results, many areas of design and construction must be coordinated between the parties involved. The Prime consultant, or lead contractor, must communicate effectively with the Subconsultant companies in order for work to progress fluidly. Every large project has multiple disciplines (i.e., architecture, engineering, construction, utilities, etc.) that come together as a team to reach a common goal. So how exactly do companies work together to ensure the job progresses and stays organized? Our Project Managers here at Unintech Consulting Engineers (UNINTECH) share their best practices for effective collaboration.
Establishing relationships enhances collaboration. During large projects, teams interact with each other frequently from their different locations. To maintain a positive and productive work environment, we have found it helpful for teams to establish connections early on to learn communication styles and to pre-set the best methods for sending and receiving information. Michael Pieprzica, PE, Project Manager for UNINTECH, explains the importance of networking and having lunch with stakeholders before and during the project: “It’s great to meet and establish that relationship early on because it makes it easier to share and be honest with each other when balancing the stresses of a normal work week.”
Meetings and Follow-Up
Another important aspect of collaboration is holding meetings before, during, and after projects. The goal of these meetings is to identify the major issues and challenges to come, as well as the opportunities for each discipline to provide solutions. James Aranda, Registered Professional Land Surveyor (RPLS) at UNINTECH, states that meetings are best held in-person whenever possible. “It’s really the most productive way because people of all age groups may be involved in the project. When the meeting is held in person, things can be discussed more efficiently.” Pieprzica adds that meetings should “only [happen] if there’s an agenda with a desired outcome.” He explains that every meeting should also have a follow-up, allowing each discipline and client an opportunity to discuss results and adjust plans, if necessary.
Staying organized during projects is a critical requirement for success. Typically, the Prime consultant will take the lead on setting up plans to meet deadlines. One of the methods UNINTECH uses to stay organized during large projects is by using ProjectWise, an online server which allows teams the ability to communicate and share files remotely and in real-time. The Prime consultant creates digital file folders and grants access to sub-consultants so that everyone can stay up to date on progress. K.W. Chan, Vice President at UNINTECH, explains that ProjectWise is an excellent tool for collaborating technically because everything is shared across real-time, and files can overlay each other. It also solves the problem of sending large files by email, which can slow down work.
Overall, collaboration is an essential part of completing large projects. Ensuring that each project meets deadlines and budget requirements takes a great deal of cooperation across teams and requires that each contracting company and its employees assume responsibility for their part to reach a common goal. In short, it takes networking, productive meetings, and excellent organization to complete large projects in excellence, all of which are much appreciated by both partner teams and clients.