During a recent interview, Rob Humphreys, Viewpoint’s VP of Global Product Management shared thoughts on project collaboration and related issues facing the construction industry. We thought it would be interesting to share with our Viewpoint blog readers as well.

When it comes to better collaboration on major civil and commercial projects, what’s your opinion on the barriers facing the construction industry and holding contractors back?

There are several barriers that come to mind. First, lack of complete trust in the project team. That can be overcome by simply working together and realizing that success follows. Another practical way to address this trust barrier includes making agreements up front regarding the process, response times, audits, and so on. Plus, as simple as it may sound, construction companies can improve collaboration through better trust by having team members meet socially to get to know each other outside of the stresses of a project.

Another barrier to better collaboration that I see is fear of loss of control of the data, or a fear of sharing any more data than is required. Understanding that everyone wants to have the data in their possession, this challenge can be addressed by implementing confidentiality agreements and establishing a clear understanding of the security systems that are in place.

When team members have different goals that can be an obstacle to collaboration, which can be improved by agreeing up front what the expected gains are with collaboration and developing metrics that can measured so the team can be successful.

What do you believe are costs associated with project collaboration that’s less than optimal?

Costs add up with potential project delays as documents and drawings may take a longer time to be approved. For example, an unanswered RFI may delay a subcontractor and that can have a negative ripple effect on the schedule.

Quality can be impacted as well by subcontractors that for one reason or another, are not working form the moist current set of drawings.

Lower productivity impacts costs, too. When the collaborative process and tools are not used, the overall time spent managing the project may increase.

Without proper project collaboration, there is a higher risk and greater chance of post project claims and litigation. To address this, construction companies can rely on collaborative tools to keep accurate audits of who viewed documents and when, and when documents were modified and by whom. This audit trail lowers overall risks and protects all parties from potential litigation.

When it comes to increased costs and/or reduced margins, all of the above consequences can increase the overall cost or reduce the margin on the project.

Can you describe key characteristics of successful project collaboration?

It’s essential to share a common purpose. In order to work effectively, a collaborative team needs to take the time to explore and explicitly name where their interest overlaps and explore where self-interest may be in conflict. The single most important characteristic of success is a clearly defined, common, and compelling purpose. This purpose gives reason for people to commit to the process and the team. A common purpose not only pulls the team together but it holds them together during the unavoidable bumps that will be experienced during the project.

It’s also important to have clearly defined roles and ensure that everyone involved clearly understands others’ roles and authority. It’s also valuable to build solid relationships; although the team members don’t have to be friends to be successful, they must trust and respect each other if the team is to operate. On a related note, solid leadership is critical to successful collaboration. High-performance teams need competent leadership. When such leadership is lacking, groups can quickly lose their way.

For teams to work tighter, clear communication is vital. A team cannot move faster than it communicates. Fast, clear, timely, and accurate communication is a hallmark of high levels of team performance. High-performance teams have mastered the art of straight talk; there is little energy wasted through misunderstanding or confusion. The team understands that effective communication is essential, and as a result, they approach communication with a determined intentionality.

As well as a strong team, clearly defined processes must also be established to have successful collaboration. These processes will define the flow of work and also may be used to establish metrics by which to measure the team.

How can construction organizations implement better project collaboration?

Senior Management must drive the need for collaboration from the top down. The collaborative effort must be seen as a win-win by all sides and the benefits should be felt as evenly distributed. Companies should provide the right technology to the team to properly collaborate and metrics should be established and used as a way to measure success.

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Viewpoint Goes to Summer Camp – Sponsors PCC Robotics

by Sara Starwalt, Viewpoint Team Member

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Viewpoint believes that giving back to our communities is important to a healthy corporate culture and a responsibility of being a leading business in the Portland area. It was a privilege for our company to help sponsor the recent 2015 PCC FIRST Robotics & Maker Summer Camps at Portland Community College.

The event involved a 4-1/2 week long camp for high school age girls and culminated in a Luncheon and Demonstration to celebrate and showcase the AllGirls Camp and new Summer Maker Camps. The gathering on July 9 at the PCC Sylvania Campus involved camp participants and their parents, camp instructors, college faculty, and event sponsors who enjoyed a BBQ feast followed by a demo in the Machine Shop and a tour and demo of the MakerSpace (for 3D printing).

It was wonderful to interact with these girls who were so well spoken and excited about what they learned during camp. It was clear that they felt empowered by the knowledge they gained. It’s also great to know they earned 4 college credits for attending the camp, which helps expedite their college careers and helps ease some financial burden on the families, too.

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While touring the shops, it was fascinating to see how the girls – who had never done anything related to robotics and 3D printing as of their first day at camp – really dove in and were exposed to experiments and hands-on learning that simply isn’t available in their high schools.RoboticHandbyStudents---273-1

 

It was really inspiring to attend the luncheon and meet these girls, and I know I speak for Viewpoint when I say this program is essential in helping put women in the workforce by providing opportunities to learn new trades and skills for employment in Oregon’s advanced manufacturing sector.

 

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Viewpoint had the privilege of attending the 2015 CFMA (Construction Financial Management Association) National Conference in Chicago last week. In our 4th year as CFMA Principle Partner, Viewpoint was given the opportunity of not only exhibiting at this great event but also participating in several educational and networking sessions as well.

This year’s conference was one of CFMA’s most powerful and well-attended, with well over 800 guests. During the 5-day conference, there were 3 general sessions, 37 breakout sessions, and 6 dawn peer group discussions, as well as multiple networking and social events. Viewpoint had the opportunity to sponsor several of the networking events including Happy Hour for the Monday exhibit hall event, and we gave away a $100 Amazon gift card to a lucky visitor to our booth.

Amazon Gift card winner July 2015

Sessions
Viewpoint hosted a Technology Forum on Sunday where Rob Humphreys, Viewpoint’s VP of Global Product Management shared our vision for continued product enhancement and development, and unveiled some great new offerings now available to the market. The event was standing room only and it was a pleasure to see so many of our customers and other attendees at the event.

Robs session July 2015

Monday, Viewpoint’s Jeremy Larsen, Senior Project Manager had the opportunity to present a session focused on The Basics of BIM. This session provided a better understanding of BIM in the construction industry today, the recognized benefits BIM can offer an organization, and ways in which attendees can introduce or enhance the use of BIM processes through the use of technology.

Exhibit Hall
The exhibit hall was buzzing as well! With well over 100 guests visiting the Viewpoint booth we had the opportunity to show our breadth of product offerings to many attendees including; Vista by Viewpoint, ProContractor, Viewpoint For Project Collaboration, Viewpoint For Estimating, and Viewpoint For Content Management.

Throughout the conference, it was noted that 2015 marks a year of new challenges for many contractors as they come out of the recession. A common concern we heard from many of the attendees is that they are now swarming with work and need to increase their skilled workforce to handle the multitude of projects available. A report by Construction Labor Market Analyzer indicates that by 2016, U.S. construction projects will require 6.7 million skilled workers — about 50% more than are available today. To address this challenge, many contractors are looking for ways to attract younger generations to the industry. Technology to attract the younger workforce along with programs to educate students around skilled trades were popular topics during the roundtables at CFMA year.

Thanks again CFMA for putting on another great event!  #CFMACONF15

 

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PBJ Fastest Growing Companies June 2015Viewpoint Construction Software came in at #57 on the Portland Business Journal’s annual ranking of the 100 fastest growing companies in Oregon.

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Top 5 Benefits of a Cloud Deployment for your MEP Business
Viewpoint recently announced their MEP Estimating solution is now available in the cloud, providing users a worry-free IT experience that is configured, managed and supported by Viewpoint. For more information, please visit MEP Estimating.

Why would a business choose a cloud deployment?
A cloud deployment brings MEP contractors a convenient, affordable and on-demand infrastructure as an alternative to having to configure, optimize and back-up in-house software applications. Leveraging a cloud platform gives MEP contractors several distinct advantages including smaller expenditures for IT resources, hardware and maintenance. Additionally, with a cloud deployment, multiple users can access and update their data without purchasing licenses for different applications.

Here are 5 ways a cloud deployment can benefit your MEP business:

1. Ease of Use – Though often overlooked, this is “easily” the most powerful benefit. The cloud’s true
potential is to provide more than a web-based version of an application— its true potential is the ability to host ALL applications, and make them as easily accessible to the end user as if sitting in their office.

2. Cost savings – Most software vendors operate on a subscription basis, charging monthly, quarterly, or annually for their services, so expenditure on software, hosting and support is more predictable. With less investment in hardware, there is less depreciation of company assets and immediate expensing of operational costs.

3. Increased Flexibility – New software can be implemented more quickly, with training and ongoing support delivered on demand. Little or no capital outlay is required for new hardware or software, as access is usually via a standard internet browser. Pay-as-you-go services can be turned on and off quickly, and processing power, memory, and bandwidth, can be scaled up or down as needed.

4. Improved Reliability and Security – Software services are provided 24/7 from highly resilient data centers with security, back-up, and secondary systems that would be difficult even for the largest corporates to replicate. Cloud storage offers better disaster recovery, with automatic back-up and improved security.

5. Lower Risk Transfer – Responsibility for ensuring constant availability of data to a project team is transferred to a specialist third party. This third party is less likely to become embroiled in any construction disputes which may arise between the construction businesses, providing higher levels of neutrality and trust.

 

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