7 Habits of Highly Effective Projects – Habit #6: Collaborate to Accelerate

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In Habit #5, I talked about the importance of process awareness. In today’s technology-enabled world, owners must talk to stakeholders and adapt processes to best fit the greater good of the project in order to overcome all those traditional bottlenecks that cause delays, discontent and money. 
 
Habit #6 builds on the practices outlined in Habit #5.  Owners must collaborate and engage all stakeholders inside and outside the organization—a particularly important habit as a project moves from the virtual environment to the jobsite.  
 
We all know that one of the biggest risks to any capital program is change orders. Change can wreak havoc on a construction schedule and raise project costs beyond the allocated budget.
 
But remember, outside of unforeseen conditions, change orders occur because of a lack of collaboration with stakeholders. From an owner’s perspective, this typically means we struggled to effectively translate 2D plans into a realistic picture of a facility that a lay person could relate to. You see, not everyone speaks our language. Some might even say that the Dean of the Business School or the Chief Surgeon or the Fortune 500 executive doesn’t have the secret capital project decoder ring to decrypt our plans, spreadsheets and Gantt charts.
 
Thankfully, best-in-class owners use technology such as building information modeling (BIM) tools to engage internal stakeholders and end users. These models can provide a 3D visual representation of the facility we are about to build. And to external stakeholders, we all know that if a picture is worth a thousand words, a model is worth a million. 
 
Top owners find a way to make complex models as easy to use as Google Earth so that someone with no design or construction background can engage in the process and contribute—thereby reducing the chance of change orders during construction.  Technology exists today where you can actually leave the model with your Dean, Surgeon or Executive and let them explore their new facility digitally. Believe me – if you let them virtually walk around their new classroom, operating room, or boardroom, they will have lots of questions. 
 
And we all know it is much cheaper to move a wall digitally than it is to build it, inspect it only to demolish it after the fact.
 
Once you’ve made an impact on Owner-directed change orders, now it is time to streamline the rest you may run. Holding change approvals only serve to delay the impact. Reducing cycle times becomes your new mantra.

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