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  • Writer's pictureTammy Polenz

Software for Better Collaboration

Updated: Nov 13, 2020

By: Tammy Polenz, Integration Manager of Active Design

The design-build industry relies on good communication maybe more than many other industries. There is a multitude of moving pieces when it comes to constructing a new building or renovating an existing space, including site surveying, architectural designs and documentation, abatement processes, MEP planning, LEED commissioning and certification processes, construction and post-operational WELL Building design programming and assessments. When several different groups come together to work on a project, it is imperative that everyone be on the same page for the project’s success. Collaborating with several other teams that have unique processes, different locations and even different work hours can produce unexpected challenges. Compound this with lack of visibility or real time status updates and the results can be costly. Improving efficiency and preventing expensive mistakes can be easy when the right solution is implemented.

When I came onboard to levelHEADS it became apparent that the industry as a whole desired a project management solution that could make managing large complex jobs easier. PlanGrid seems to do the trick better than any other product once past the design phase and when the project transitions into construction. However, it does not provide the communication and tracking opportunities required pre-construction or as an affordable solution for smaller projects. After wrapping my head around some of our team and collaborator needs, my journey began in finding the best solution. The top criteria we were seeking included a centrally easy to use platform with a low learning curve and highly intuitive function. It was critical to finding something that would allow for team discussions, client visibility and interaction, cloud storage with version update capability, plus mobile access. The software choices test driven during this process included Asana, Basecamp, Trello, and ProofHub. Many others did not make the list due to expense, lack of functionality, or complexity in learning an entirely new system.

The verdict in choosing the right software was much easier than expected and ProofHub was our top pick. From a cost perspective it was exceptionally affordable at $1,068 annually, breaking down to $89 monthly. The software is exceptionally easy to use related to both user friendliness and intuitive function. Everything is included in the base software, so there are no cumbersome add-ons to integrate like with many of the other choices. Training new collaborators or staff members was simple and could be completed within 20-30 minutes, a coordinator’s dream.

Additional features for choosing this software included:

  • Central Dashboard with team messaging capabilities

  • Discussion boards and conversation strings by topic

  • Unlimited number of projects included in one low monthly price

  • Unlimited number of team users, including collaborating companies, contractors, and clients

  • Ability to create groups with individual project permissions

  • Contact information for all collaborators and clients in one place

  • Calendar and Gantt chart components

  • Summary and reporting pages for managers to track activities, outstanding task items and quick access on project status

  • Ability to create tasks for anyone invited to the platform with due dates, completion tracking and discussion capabilities

  • Cloud file storage capabilities, document commenting, mark up options, and task critical response labeling for teammates, collaborators, and/or clients

  • Version layering of uploaded documents to ensure everyone is viewing the most current document

The true test of whether something works is if it saves time, provides more efficient means for streamlining processes and improves client interaction. Project transparency plus open and ongoing communication with owners helps them to feel more a part of the process and in control of its outcome.

In every project’s success lies an element of personal responsibility and contribution from the entire team, including collaborating partners.

Finding a solution that works well to improve communication and efficiency while enhancing client relationships is good for everyone. There are many determining factors for choosing the right solution, which will dictate the best software for your organization. Start by making a list of your team’s needs and use this list as the basis for your search. Many solutions provided a trial period giving you the opportunity to try before you buy it. I encourage you try several before committing to any one selection. Ask team members to check it out too and get their feedback. Once you have finalized your selection, train your team on the software and any new associated processes. Your toughest objective will be team utilization in the beginning stages due to learning curves and overcoming old habits. However, do not let this stop you. Perseverance and consistent use will pay off over time and you will be glad you made the change.

Hopefully, you find his article helpful if your organization is searching for a similar solution. Let us know what you find!

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