How Collaboration Technology Delivers from Design to Reality for Construction Projects

You know better than we do that it takes dozens if not hundreds of people working together to deliver on a major construction or design project. Even the simplest of buildings takes skill and coordination to ensure effective collaboration between architects, planning officers, construction companies and everyone in between.

So how are modern businesses facilitating this massive amount of collaboration that's required? Well, with one of two approaches. There's the traditional method, which essentially revolves around enormous amounts of paper. And there's the modern, technology-driven approach. No prizes for guessing which one we're advocating.

Working with your clients

You've won the contract for your architects' firm, congratulations! Now to work out exactly how to implement your client’s vision. As you know, get this bit wrong and your designers will be bashing their heads against a brick wall for the rest of the project.

So how can you ensure things go smoothly in these early stages when everyone is just getting to know each other? It's all about facilitating the easy and productive exchange of initial ideas.

If you’re going old school, this might involve a couple of days of printing and setup. Book out the meeting room, pull together the designs and sketches, get everything printed out and finally pin it all up in the presentation room so your client can walk around and review your vision. You’ll get the job done, but you'll spend unnecessary time and money in doing so.

So how about the modern approach?

Where visuals and design counts, the right display screen is the most transformative piece of meeting room kit you can invest in. A 4K display screen like the BenQ ST650K will allow you to showcase stunning levels of detail in crystal clarity, and at 65 inches, it’s big enough to display designs, 3D renders and mood boards in stunning detail.

If you're working as a team, then connecting a display screen to a collaboration device like Barco ClickShare is what really gets the job done. This simple setup allows anyone in the team to contribute and collaborate on the central display directly from their own work station – all at the click of a button.

If you envision there being a lot of client presentations and collaborative teamwork on your project, you might want to take things a stage further and invest in a touchscreen for your meeting room.

For design work, we'd recommend the Clevertouch Pro Series. It's a step up price wise, but the option to annotate and mark up plans and designs swiftly, then share them direct from the screen will make it worth the extra expense if it suits your team’s working style.

The goal is to find a screen and a setup that helps to reduce the barriers to collaboration and keep everyone focused on the creative concepts and ideas at hand. In architecture you really need to be looking at 4K display screens or 4K touchscreens to achieve this. Yes this takes you up slightly price-wise, but you'll understand the massive benefit of 4x the resolution of Full HD when you see the crisp details and intricacies of your plans and materials onscreen.

Increase collaboration, reduce cost

Working with clients is just the first collaboration challenge on a new project. You’ve also got to get over the sizeable hurdle of just how you’re going to work with everyone else.

You might get sign off from the client on the initial printed plans, but you’re going to need to take these to the planning consultants and contractors for their input and approval as well.

  • How many copies will you need to print out?
  • How long will that take?
  • How much will it all cost?

And that’s before anyone has started making amends. Keeping everyone updated with the latest versions of the plans is an almighty challenge in itself.

  • Has every little bit of feedback and every change been incorporated into the new print run?
  • What if you missed something? That’s a pricey mistake on an already pricey exercise.

Shifting to a digital and technology-driven approach has completely changed this for forward-thinking architects and construction companies.

Where once there were stacks of printed plans, now there is a Clevertouch Pro Series touchscreen, or a large display screen, such as the Sony FW-49XE8001, connected up to a workstation ready for the team to get going.

Where once there were couriers, interns and postal workers ferrying printed designs back and forth, now there are shared documents on a central cloud folder that everyone can collaborate on.

And finally, where once there was the expense of printing and reprinting designs and elevations, now it’s just a matter of a couple of clicks to bring the latest designs up on the display screen in crystal clear detail.

Technology is helping project managers and designers to worry less about costs and focus more on creativity, design and potential.

The global team

The challenge of pulling teams together is tricky enough even when you are physically working together. But the sheer variety of skills and expertise required to complete a construction project means that in today’s market it's incredibly unlikely you’ll all be working in the same building. You'll be lucky if you're even in the same city.

With architects in France, interior designers in London, CAD-experts in the Philippines, construction teams onsite and planning departments around the country, it's inevitable that you'll need to collaborate remotely at some point during a project.

It's great that we now have the technology to make this a possibility. But is your business actually using it? If you've ever found yourself trying to hold a conference call using a mobile phone on loudspeaker, read on!

Productive collaboration hinges on effective communication and to achieve this you need the right tools. To start with, you need to ensure everyone can hear and be heard; this means a high quality video conferencing system, such as those on offer from Logitech.

With plug-and-play connectivity, impressive HD video and mic coverage of up to 8.5 metres, a setup like this is essential if you have scattered design teams reporting in to a central office. You'll be amazed at the difference this makes to contributions and productivity when you remove all the 'sorry could you repeat that?' and 'who said that?' from the conversation.

A professional audio and video conferencing setup also helps with client calls. Sure they’d prefer a site visit, but if you have to arrange a remote meeting, who wouldn't prefer a crisp, clear video call to a fuzzy, muddled attempt at an update on an expensive and important project?

Don’t forget that your investment in a large display screen or touchscreen will pay dividends here too. Set everything up correctly and you can save your team's collaborative work from the large screen straight to a shared cloud folder. No need to post or even email round the latest developments to contributors and the client; everyone has access right where they need it, when they need it.

We have the tendency to see digital change as an additional complication to navigate through but the truth is, deployed in the right way, it actually brings a great deal of simplicity to the situation. For a sector like construction with so much hinging on effective collaboration, the potential to transform working practices for the better is well worth exploring.

If you would like to know more about how technology can help your architecture business succeed, call us on 0800 073 0834 or send us a message.