Using Technology to Break Down Silos in Construction

For those of us who have worked in the construction industry for many years, it is time we face up to an ugly reality...

Our industry has always had a love affair with silos.

Silos are endemic in the construction industry. The silos I’m referencing don’t hold grain. Instead, they represent the multiple subgroups assembled to complete a project.

Most of us know this is not a good thing and deep down, we wish it wasn’t true. But, the ugly reality of our business is this - construction breeds and nurtures silos.

Why are silos so prevalent in construction?

The fact is, most construction methods follow the design-bid-build process, which involves assembling specialized groups of people to make the project happen. There is the owner, the architect, the engineers, the construction manager, and the trade contractors. Each of these groups often has its own subgroups. The architectural company may use multiple design studios. The contractor may use groups aligned to specific trades. The engineers often have subgroups focused on different markets or disciplines. Licensing and insurance requirements promote a certain degree of specialization, detailing clear contract scopes for each group (silo), and discouraging any overlapping with other disciplines involved in the project. After all, who wants the painter to install an electrical service?

Increasing cross-functional communication and information sharing among these groups is beneficial to any company and can lead to improved efficiency, productivity, and job safety. Still, breaking down these silos remains a challenge and technology is proving to be one way to accomplish this.

Technology is Key to Breaking Down Silos

At Cleveland Construction, our objective is to eliminate silos on construction projects. By using Procore, a cloud-based project management software, we can improve efficiencies and reduce traditional silo barriers. Procore allows us to operate on one centralized hub, leverage the knowledge of all collaborators, and enhance performance and increase predictability. In short, it gives us the ability to connect people on the jobsite - from the construction manager and trade contractors to the architect and owner.

Technology Eliminates Silos Through Transparency and Collaboration

Cloud-based project management software enables both owners and project managers to enjoy a level of transparency and cooperation on projects that were previously unavailable. While it may seem difficult, the key is a robust project management software that facilitates the sharing of data and collaboration between formerly siloed departments, the field teams, and office support staff. These advancements not only help to break down silos, but also lead to better forecasting and budgeting, and enhanced overall client experience.

In the end, nonproductive silos are slowly being replaced by the beauty of collaboration available through these cloud-based project management platforms. Information is being shared across the industry to improve efficiencies and productivity, with the added benefit of increased safety on the job. Real-time injuries can be avoided by analyzing shared data from photos and videos gathered from the steady digital transformation of the construction industry and related to past job-related accidents.

Technology is proving to be the secret to breaking down nonproductive silos.