“One cannot not communicate.” - digital communication for large projects

2 July 2019

“One cannot not communicate.”

This is the first axiom of Paul Watzlawick’s communication theory, and construction site coordinator Mark S. totally agrees with the scientist and philosopher. He thinks that it is particularly true for construction sites. Construction sites? Yes. It applies to their planning as well as to the actual large-scale building sites that result from this planning and require an enormous number of people for implementation: Developers, architects, lawyers, building surveyors, structural engineers, administrative agencies, neighbours, suppliers, construction companies, journalists – sometimes it is surprising to see who is communicating with whom and on what topics in the course of a construction project spanning several years.

Mark has been involved in the large-scale construction project “wind farm” since the beginning of the planning activities. He is familiar with all forms of communication – analogous, digital, by phone, email, letter or even by summons from the authorities – as well as with their significance. Major projects involve more than just the simple transfer of information or the sending of requests and tenders. They include a company’s entire incoming and outgoing business correspondence with all parties involved, throughout the entire duration of the project.

Large projects can only be realised successfully on the basis of clearly defined processes that govern the creation, distribution, administration, archiving and if necessary deletion of valuable and important information of the entire project team as well as of all authorised stakeholders. Mark thinks that it is particularly important that everyone involved in the project – regardless of the fact whether they are working for his company, a partner, supplier or authority – always knows the current status of the project and also knows who will be responsible for the next step, no matter how small it might be. Sending emails with the project plans attached to them is therefore not an option.

Each successful project requires traceable plans, to-do lists and workflows that are continually up to date. Having access to documents, orders, plans and the entire communication pertaining to these workflows, any time and everywhere, even via the smartphone while away from the office, is necessary for each positive project course. Mark, who is also the construction site’s coordinator, always needs to know the document status of the current project calendar and the action items at hand, and he must be able to rely on the fact that he will automatically receive notifications from predefined workflows without any disruptive attachments that cannot be opened or might end up in the mailbox of an unauthorised person. He must keep an overview and transmit information and documentation to the right people with the necessary access rights who will need it to implement the project successfully. Considering the heavy contractual penalties, it would be irresponsible to miss a deadline or not know who has received what, and when. Not knowing where these assets are stored in compliance with legal requirements is yet another no-go for Mark.

After several tedious and problematic projects, Mark decided to implement a Cloud-based correspondence management system a few years ago. It allows him to trace the entire incoming and outgoing business correspondence on a project and provide it to all users based on their roles and access rights. The system governs the processes of receiving, recording and logging the correspondence that is being received, the relevant processing and reacting on it as well as the creation of an audit trail.

Mark is convinced that well-structured, digital correspondence on large projects can only be achieved with high-performance Cloud solutions such as the Fabasoft Cloud. The correspondence management of the Fabasoft Cloud can be used in many different ways, ranging from a filing system to data transfer or the management of complex processes with integrated workflows. It is perfectly suited as a starting point to quickly digitise business processes or professionalise collaboration on large projects, and particularly to design communication pertaining to contractual aspects with traceability even if a project runs for several years. The solution has clear structures for document filing. Instead of using emails, the solution is directly creating “letters” with consecutive letter numbers and transmits them exclusively within the communication platform itself. The metadata contains information on the recipient (project partner or client), the day or time when a reply is due or what kind of follow-up activities are required.