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VIEWPOINT: Technology syncs preconstruction to enhance collaboration

By Peter Muench


A thorough preconstruction phase has always been crucial for delivering an efficient, successful project. Now, however, firms are under pressure to complete that phase quickly — sometimes in as little as two weeks rather than a month or longer, as was formerly more common.

Amid this change, variables have also become more complex, with uncertainty around availability of materials and labor making it substantially more challenging to plan and to estimate projected costs.

Fortunately, advances in technology can demystify and streamline the process. New software enables savvy preconstruction teams to plan more comprehensively, with greater synchronicity and complete transparency, to drive a key result: no surprises.

Today’s preconstruction software, along with regular meetings, immerses stakeholders into a project’s details and fosters all-important buy-in from the start. Everyone is involved. Anyone can suggest adjustments and everyone can immediately evaluate the resulting impacts. For example, if a decision is made to switch to an alternative flooring, the entire team can immediately see the rationale and impact on price, project schedule and other elements. The owner’s project manager or representative can communicate the updates personally to their leadership. Designers can update drawings and make any adjustments to related finishes. Contractors can enact procurement strategies based on the anticipated lead time, and schedule on-site activities so materials arrive only when and where they are needed on-site. 

The process creates a consistent message and empowers a powerful sense of advocacy across the team.

Advanced preconstruction technologies also offer other benefits.

• Individual users can run “what if” scenarios to evaluate options before bringing suggestions to the overall team.

• Users can trace changes and revisions back to their origins with only a few clicks, rather than playing detective by sifting through countless documents and platforms.

• Having a shared platform promotes transparency, as everyone — developer, contractors, subcontractors, and others — can see changes in real time.

Even with all these advantages, however, it is still important to note one thing. There is no substitute for engaging experienced professionals who bring the wisdom and creative thinking that set the course for a successful project plan. People drive the technology — not the other way around.

Meshing a collaborative approach with technology drives a “one team” mentality that is vital in preconstruction. When properly implemented, with an approach that values strong partnerships, the latest technology can be instrumental in ensuring that preconstruction is a smooth process. It can be a key asset in creating a plan that saves time, optimizes value and efficiency, avoids delays, enhances satisfaction and — most importantly — results in a highly successful project.                  

Peter Muench is senior VP of preconstruction services at LeChase Construction Services, LLC. He has responsibility for scheduling, cost estimating, pre-project planning, and implementation of VDC and AEC technology throughout the company. He also supports business-development efforts across New York state.

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