PlanGrid Construction Productivity Blog
When email threads unravel

When email threads unravel

Technology is playing a huge role in the evolution of construction. As people move from paper to digital blueprints, they’re discovering the benefits — which include enormous time and money savings — that electronic communications can give their projects. As a result, people tend to rely more heavily on email as their principal method of communication, despite the fact that it can sometimes cause more trouble than the seemingly primitive previous practices.

The main problem with relying on email? It doesn’t provide a central location for information gathering or dispersal. Emails can be sent out to multiple people, but the resulting chain of communication is confusing at best, if not downright unusable. McKinsey & Company hypothesizes that the average worker spends 28% of their workweek managing email, and almost 20% searching for internal information (or other workers who can supply them with that information). Using cloud-based software for communication streamlines this process by keeping all information and history on a project in one location that can be accessed by everyone. It reduces the time employees spend searching for information by 35%, minimizes confusion, and ultimately saves both time and money.

Email also struggles to consolidate information that might be necessary to reference a specific issue. For example, an RFI or punchlist item may need to link to a document, sketch, markup, or photo. Emailing these things out at different times and to different people can lead to information being lost, resulting in disjointed communications. Thankfully, with cloud-based construction software, all reference materials can be tied to a specific RFI or issue number so nothing gets left behind or lost in the mix.

The ideal software program would also provide space for team members to communicate directly via the RFI or issue in a more efficient and reliable way. Instead of an easily misplaced email in an already cluttered inbox, comments and project history would be attached to the issue number — so that the entire team has access. A program with these types of features — as well as the ability to set due dates — enables accountability, transparency, and ultimately a more time and cost-effective project.

For many industries, email is a wonderfully efficient communication tool, but when working on construction projects, it’s often the cause of more heartache than success. Do you use email for work? How do you communicate with your project team? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter!

Originally published on November 12, 2014