Building an Effective Communication Plan for Your Construction Project

George Bernard Shaw once said, “The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

Nowhere is this more true than in the construction industry. Whether you’re working on a relatively simple renovation or a massive new build, dozens of tasks are in progress at any given time. 

With multiple teams, stakeholders, and contractors working on and offsite, it’s all too easy for communication to fall by the wayside — and the consequences can be catastrophic.

From delays to safety issues to projects running way over budget, poor communication is a problem no construction company can afford.

Thankfully, there’s a way to supercharge construction project communication. All you need is an effective communication plan — and here’s how to create one. 

What is a construction communication plan?

A construction communication plan is a living document that simplifies communication and collaboration throughout your project lifecycle. 

A winning plan keeps everyone involved in the project up to date, aligned on changes, and progressing toward the same goal.

Your construction communication plan should include details on:

  • Project goals
  • Stakeholder roles and responsibilities
  • Communication methods and frequency
  • Documentation and feedback

Why is a communication plan important?

Almost all construction project managers know the sinking feeling of realizing that a crucial update has been overlooked. 

That’s the thing about poor communication. It can derail project success, costing you time and money — and in some cases, even putting workers’ health and safety at risk.  

It’s no wonder that research shows poor communication is one of the major causes of project delays and associated cost overruns. Without a clear understanding of what needs to be done and by who, teams end up confused and misaligned. 

Essential components of an effective construction communication plan

So far, we’ve explored the components of an effective construction communication plan at a high level. Now let’s explore each facet in depth. 

Project overview and objectives

Your communication management plan should lay out the overarching aims of your project: the scope, objectives, milestones, and expected outcomes. This ensures that everyone involved knows what you’re trying to achieve from the outset. 

Stakeholder identification

This section identifies each of your key stakeholders — people like project managers, architects, subcontractors, engineers, and so forth. 

Include their contact details and categorize everyone by their job description or role in the project, so everyone understands who needs to be informed or engaged and when.

Roles and responsibilities

All team members should have assigned roles and responsibilities, so it’s important to clearly define things like:

  • Who will be in charge of weekly status reports
  • Who will report on the status of the budget
  • Who will report on the project timeline
  • Who will maintain documentation
  • Who will manage inquiries 

Communication tools and methods

Next, you’ll need to think about how you communicate. While you may have used emails and text messages in the past, these communication methods may not provide the visibility and transparency you need. In fact, they can be a barrier to truly effective communication.

Consider using a specialized construction collaboration platform that centralizes team communication. With ActiveDraft, for example, construction teams get more than just powerful document markup and collaboration — they can unlock the power of real-time communication, so everyone is always on the same page when it comes to project goals. 

Information distribution plan

To ensure that no one misses crucial updates or gets confused about when they should share communications, it’s wise to create an information distribution plan.

This outlines the methods and frequency of communication — how and when your team members should provide updates on the project status. The goal here is to make sure that every stakeholder receives the information they need in a timely manner.

Meeting scheduling

You’ll also want to define a schedule for face-to-face meetings, outlining their purpose, frequency, and which team members or stakeholders need to attend. 

You may, for example, start every morning with a daily huddle onsite, meet weekly for a project update, and have monthly steering committee meetings. Defining when, where, and how these meetings will take place is invaluable for ensuring communication never breaks down. 

Feedback mechanisms

A great plan is never set completely in stone. As you progress your project, you may find that your update frequency or meeting schedule isn’t quite right. 

That’s why it’s crucial to implement a feedback mechanism — a defined procedure that makes it easy for your stakeholders to report on any issues, so you can make improvements. 

Documentation and record-keeping

Construction teams go through hundreds of different document variations in the average construction project lifecycle. So it’s crucial to implement strict record-keeping and documentation procedures.

These procedures provide clear and detailed guidance on how and where stakeholders and team members should store project documents. This ensures everyone involved in the project can effortlessly access, review, share, and collaborate on important documents. 

Moreover, effective record-keeping is essential for compliance with regulatory requirements and ensures smoother project audits and handovers.

Steps for creating your communication plan

Now we’ll look at how to create your own construction communication plan, step-by-step. You can use this guide to build a communication plan template and customize it for each project.

1. Identify stakeholders and communication needs

As mentioned above, your project communication plan needs to list all of your project stakeholders, including project team members, clients, contractors, and suppliers. 

Once you’ve made this list, add each person’s contact information and categorize them as an employee, client, subcontractor, etc. 

From there, determine each individual’s information needs — what updates they should receive, how often they need them, and how to deliver the information. 

2. Define communication objectives and messages

Next, set clear objectives for your project communication plan, so everyone understands why they need to follow your guidance to the letter.

For example, you may want to emphasize that the communication plan will ensure timely project updates, improve collaboration, or address potential issues before they escalate. 

Once you’ve identified your objectives, think about how you’ll explain the key messages to stakeholders and team members to secure buy-in. 

3. Select tools and channels for communication

Your communication tool is the backbone of your project communication plan, so you’ll want to choose carefully. While communication channels like email and text messages can work, it’s much more effective to streamline and centralize communication into one user-friendly platform like ActiveDraft. 

With ActiveDraft, you can take collaboration and communication surrounding project documents to new heights. You’ll never have to worry about stakeholders missing important messages or tasks being overlooked. It’s your one-stop shop for all things construction collaboration.

4. Establish roles, responsibilities, and protocols

To ensure seamless execution of your project communication plan, assign specific communication roles and responsibilities within your team. In addition to establishing who is responsible for communicating what, you should also outline the frequency and method of updates. 

Remember to implement a feedback mechanism as well, so your stakeholders and team members can help you improve your communication procedures as you go. 

5. Continuously monitor and adapt

While your feedback mechanism will encourage stakeholders to report on areas for improvement, it’s also a good idea to be proactive. At team meetings and check-ins, make time for discussion concerning the communication plan. 

You may find, for example, that as the project progresses, the frequency of updates needs to increase or decrease. When this happens, make adjustments and let the relevant stakeholders know, so everyone stays informed.

Elevate your project communication with ActiveDraft

Effective communication is vital for construction project success. So develop and enforce a comprehensive communication plan from the get-go and adapt it as needed to accommodate changing project requirements.

For best results, lean on a tool purpose-built for construction projects, like ActiveDraft. Your team can access ActiveDraft’s intuitive browser-based platform anytime, anywhere, facilitating seamless, real-time document collaboration and enhanced project execution.

See what centralized, real-time collaboration can do for your construction projects.

Jeff Mack is the Head of Marketing at ActiveDraft, where he is responsible for developing the brand and telling the ActiveDraft story.

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