When we talk about wins in construction, we can focus on numbers and benchmarks: delivering the project under budget, ahead of schedule, or achieving LEED Platinum status. But the only way to achieve such important goals is through collaboration, which is rarely easy on complex projects with so many views, needs and cultures.
Yet it is possible to create a team culture – from owners to trade partners – that supercharges the project and makes what could have been impossible, possible. Here are three examples of Skanska projects in which exemplary communication and collaboration made all the difference.
1. Nemours Children’s Hospital, Florida
More than just a construction manager for the 633,000-square-foot Nemours Children’s Hospital in Orlando, Skanska was a true partner before, during and after construction. This enabled Skanska to understand the needs of Nemours and patient families, enabling the firm to develop a flexible building strategy that helped Nemours successfully launch its first Florida hospital.
Much like with the Regional Medical Center of San Jose, our Florida team had to work collaboratively with the hospital.
“In health care, change is a constant – it happens on every project,” said Andy Allen, the Skanska project director who served on the hospital’s steering committee. “But here, the motivation for change wasn’t coming from the design team and it wasn’t budget driven. It was coming from the patients, families and doctors. To Nemours’ credit, they listened and made adjustments based on that feedback.”
To accommodate such changes while construction was underway, the Skanska team deferred certain work – including building out the radiology suite and operating rooms – until as late as possible to ensure the best final product. For other modifications, flexibility and collaboration with the design team and subcontractors were key to incorporating other changes without impacting the schedule.
“Our team was able to absorb all of that design intent and what Nemours was trying to do, the environment they were trying to establish and find ways to do it while maintaining the schedule and budget,” Allen said. “It was just a remarkable effort by the entire project team.”
2. Indian River Inlet Bridge, Delaware
At the Indian River Inlet Bridge project in Sussex County, Del., our team had to embrace challenges outside of designing and building a three-span, cable-stayed bridge. The project emphasized the importance of collaborating and communicating with the community.
Peo Halvarsson, Skanska project executive, said this project changed his view on public outreach. Previously, he saw public outreach as a peripheral concern. But to ensure the community surrounding this bridge was fully informed and kept aware during construction, our team worked with the Delaware Department of Transportation to formulate a robust public outreach program that engaged everyone from school children to retirees. Regular project tours were held, as were two community open houses, the latter of which drew 900 visitors. Also, Skanska and our client formed a construction advisory group to provide local businesses with monthly construction updates.
“If the public is on your side, you have a happy client,” Halvarsson said.
The Skanska project team’s strong effort stemmed from a feeling of engagement – everyone felt they were making a difference, he said. And in the end, the project made a difference on all of them.
“Due to the high quality demands from the owner, from us and from our inspection team, everyone who worked on Indian River came out a better builder than they went in,” Halvarsson said. “It was a great learning experience for us all.”
3. Regional Medical Center of San Jose, California
At the Regional Medical Center of San Jose and all of the medical facilities at which we work, we think of ourselves as guests. We’re a necessary nuisance, and one of our biggest responsibilities is establishing clear communication and processes with hospital administration, medical care staff and patients. Without a proactive collaborative process, a team runs the risk of falling behind schedule.
In order to hit our immovable deadlines at San Jose, we had to create a culture on the job site that emphasized collaboration and speedy resolution of issues. Together with the hospital, state inspectors, the design team and our trade partners, on our most recent project here we established a team culture centered on accountability and the mindset that, “No challenge is going to prevent us from completing this project on time.” The result was a shift toward a lean model of construction.
With this approach, all key stakeholders brought issues forward, and discussed and pushed each other toward the best and most effective solution for the project. We emphasized open and constructive communication and focused on reliable promises. The architect and inspectors were on site walking through issues with us and trade partners were encouraged to come forward early with any concerns. This team approach, rather than individual groups working in silos, helped us deliver the project on time.
On all of these projects, an emphasis on communication and collaboration helped our teams execute as promised. From establishing job-site cultures founded on trust and accountability, to prioritizing partnerships, to engaging with the public, collaboration is an integral part of the building process.