Collaboration in construction


In Business Support, Membership Benefits

This article was written for the CIPHE by Emma Stapleton, COO of Copronet (formerly TenderSpace).

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Collaboration is an expression that is being used more and more often in connection with construction these days, but what exactly is it and why is everyone talking about it? What does it involve and why is it off-putting for some people?

Firstly, let’s look at a couple of definitions of what it is:

  1. General: Cooperative arrangement in which two or more parties (which may or may not have any previous relationship) work jointly towards a common goal.
  2. Knowledge management (KM): Effective method of transferring ‘know how’ among individuals, therefore critical to creating and sustaining a competitive advantage. Collaboration is a key tenet of KM.

When you see it written down like that, you suddenly realise that there isn’t actually anything frightening or new about it – it’s what we all do every day to get work and to get jobs done for our colleagues, partners and customers.

But why is everyone talking about it? Quite simply because everyone is starting to realise that the way we run and manage our industry needs to change and become more efficient. We need to start working together more, being more open and honest and smarter about how we work. Our industry, construction, touches everyone – where we work, where we live, the roads that we drive on and the hospitals we got to for help. Globally construction is worth $10 trillion per annum and yet, construction is the second least digitised industry in the world – only agriculture is less technologically advanced.

Recent research has shown that by being more efficient and collaborative and by embracing just some of the technologies available, the annual value of the industry could be increased by 16% each and every year. Can you imagine growing your profitability by 16% each year just by working a little smarter?

There are lots of tools we probably already use to collaborate in some way, shape or form. Perhaps sharing knowledge on Facebook, perhaps trying to find networks to join on LinkedIn or exchanging tips on Twitter. Some of these tools are great but a drawback is probably that they weren’t designed specifically for our industry or what we do. However, it does mean that we are already used to collaborating – we perhaps just don’t quite realise it yet.


So, what are some of the tangible benefits of collaborating and sharing knowledge?

Well, there are quite a lot:

  • By sharing tips and knowledge you can work smarter. And that means that you can get jobs done more quickly.
  • By sharing knowledge, you can find more work opportunities – every time you recommend a friend or colleague to a customer, you are collaborating and creating a virtuous circle that helps everyone grow their business.
  • By using the most up to date methods of working, you can avoid mistakes. Not only does that mean happier customers but it means fewer call backs to rectify faults or problems.

Lots of us worry about sharing our “data” and since the Facebook scandal which I am sure we have all read about there is a fear that “if it’s free, you’re the product”, that is possibly true to an extent but perhaps we worry too much about these internet giants using our data. We all expect to be able to use the internet for free, to look at maps, calendars, send email etc. There was a study recently that looked to put a price or value to the average person of “free” internet connectivity. It ran into tens of thousands of pounds each year. Think about it for a minute. You might find those adds that pop up from a page annoying – I know I do. However, can you imagine life without Google?

So, “free” might come with some irritations but they probably don’t outweigh the cost of us paying for those services. At the end of the day, the internet or digital technology is about access to and sharing of information.

Collaboration is at the heart of our cloud-based platform, Copronet. Our easy to use technology gives every business, big or small, the chance to find new work and to find new people to work with. We also provide tools to help manage your part of the project smoothly, saving you time and money.

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