The Importance Of Effective Communication Information Technology Essay

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1st Jan 1970 Information Technology Reference this

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Effective communication is crucial to successful performance of teams and for project completion in the construction industry. Various organisations are involved in contributing the delivery of technically complex and schedule driven projects.

Why should be there research in this area

This dissertation will derive from knowledge obtained from understanding the theories and practices of communication in construction projects, along with knowledge of developments in communication methods implemented during construction phases. The effectiveness of communication methods used between the principal contractor and the design team will be analysed and key issues in communication identified. This in turn will help to understand the reason behind ineffective communication that causes numerous problems in project processes.

How are you going to do it?

Key findings

Introduction

Construction is a project oriented industry, and many of the projects are of great magnitude, involving various organisations and teams working to meet projects objectives. No one in the construction industry today would deny that effective communication is crucial for the successful performance of teams and projects. Emmitt and Gorse (2003).

This dissertation will be investigating the relationship between a medium sized contractor and a design team working on traditional contract project. The idea for this dissertation derived from comments received on rising issues in communication that continue to cause inconsistencies during project’s activities as a result of ineffective communication.

Construction projects are complex and risky endeavours, containing a variety of elements that cause projects to run overtime, over budget and produce poor quality results. During the design and construction stages of the project there are numerous communication channels created between the design team and the main contractor, in order to allow information related to project’s activities to be disseminated among the participants. For this information to be sent and received accurately and clearly amid designer and a contractor, it is imperative that the relationship between these key parties include competent communicators and effective communication tools in order to interact successfully. During design and construction stages of the project it is of high importance that the accuracy of information that is being transferred between these parties is effectively communicated, as this, in turn will greatly affect the teamwork and positively influence the progress of the project throughout its duration. (reference)

Effective communications is essential to a successful construction project. If participants are unable to communicate information, ideas and issues simply and clearly to others then the project is unlikely to succeed. (Reference).

Dainty et al. (2006, p. 5) argue that communication in construction is multifaceted and inherently complex, encompassing several dimensions on individual, group and organizational levels: not only does it involve the transfer of information, but also it bridges distances, is the basis of interaction between people, and conveys feelings, values and beliefs.

The problem occurs when communication is handled inadequately during numerous activities. The information that is disseminated between involved, or project related parties can be inaccurate, unclear or misunderstood.

This information is distributed using variety of methods and tools, and it’s the skill of the sender and the circumstances as well as competence of the receiver that may affect this information to be communicated effectively.

Whether the specification designed by the architect is clear, whether the participants of the projects understand the information, and if not how effectively can they inform the issue, or if its been noticed at all. Effective Communication methods during all these phases of the project are key aspects to successful construction.

This dissertation will be presenting a relationship between a medium sized contractor and the design teams.

Aims and Objectives

Structure of Dissertation

Literature Review

Emmitt and Gorse (2003) state that communication is implicit in everything we do. In other words that anything we do with other people must involve some sort of communication, Harley (1999) backs up this argument. Thomas, Tucker and Kelly (1998), explain in simple terms that communication is the sending and the receiving between the team members. This is similar to Cherry (1978) who states that communication is the process of interaction between individuals in which meaning is created and shared. One must understand that when relating this process to construction, communication is one of the most utilised activities. This is because as Betts (1991) states; construction is a complex and managerial activity, involving many different individuals and organisations interacting within a project environment. It is important to understand why effective communication is crucial in project oriented organisations; this is because there is a direct relationship between communications effectiveness and projects success. Thomas, Tucker and Kelly (1998),

Emmitt and Gorse (2003) emphasise that good communication within an organisation and between organisations contributing to the construction project can improve motivation levels and improve production process. Ballad and Howell (2003) included the importance of successful communication in the lean project management, claiming that if communication is effectively utilised in the project then this greatly improves the chances of project’s success in terms of on time delivery and reduction in costs.

Consequently, inadequate communication can result in a de-motivated workforce and lead to problems in production. Emmitt and Gorse (2003) follow this up by saying that poor co-ordination and communication of design information leads to design problems that cause design errors.

These acknowledgements of significance to effective communication have lead me to believe that if in construction project communication is ineffective then this issue can play a vital element in why a construction project fails to deliver or achieve objectives. This is backed up by Thomas, Tucker and Kelly (1998), who explain that project performance can be enhanced through the implementation of effective project communications and conversely, projects can fail if hindered with poor communications.

To achieve effective communication in construction projects, it seems that there are numerous factors that require investigating and understanding, before effective communication can be introduced and implemented. (REFERENCE)

The question is then; how does a project oriented organisation achieve effective communication? And what could be the causes of ineffective communication that result in inconsistencies during the construction phases?

Emmitt and Gorse (2003) state that; effective communication lies at the heart of a business, inherent in leadership and management. Thomas, Tucker & Kelly (1998) also say that project’s characteristics such as structure, size and location influence the effectiveness of communication.

During my studies I have gathered common views that are related to issues during construction phase and post construction that were caused by ineffective communication between the main contractor and the design team. Through further research I wish to understand how effective communication can be achieved in these cases, and possibly unravel these issues in construction projects.

Communication Process

”Communication is the activity or process of expressing ideas and feelings or of giving people information.” (Oxford Dictionary 2009)

Betts (1991) states that information in construction projects is diverse in terms of its form, its subject and its source. The information that is available also differs with regard to its currency, accuracy, adequacy and relevance. Emmitt and Gorse (2003) add to this, stating that communication and information management is a prime activity in construction. The entire construction process relies on vast quantities of information being generated, transmitted and interpreted to enable a project to be built, maintained and reused. This is backed up by Winch (2009) who states that information flows are the heart of business process in all organisations.

Based on this, communication can be a complex process especially in project oriented organisations. This is why it is essential that before effective communication can be explored, one must understand the process of communication. Thomas, Tucker & Kelly (1998), say that there is a common set of elements essential to an understanding of communication. Emmitt and Gorse (2003) state that the process method sees communication as the transmission of messages, through which one person or parties seek to influence the behaviour or state of mind of the other. They also add that for communication to be effective the message must first be received and then understood by the receiver.

Thomas, Tucker & Kelly (1998) also explain that the communication process consists of a ‘Sender’ and the ‘Receiver’. The sender acts as the originator of the communication and knows best the intended idea; therefore the sender must encode the idea into the message that is to be sent. Comprehension of the message by the receiver depends on a number of factors including how much the individual knows about the topic, the relationship and trust that exists between the sender and the receiver. And the receiver’s understanding and perception of the information being conveyed. Emmitt and Gorse (2003) have also recognised that there often more than one receiver of the message. Thomas, Tucker & Kelly (1998) complete this by adding that the message is the encoded idea being transmitted and can be verbal or non verbal. Emmitt and Gorse (2003) explain effective communication is complete when this process is carried out successfully where the sender and receiver achieve a common understanding.

Clampitt (2005) discussed the arrow approach where communication is ‘rather like shooting an arrow at a target’ and is ‘seen as a one-way activity based primarily on the skills of the sender’. Harley (1999) also discusses this understanding of communication process and adds his theory supporting Calmpitt in his 1st addition, with a fundamental belief is that ‘Effective Expression = Effective Communication’.

Winch (2009) states that all organisations are in essence information processing systems. Communication methods implemented in a project oriented organisations all transfer information from one face to another. Winch (2009) explains that the problems in construction projects arise when ineffective communication causes a poor information flow which results in inconsistencies in the project.

Emmitt and Gorse (2003) also state that the people build and these people must communicate with one another effectively in order to achieve their common objective.

Communication inconsistencies

Emmitt and Gorse (2003) believe that communication barriers are evident whenever people meet. They state that trust and the relationship between two communicating parties is very important in ensuring effective communication.

Bowen and Edwards (1996) recognise that one of the major barriers to effective communication is in the way of a ‘gatekeeper.’ A gatekeeper is used to describe the behaviour of an individual who withholds or alters information as it passes him or her. Emmitt and Gorse (2003). Bowen and Edwards (1996) expand on this idea by stating that message distortion is likely to occur where there is an absence of direct communication.

Emmitt and Gorse (2003) explain that new IT technologies are welcome, as they provide a convenient tool through which organisations use to transmit, store and access vast quantities of information very rapidly. However, they explain that industry now focus too much on the power and speed of the systems and not enough on the message being transmitted, or the requirements of the users.

Winch (2002) has compared and explained that when the interfaces between systems were paper backed systems, it does not matter that different formats were used to create the message. However, when computers started to communicate directly with one another this has become a problem. As it is often seen that the receiver is unable to read the information because the sender has sent it in a different format. This has now become a new problem.

Alternatives in Communications

Different methods of communications

Verbal and non verbal communication- effectiveness of both, different circumstances.

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