Four Tips For Effective & Efficient Project Collaboration

It takes a team of people, each coming to the table with their own specialized set of skills and expertise, to plan, oversee, and execute a successful construction project. With decades of experience working with teams to complete a wide range of projects, Daniel Connolly, PE and founder/owner of Connolly Engineering, PLLC has a firm grip on what works.

“For a project to be executed well, it takes careful planning, talent, and collaboration among all parties involved. When dealing with something as specialized and complicated as construction is, each team member must be well versed in their area of expertise and be willing to work cooperatively with the rest of the team. The same principles we learned as kids about working in a group can still be applied today,” said Connolly.


Team roles and responsibilities will differ depending on the scope of the project, but a standard project construction team consists of the following:


Often the owner or developer, the client is the person or company responsible for the structure build. The aesthetic and functional needs for the building are usually defined and driven by the client.


The architect typically works most closely with the client. The architect takes on a leadership role throughout the process, developing the building design, hiring the majority of the project team, and guiding the client on product selection. If a project manager (see description below) is not needed, the architect is responsible for the process from start to finish.

Engineer (That’s us!):

Working closely with the architect will be a range of engineers responsible for structural, mechanical, and electrical design. Engineers are integral to ensuring the functionality, safety, and durability of a building.


Following the architect and engineers’ designs, the contractor oversees and manages the construction of the building. Sometimes the lead contractor will hire and work with subcontractors depending on their specialty trades, experience, price, availability, etc.

Project Manager:

Depending on size and scope, the project manager oversees the planning, management, and completion of the construction project. This includes details such as schedule, budget, and workers. In some cases, the architect may take on project manager roles and responsibilities.

Specialist Consultants:

Specialist consultants may be part of a construction team to lend expertise on a particular subject such as sustainability, acoustics, or security.


With experience working as a civil and structural engineer on a wide range of projects, Connolly shares some of his best practices for efficient project collaboration.

Get ahead.

Even before the design phase begins, a lot of pre-planning must happen. Being organized from the start sets the tone for how the group will work together and how productive, organized, and enjoyable the process will be.

“My team has done a lot of work in the Virgin Islands in the past. We relied on email for our planning and communication,” says Connolly. Technology like Zoom has now made it a lot easier to collaborate in the very early stages of a project.”

Preparation for design, pre-construction, roles, and responsibilities, etc. requires a lot of time and careful planning. However, the more time spent doing so will create a high standard of excellence moving forward.

A project kickoff meeting will inform team members on project details, considerations, and concerns. Kickoff meetings are perfect for establishing timelines, budgets, and milestones to meet.

Unforeseen challenges with construction projects are bound to happen. Proactive planning for what can be controlled is critical.

Manage and educate the client

The goals of the client directly drive the entire project. It is the responsibility of each team member to ensure that the client’s needs are met at every stage of the construction process.

From the beginning, the client must be informed and aware of every detail that will affect the project. From budget and product considerations to timing and deadlines, the client must understand the process and have his/her expectations managed.

“A project can easily be derailed if a client has unrealistic expectations, and the team has not taken the time to educate them. I know the goal is always to keep the client happy, but this might mean delivering news they don’t want to hear,” stated Connolly.

Research indicates that going over budget is the number one issue for most modern construction projects. It is critical, to be honest with your client about what can realistically be achieved given their budget.

All team members need to be solution-focused and ready to present alternative solutions should a problem arise.

Over Communicate

Communication is the foundation of any successful relationship, but it’s critical when it comes to construction projects.

Studies show that poor communication in the construction industry is a major issue. The residual effect of such deficits could create costly time and budget overruns.

The key to any successful team is to establish a constant and efficient flow of communication throughout every phase of the process is essential.

Technology has made it easier than ever for project team members to communicate consistently. Many teams use digital work execution platforms to allow for information and communication to be streamlined.

Connolly said, “Great collaboration doesn’t happen unless the team is aligned and in constant touch with each other. Have regularly scheduled meetings on-site or virtually, give each other consistent feedback, celebrate the wins, and constantly check-in.”

Take personal responsibility

Each person on the team brings his/her own experience and skill set to the project. Each stakeholder must be accountable for their expertise and take ownership of the areas they are responsible for. If a challenge arises, each team member has to draw on past issues and success to troubleshoot.

It is also helpful to make continued efforts to stay current with ever-changing laws, building codes, and other construction-related details.

Setbacks are sometimes unavoidable. Prioritizing tasks, staying organized, sticking to delivery timelines, and being flexible as needed will help with project success.


At Connolly Engineering, we pride ourselves on “playing well in the sandbox.” For over two decades, we have been active members of countless project teams responsible for the construction of many beautiful buildings around the country and abroad.

We work hard to bring our expertise and knowledge into each job, assuring that the process is enjoyable along the way.

“Construction is collaborative. It is made stronger by each member of the team exceeding expectations. With accountability, communication, and flexibility, my team and I strive to bring our A-game to everything we work on,” said Connolly.

Need civil and structural engineering from a firm who cares? Connect with Dan today.