Why you can’t rely only on WhatsApp and Excel for delivering successful projects in construction
Updated: Jan 22
What makes WhatsApp so popular is how easy it is to exchange messages and photos with your connections. A user can be either the admin or the participant to a number of WhatsApp groups and communicate differently depending on the members and the scope of each group.
But what about using WhatsApp in your construction projects? Could that work?
The short answer is no. Good as it is, WhatsApp isn’t enough for running complex construction projects. And we can explain why:
1. WhatsApp isn’t tailored for construction:
Tools like WhatsApp and Excel might be great for other occasions but they can’t offer you the site visibility that you are after. More analytically:
They don’t provide a shareable, onsite “live” view of the project.
The data shared through them lacks the connection to the master plan. This makes it hard for people to see where things are overall and what tasks are progressing, what’s coming next, and who has ownership of what.
Information is dispersed on many different platforms hindering the reporting process.
It quickly becomes clear that using the wrong tools can really impact your lookahead planning. Your teams will have no real-time insight into the project and there will be no clarity on who’s accountable for what leading to slow and dysfunctional decision making.
2. There isn’t a single source of truth:
Project Managers spend almost 40% of their time chasing updates or creating endless reports. But it shouldn’t be like that.
There is no reason for project teams to get trapped in meetings that take way longer than necessary just because many of the participants lack visibility over what’s happening on the site. This only generates even more mistrust between the different teams and fuels the culture of blame across the supply chain. That’s the last thing you want as a Project Manager.
And this is why next time you start thinking of your lookahead planning you need to take a moment and see whether you could spend less time on your administrative tasks by establishing a single and continuously updated source of truth. No matter how great tools WhatsApp and Excel are, they can’t help you with that.
3. Standardization is impossible:
80% of the process is always the same. So standardizing the way you design, collaborate, and eventually build is a valid option. More importantly, it will take a lot of pressure off your shoulders, help you prevent mistakes before they appear, and flag critical problems at an early stage.
To achieve that, you need a construction-specific tool that will help you manage a large amount of historical data so that you can gradually identify the development pattern of your projects and put together an effective plan of action.
This is a very sensitive process that a tool like WhatsApp isn’t able to support. The reason is, of course, the absence of a single source of truth where information can be easily linked to specific tasks.
4. Your projects are vulnerable to claims:
Documentation in construction is always key. As a Project Manager, you should be able to retrieve critical information at any time so that you can efficiently respond to claims in your projects. When you resort to tools such as WhatsApp and Excel that can be tough.
Read also: How to manage claims in construction more efficiently
On the contrary, by relying on a digital solution that is built for construction (e.g. LetsBuild) you can keep your projects protected against claims thanks to the following benefits:
Full alignment between the Project Manager and the Site Foreman
Instantaneous recovery of information without drowning in admin tasks
Seamless communication between all project stakeholders
Increased accountability and task ownership
5. No connection to the plan
Regardless of the size or the type of your construction projects, one thing is for sure. All your tools should be connected to the plan in real time ensuring that no information is lost or delivered late.
WhatsApp might be an excellent tool for delivering your information in real time but there is one serious problem. The data you share through WhatsApp (or Excel, email etc.) is connected neither to the 3-6 week schedule nor to the master plan.
That small but crucial detail makes it impossible both for you, as a Project Manager, and your team to assess the importance of an update the moment you receive it. And that’s something that only an app that is built for construction can offer to you