E03.02 Inter-Team Coordination: The Basics

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There is a popular idea that by giving one consulting firm a number of disciplines, they will do better internal coordination, and create fewer problems for the lead consultant and the client. Unfortunately, this usually doesn’t work. Despite statements in websites extolling the virtues of one-stop shopping, experience is that intra-team coordination between different disciplines is often little better than coordinating separate consultants.

If you are the lead consultant, the safest way is to assume that different disciplines in a consultant office live in their separate silos, and will require the same degree of coordination as if they were separate companies. If not the case, it’s a plus.

To sum up a half-century of experience coordinating teams, it comes down to just 5 principles:

  1. Lead consultant sets the framework for coordination.
  2. This structure must find out from each consultant which other consultants THEY need to coordinate with.
  3. This structure must facilitate direct coordination between all of those “pairs” where coordination is required. The facilitation includes ensuring that all involved get the right issue of the right drawings at the time, as well as monitoring the outcome of these coordination activities. However, the responsibility for DOING the coordination is squarely with each consultant.
  4. This process will capture about 85% of the coordination required – but never all. For the rest, the lead consultant has to do it – and has to check the others’ coordination sufficiently to confirm that they really did do it.
  5. After all of the above is completed, the lead consultant needs to circulate the drawings or other documents that embody the coordination, and get sign off from each other consultant that they have verified that their needed coordination is complete.

The simple, 1-page form below is the easiest vehicle to manage the above. It’s only paper based, but it will be adequate for the majority of projects if the 5 steps above have been fully processed.

This method is a high-level solution, not a detail level solution. A highly effective detail solution exists, but it is too detailed to adequately describe in this short article. If you want to see how that could work for you, go to our iProjects website, go to the User Guides tab under the Support tab, scroll down to 4.7: Teamwork, and download the 4-page TeamWork UserGuide.

iProjects also includes a suite of excellent, time-tested consultant coordination checklists, again too much information to describe here. However, you can access these coordination checklists in the original paper-based format at D05.02. The Checkit system has been widely used in Australia since I first developed it in 1987, and it forms the basis for many Australian architects’ QM systems. Be my guest, if you think it would be useful in your firm.

Consultants Coord SShot