Collaboration and communication is of paramount importance when it comes to working on a project. Whether you are an engineering firm collaborating with another to complete a larger overall project, or a niche manufacturer working alongside your client, it is important for both to consider the other’s input, and potential for advancing the development of the project, while remaining understanding of each other’s individual opinions.
It can be a hugely rewarding experience, and invaluable for the growth of a project, however there are of course aspects that need considering to ensure that you are getting the most from your collaborative experience.
In any collaborative project, it is vital to make sure that you work alongside your customer. The adage, the customer is always right, may hold weight when it comes to their perception of your service, but sometimes a client’s dreams can be bigger than “the possible”. While working closely with the customer is of paramount importance to guarantee that the project is bespoke to their requests, it is also your responsibility to manage their expectations.
If there are limitations to the design and the implementation, it’s essential to remember that you’re the expert; how you explain this is the key to maintaining the positive relationship with your client. Being versatile to their needs is of course essential, but being true to the project, your reputation and your specialist knowledge is the way to ensure your project is a success.
When it comes to collaborating with other industry professionals, one of the greatest aspects is the potential for learning new skills, techniques, and the sharing of ideas. Not only that, there may be one element of the project that sits just outside your skillset; through working alongside another company, you are able to benefit from their experience and utilise the specialist skills.
One such example came when Durham Cathedral necessitated the installation of an elevator. The original firm who were involved with the overall structural maintenance of the cathedral, contacted a specialist elevator installer, Axess2, in order to utilise their expertise. In doing so they displayed some key elements of collaboration; understanding their own limitations whilst realising the potential of others.
They were able to utilise the skills of both experts, collaborating on the installation, while simultaneously ensuring the protection of the stunning Grade I listed building. Through contacting the specialist elevator installers, they were able to guarantee the preservation of the cathedral, while sharing each of their avenues of expertise to ensure a streamlined process, utilising each team’s skills to the utmost ability.
The project mentioned previously came with incredibly tight restrictions, such as the lift that had to be installed needed to be specifically tailored to the original architecture. The lift also needed to interact with the building in the correct ways; one of the solutions was that the lift that was install was made entirely out of glass, so the people that will be using the lift will be able to see the beautiful architecture of the cathedral from all angles. This knowledge is something that wouldn’t necessarily be shared if they original architects were to undertake the assignment on their own.
As such, collaboration is incredibly important to any party that is involved, and it won’t be changing anytime soon. In fact, some clients prefer to have their projects completed by collaborating parties since, as they say, two minds are always better than one.
So, while it’s important to consider your potential for benefitting from such expertise, it’s also paramount to understand if they present an opposing view. Trusting that you’ve selected the perfect team for the job helps to provide confidence in any views expressed, and such respect leads to a nurturing of trust and opens the door for future collaborations.