Why WhatsApp is your worst enemy

Almost all of us use WhatsApp to communicate with our colleagues, consultants and clients.  It is easy to exchange messages.  And unlike email, you’re more likely to get a quicker response.  Which is a good thing right?  Wrong!


Posted by Lara Dudley

10 min read

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Image by Andrej Lišakov

In a nutshell

  • WhatsApp perpetuates a vicious cycle of disconnected, opaque conversations 

  • To avoid human-error and miscoordination, everyone on your team needs to be able to access the latest communication at any given time - WhatsApp can’t do this

  • To reduces errors and administrative workload make sure your team and your consultants are working on a Common Data Environment (CDE) that creates a  Single Source of Truth for everyone, anytime.

Almost all of us use WhatsApp to communicate with our colleagues, consultants and clients.  It is easy to exchange messages. And unlike email, you’re more likely to get a quicker response.  Which is a good thing right?  Wrong!


Popular as it is, WhatsApp isn’t good enough for running complex design + construction projects.  And here’s why:

1. WhatsApp isn’t tailored for construction

WhatsApp might be great for sending a birthday photo to your mum but it can’t offer you the visibility needed to make the best decisions for a construction project.

• Data lacks connection to the master model

• Data can quickly and unknowingly become “outdated”

• Data is dispersed across multiple (private) channels


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.  Your teams will have no real-time insight into the project and there will be no clarity on who’s accountable, 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 teams to get trapped in meetings that take way longer than necessary just because most people lack visibility over what’s happening in the project.


We could all spend less time on our administrative tasks if there was a continuously updated single source of truth - something WhatsApp could never be!


3.  Standardisation is impossible

80% of the process is always the same. So standardising 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 project data. 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 design + construction is always key. You should be able to retrieve critical information at any time so that you can efficiently respond to claims + requests in your projects. When you resort to tools such as WhatsApp that can be tough.


On the contrary, by relying on a digital project management system you can benefit from the following:

• 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 model

Regardless of the size or the type of your projects, one thing is for sure. All your tools should be connected to the master BIM model 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 email etc.) is connected neither to the 3-6 week schedule nor to the master model.


That small but crucial detail makes it impossible both for you  and your team to assess the importance of an update the moment you receive it. And that’s something that only a system that is built for construction can offer to you

So what is the alternative?

By now, you have a good idea of why using WhatsApp isn’t enough for successfully managing and delivering your projects.


As your projects get larger and more complex, you should start engaging more experienced and digitally-advanced architects + engineers who are not only BIM capable, but also fluent in digital project management tools to help improve collaboration and keep a single-source-of-truth for your project.


Lara Dudley, Director Of Business

Lara is a strong believer that a great project starts with a great team. And with that attitude she’s determined to staff DigitalMatter with the best talent from across Asia.