Information is power.
Not just for the Owner but for the entire construction team. In fact, you might say it's the foundation for a good construction project process and outcome.
The problem most construction projects have is the lack of having "one single source of truth" for all the information to be collected and stored. The #1 source to observe and understand the progress that has been made. The #1 source to go to when any member of the team has a question. The #1 source to identify the right resources to engage when an issue or a problem arises. The #1 source is the placeholder for all the important and seemingly mundane information on a construction project.
So why do so many projects fail to have that single source of truth for their construction project?
Because the Owner didn't insist on having a process or a system to be the #1 source for their project and construction team.
Revisiting the story of Tom from the first blog post in this series for a minute might shed some light on why project management software is important for everyone, not just the owner.
Tom's issue, a foundation crack, all started because there was a lack of communication and proper documentation at a critical stage of the project. Tom's Executive Director at the time was getting antsy about how long it was taking to get the project started. He began to put pressure on the contractor, constantly reminding them that they had a deadline for opening the facility during the summer. Then the rains came. An unusually wet fall and early winter started to back up the construction schedule for laying the foundation.
According to the contractor they were pressured to pour the concrete despite the rainy weather. The now former executive director says this isn't true and he was unaware of any issues that the weather might cause. There was no clear communication about either party's story because they were not operating in a transparent environment where questions, concerns and proper documentation could be reviewed to see who was telling the truth.
Tom will be the first to admit, he knows these conversations about timelines and schedules happened. He also admits that they were putting a fair bit of pressure on the contractor to make a targeted date for opening. He acknowledges that these conversations were never properly documented nor were any "concerns" that the contractor now states he raised, ever discussed.
Documentation whether it be an RFI, a daily construction report, an issue or even just a single email which encapsulates a conversation between two parties I think we can all agree is critical to have, maintain and preserve.
If any issue which may have a time, money or potential legal impact on a project comes up it needs to be documented - period.
Was the contractor instructed to pour the foundation despite being advised it wasn't a good idea? Probably. Did the contractor document their concerns in a manner that brought visibility to the issues, in a public and visible manner? In this case the answer appears to be no.
So who is at fault here?
Several hundred thousand dollars later both parties are still fighting it out in court and only a judge and jury will determine that. One thing is for sure, neither party helped themselves because they both failed to properly document the conversations that took place, the directives that were given nor the concerns that were raised and possibly ignored.
Proper documentation would without question be someone's get out of jail free card.
If only they had the forethought to have required it and had a place to maintain it.
Without properly documented information everything is open to interpretation. Interpretation is where things almost always go off track. Off track projects cost owners untold fortunes, unnecessary stress and put good companies out of business.
Problems like the one Tom's organization has experienced are avoidable. If Tom and his team had insisted on using something, anything, to capture critical information and data on their construction project they might have avoided this situation entirely.
Hindsight is always 20/20 right?
In our next post, we'll finish this series on "Why Owners Need Their Own Construction Software" by covering some important strategies Owners need to utilize before starting their next construction project. We'll discuss why not having these strategies in place an Owner is playing Russian Roulette with their money and their future.
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