Highlights from a recent conversation with Cromwell Architects Engineers Chief Operating Officer Daniel K. Fowler, AIA
If you’ve tried in vain to institute strict project administration procedures at your firm, you probably know the simple reason: Your colleagues would rather be doing their “real” work.
This reality was driven home to us in a recent conversation with Dan Fowler, the chief operating officer of Cromwell Architects Engineers in Little Rock, Arkansas.
“Our CA managers spend their entire days doing contract administration,” Dan said. “That’s their job, so they follow the procedures we set up in Lotus Notes. But everyone else has to do actual project work, and they consider administrative tasks to be secondary. We found it difficult to get project people out of “doing mode” and into a mindset to use the tools for data management we had developed.”
Dan’s remarks pretty much capture the sentiment we’ve heard in scores of AEC firms, which may be summed up as, “We got into this business to design, engineer and build things, and that’s what we come to work to do. We don’t want to spend our days filing emails, logging transmittals, responding to RFIs, tracking submittals and generating reports.”
The exception occurs when filing, logging, tracking and reporting are super-simple to do
“Newforma Project Center grabbed us right away because it has core components that have been specifically developed to help firms like ours,” Dan said. “For example, file sharing – Newforma Info Exchange – is great right out of the box.
“We had been struggling with our FTP site and the way we exchange files with clients, business partners and government agencies,” Dan said. “FTP was cumbersome and hard to navigate by us, let alone by people outside the office. The demonstration of Newforma Info Exchange made everyone say, ‘Let’s get it just for that.’”
Dan had similar things to say about Newforma Project Center’s contribution to filing email, finding information in any file type, managing files and more.
“One reason the Newforma software has been so easy to adopt is because it provides an immediate return on effort and allows us to continue using our existing work processes,” Dan said. “For example, we use the same processes to file email with Newforma Project Center that we used with Lotus Notes, which is to either put a project email address in the Cc line, or drag and drop the email to a project folder in Notes. Nobody has to learn a new process.”
And that’s how you get project workers who are not full-time managers to do the “paperwork” that every job demands. Make it so easy that it doesn’t seem like a distraction from the work they woke up that day to do.
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