Yes, you should take charge.
During a recent conversation with a large healthcare institution, who by the way, called us to inquire about our software, we ran into a problem. Actually a couple of problems.
Let me explain.
When they called they shared what they wanted and I quote – “We want a comprehensive tracking software that the entire project team can put their information into so we can stop being in the dark on these projects.”
To which we responded, “You’ve come to the right place! Owner Insite is a comprehensive communication tool for tracking all of your project data and even the project budget.”
They said, “Sweet! Where have you been all of my life?” We said, “In Austin???”
We were off to a lovely start but then the problems started.
The first concern they raised was they were concerned that enforcing the use of the software would make them look like they were overstepping their bounds. What!?! We had to remind them they were the owner. Numero uno. The big cheese. Top banana. THE ONES PAYING THE BILLS.
They just stared at us. Blinking. (It was over a Zoom call so we could see the blinking).
They were worried that maybe some of the stakeholders and even some of their own project managers “might be embarrassed.” Translation: they knew some of these folks were being paid to do a job but weren’t doing that job and that our software would basically make it hard to hide from the fact they were not doing their job.
Somehow they felt bad that they were being taken advantage of but yet didn’t want to embarrass anyone. What!?!
We asked them, wouldn’t having visibility into who was slacking and who was not be a good thing? Because it could help them get those unmotivated people motivated and start doing some actual work. There were smiles as each of them looked off in the distance as if dreaming of some Utopian world they wished they lived in.
They said they agreed but all acknowledged in the end having that conversation “Would be awkward.”
Followed by more blinking.
They wanted to engage the software and allow people to use it only if they wanted but not force them to use it. When we explained that this would be a challenge because in order for their organization to get the full benefit of what the software does for them, it would require their team’s participation. You know, like all of their participation.
I reminded them we’d train everyone and help them learn the software and how great it is for them. To which they replied, “We don’t know if they’d want to use it.” Of course they won’t want to use it without the owner sort of requiring it. So we suggested that.
“But we can’t make them use our software. Can we?”
And with that, we had our opening.
It is actually quite shocking to hear what unfolded above. You might think this is a rare occasion but you would be surprised. Conversations like this happen for us nearly every single week.
An Owner who has finally reached a breaking point decides they need their own software to keep them better informed on their projects. You know, the ones they are paying for it. Yet, when it comes down to how a tool like Owner Insite might get used, people get nervous. Almost to the point of paralysis.
Here’s the deal folks, if you are building anything of substance the investment you are making is substantial. You probably have all the best intentions when you pick your architect, engineer, contractor and even consultants. But you are in charge. You the head honcho and you call the shots.
Like Dalton in Road House (one of our team’s favorite movies from 1989) what you say goes. If they don’t like they can “take the train!”
Owners are perpetually left in the dark and that’s where the problems start. Projects get off schedule, money gets out of hand with budget overruns and shortcuts are taken. Why? Because the owner doesn’t require that every last piece of project communication, data and budget changes are documented, tracked and managed in a system like Owner Insite.
So here’s the cliff notes to how we shared the solutions to the three problems above.
#1 As the owner you set the boundaries and make the rules. You are writing the check and therefore you call the shots. Every single stakeholder that you hire works for you.
#2 If you have people who aren’t working, they should be embarrassed because that’s just plain wrong not to mention unprofessional. Our software will provide transparency and accountability and believe it or not people don’t like being the obvious weak link. They either suddenly start showing up and working or they make it easy to replace them.
#3 We suggest to all of our owners that they put the use of Owner Insite into every contract. We even have suggested contractual language we share. This ensures that no one ducts their responsibility and that the owner has the best enforcement tool in the world, the contract that everyone has signed and agreed to.
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