Take The Seat Marked Owner” At The Table”

I recently had a conversation with the Director of Construction for a school district here in Texas. He and his team are facing a mountain of work over the next few years thanks to the recent passage of a school bond.

He had been put in contact with us by a colleague from another school district that uses Owner Insite for construction project management software. Despite the high praise and recommendation from our client, I could sense a fair bit of skepticism on his part as we spoke. 

I tend to be a straight shooter, sometimes to a fault. Despite his inquisitive questions I couldn’t help but feel a fair bit of reluctance on what our software could actually do for him and his team. So rather than guess why he may not be buying what I might be selling, I straight up asked him what his concerns were.

Suddenly and without a moments hesitation he blurted out, “I worry software like this will piss off my contractor.” Ahh…now we are getting somewhere.

As he shared his concerns he explained that the district has generally used the same 2-3 contractors for all of their projects in the past. They also have a pretty good relationship with the architect as well and he feared that introducing a construction management software that he would require them to use would be a huge slap in the face; as if he didn’t trust them or something.

He shared a common concern we hear from a lot of folks we meet who occupy the role of owner in a construction project.

It’s a valid concern. I mean if you have previous experience with a contractor, architect or even a project manager, why would you as the owner need to worry about having your own software. He said, “They have their own software that they use to document everything and we can have access any time we like.”

There is some truth to that.

But as the Owner, is he really getting everything that he should be getting? No one really knows. I highly suspect that he and his team only get what their project stakeholders absolutely feel compelled to share with them. And that is the big problem.

Every member of a construction team that is selected to work on construction of any kind will likely show up wanting to use processes, procedures, documentation and of course, software, that they already use and are comfortable with. We can’t fault them for that. However their approach to documentation and management of the owner’s data may not necessarily be as structured or as focused as it should be.

As the owner, the construction data, that key information that is allowed to be managed and controlled by other people is not really yours. Therein lies the big problem.

It is our strong belief that no data should ever be sequestered from an owner. Every document, design change, budget request or relevant email should be easily accessible by the owner. Especially a school district.

Having a “Single source of truth” for the entire project team to document, track and manage all the construction project data is the only way the owner can insure they remain informed and on top all that is happening within their project. An owner-focused software like Owner Insite and a few (very few) others in the market, give control and visibility back to the one seat at the table that should have it – the owner.

Talk to any construction lawyer and they will tell you, if things go bad, he who owns the data has a better chance of enforcing a contract, receiving remedy or winning in court. If an owner abdicates control, management and lets face it, OWNERSHIP, of the construction data, it’s a recipe for disaster.

No matter whether you are a K-12 school district, private institution or the owner of a commercial construction project, you should have unfiltered visibility into every aspect of your project. That visibility allows you to stay informed, up-to-date and reliably confident that you’ve put your own process, approach and document tracking expectations in place for your organization to take the seat marked owner at the head of the table.

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