Stop Already

emailI had been planning to write something really technical and boring about scalability, but then I read in Dorothy’s blog last week about ⅓ of our time being wasted (my word) looking for our lost things. Wow. That’s really sad.

Then I heard that one of our newest clients was asking at the end of each training session “we can still use email, right?”  (And the trainer would sigh and reply: “Yes, of course”). It is a good thing they don’t let me near those classes, because I would feel obligated to add “but only if you are a fool.”

You see, email is the perfect place to lose your stuff.  It is not the right tool for storing important business information.

Even worse, email is incapable of capturing one version of the truth. So when you do (finally) find something, you have to keep searching to have any sense of certainty that you found the currently applicable information–and not something that has been replaced. Oh, and you might not have looked quite hard enough.

Chaos! I don’t like chaos.

So I came up with this little vignette in the hope that it will make the contrast more evident between using software such as the Spitfire Project Management System versus email: Let’s say that during a site visit you discover that a sub-par sub has used inferior materials. Of course, in order to write them up you must be sure that they had the right drawings and specs in a timely fashion.

Smart Way

Old Way

Were they sent these Files?

Were they sent these Files?

You open the contract in the system and the drawings and specs are attached.

You search email for when you sent them the drawings and specs. When was that exactly?

Did they get these Files?

Did they get these Files?

The system has recorded that the contractor downloaded the files the morning after they were sent.

You assume so….email always works, right?

When did they sign the contract?

When did they sign the contract?

The executed contract is in the system, timestamped later that day–they definitely had the specs before executing.

You search email and finally find a PDF of the executed contract. The date on the signature line is chicken scratch so you can’t be sure if it was before or after the specs were sent.

Time to put a hold on payments!

Better put a hold on payments!

You add a PM Hold compliance item to the contract. All upcoming payments will be blocked, automatically!

You send an email to accounting and the PA to ask them to try and remember not to pay the contractor until things get straightened out.

What’s our exposure to liability with this contractor on other projects?

What’s our exposure to liability with this contractor on other projects?

A quick search of the system catalog for contracts executed with this contractor in the past 18 months reveals work on 2 other projects–one has not yet begun! You send those project teams a notification.

You have no clue…so you type an email to the other PMs and accounting. Maybe someone will read it and have time to bother looking.

Which way seems more productive to you?

 

This entry was posted in Construction Industry, Data tracking, Project Management and tagged by Stan York. Bookmark the permalink.

About Stan York

Stan York (VP of Development at Spitfire) has been developing software for decades. Which means he's old enough to remember when punched cards where the state of the art UI. Stan makes no secret about the fact he often prefers data to people, so it should come as no surprise that he is an expert in databases and SQL server. If asked, he might admit he is an MCP, because he knows this is important to some people, particularly at Microsoft. The postings on this site are his own and don’t necessarily represent Spitfire's positions, strategies or opinions.

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