With the advent of enterprise social networking and cloud tools (Yammer, Socialcast, et al), I wonder if now is the time for AEC firms to join the revolution. Socially connected teams of many types, beyond just sales teams as perhaps were the first discipline that created a market for social enterprise solutions, have been proven to achieve results faster by tapping into the network benefits and knowledge sharing in real-time to complete work.
It seems the need of higher connectivity across a team and disciplines will especially grow as project owners opt for alternative delivery mechanisms such as design/build or public private partnerships. Decision latency will not be tolerated as the competitive environment escalates around how designers and contractors can cross the aisle to achieve more construct-able designs with fewer RFIs and CO’s to protract schedules and budgets!
The greatest obstacle that I see to this is that design/engineering professionals are currently motivated now to maximize their bill-ability. This is encouraged by the fact that the projects they work on, since project inception, has carefully been divvied up into tasks that are tied to the project cost plan/budget. Those tasks are tied to an available pot of budget that this professional can live off of. Since high-bill-ability is the holy grail in fee-based design firms, professionals are loathe to increase productivity or to share any of the task with a peer that might be better qualified than them, both of which cut into their share of billable time and could leave them idle (un-billable) as they wait for the next project. Additionally, if they finish the task ahead of time, it leaves budget on the table.
Certainly, project managers with a long-term vision of satisfying their clients can find a way, presumably if they were better connected to the task, to turn that increased productivity of their team into higher quality deliverable s. Take the budget money off the table, consume the task, and crush the competition by providing something that pleases and delights their client. I’m also willing to bet that the task lead, who before was pacing themselves to consumer the task budget, will feel more motivated, challenged, and able to grow professionally as a result of collaboration with their larger group of peers. Certainly, they have a chance to be recognized in this way for innovations and team work. Let’s face it, these are professional traits that are the new gold standard in the present job market.
There’s also so much opportunity to consider when it comes to PM/Client communications enhanced by social tools. Interactions drive customer satisfaction and loyalty–and, ultimately, success in sales. Of course it begs the question? Are PM’s interested in upping the transparency of their projects to their clients through real-time reporting and tracking? I posit that the owners will be very soon asking for this level of interaction, so best to prepare.
It’s time for the AEC organization to cross the social divide!
Here’s are other posts or papers on the topic!
For many employees today, collaborative, complex problem solving is the essence of their work. These “tacit” activities–involving the exchange of information, the making of judgments, and a need to draw on multifaceted forms of knowledge in exchanges with coworkers, customers, and suppliers–are increasinly a part of the standar model for companies in the developed world. Managing in an environment where most workers mainly participate in interaction will upend the greater part of what senior mangaement has learned over the past half century.
And some words by Salesforce CEO and Social industry leader: