A Former Project Manager Reflects on How Join Would Have Helped
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A Former Project Manager Reflects on How Join Would Have Helped

A Black experience in construction

A Join employee reflects on past experiences working in Construction.



The construction industry is known to be risky for a number of reasons. 


The work is dangerous, the assemblies and systems are extremely complicated to design and build, and the execution of work must be carefully planned and orchestrated, while maintaining a level of agility to adjust for changes.


Even a rainy day can be a bump in the road. 


Good projects can turn sideways in a matter of weeks and the doom and gloom of litigation sets in. One might be called upon to answer questions about emails, schedules, bills, RFIs or change orders, and be left reflecting introspectively: 

  • “Am I remembering this correctly?” 
  • “Was my math right?” 
  • And relief when they realize “We have the receipts!”


In addition to the financial repercussions of construction claims, the experience is miserable for the people having to dealing with it. What I find particularly alarming is how common the experience is. Why do we allow this?


It can be grueling to learn that a relentless project that spanned over a year of your life is resulting in a new level of chaos just when you think it’s the finish line. Suddenly, you have to answer intimidating questions about every facet of the project. At times, this can feel as laughable as a reunion show of the real housewives - comical, but demotivating nonetheless. Inevitably, an “Us vs Them” mentality is created that’s difficult to shake for projects to come. 


Perhaps the worst aspect of the entire experience of dealing with a claim is learning how prevalent they are. The general sentiment around the office is “Oh, you’ll be better off after this experience.” What they actually mean is that soon you’ll develop the CYA mentality too. Or you’ll hear, “oh it’s not a big deal, I’ve done dozens of depositions…” This is translated to: you better get used to it because this is the first of many. 


For newcomers in the industry, this feels crazy! Courtrooms and depositions are for crooks and scoundrels, not a self-proclaimed “nerd” who happens to appreciate the differences between steel and aluminum. 


Why does this happen?


Given the amount of work for a project, it makes sense how conflict arises. 


A general contractor alone could have 30+ contracts in place on a single project. The team could be getting 200+ emails on a daily basis. With so much to juggle, there’s a nearly endless number of risks to deal with: liens, bankruptcy, delays, injuries, leaks, existing conditions, etc. There’s a lot that can go wrong at any turn of the project.


Perhaps the next question to ask yourself is, “how did WE end up here?” Was it the scope creep of more than 20% of the original contract value? Was it the fact that the design team was twice as big as a typical project of this size, doubling the submittal stakeholders and time to resolution? Perhaps it was the specification for PT-02 that took 4 months of back and forth. Or was it the 3rd redesign of the north egress stair? 


The answer is not always singular. Often it’s actually “death by a thousand paper cuts”. Work is rushed, answers are delayed, instruction and execution are inconsistent, responsibility is fragmented with little communication and accountability throughout. 


While responding to claims, you will learn new words, like “contemporaneous,” such as when the crane permit isn’t approved yet and the materials are delayed… who’s at fault for that? In reflecting on what went wrong, it’s pretty much a guarantee that we lost the trust and transparency of the client along the way.


How do we fix it?

At this point, you might have guessed I’m drawing from past experiences. I’ve been there. If any part of this content resonates with you, then I think you’d also like to hear why Join is so interesting to me as a previous Planner/Scheduler/Project Manager. 


I truly believe that with Join, outcomes would have been better. Particularly in these three facets: 

  1. Building trust and transparency 
  2. Reducing time to resolution for complex issues
  3. Using Historical data to make better decisions 


Join aims to reduce the likelihood of ending up in a claim scenario with the following features:


Target budgets

Join’s platform fosters an environment of trust and transparency from project conception. It all starts with an owner providing their first target “budget” for the project. This single document (or in some cases just a lump sum value) is the cornerstone to most reports in Join. It serves as a constant reminder for alignment over the team's common goal, closing the budget gap. Everyone can see where we started and where we’re trending. 


Collaboration platform at its core

It’s common to see that several of the issues at the close of the project were brought up at the beginning of the project. So why weren’t they resolved? Cross-functional collaboration is at the forefront of Join. It has proven to reduce time to resolution on complex problems. 

Showcasing work previously hidden behind the scenes

Join highlights all the work/coordination that was previously done behind the scenes through various email chains, and phone calls. Item history and meetings are a great place to showcase this work leading to a more respect for the work being done and building trust and transparency. 


Item Categorization

Join allows items to be categorized (pre-set or custom). This categorization is used in preconstruction and can continue into execution too. A couple examples I’ve seen that greatly improve project outcomes include:

  • See ideas by “priority” - priority does not always correlate to the cost of an item. Using this category creates urgency around the topics that matter in the moment, rather than wasting time on lower priority, less impactful topics. 
  • See ideas by “level of accuracy” - transparency in how accurate a number might be at a given time. The status could include: ROM (rough order of magnitude), takeoff, subcontractor estimate, hard bid, etc. Each of which are worth documenting and considering, but not all can be used as backup to write a contract. 
  • See ideas by “reason for change” - this helps everyone! Not just a GC. Think about how confident an Owner can be going into their next project knowing they can pull all their previous ideas/additions to review prior. Even better, with Join it’s easy to pull what a GC learned (or even missed) on their last project and put that into action on future ones.

Join Forecasting

Companies have tons of past data, but no easy way of utilizing it! Join Forecasting brings the historical data to your fingertips (literally). With Join, you can spend less time developing conceptual budgets by pulling in similar projects, adjusting for escalation, and aligning with your project scope.


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