Commentary, Contract Administration, FIVE by StatsLog

Alright Stop, Collaborate and Listen!

Collaboration is being pitched as an approach to integrate the diverse, and often divergent demands of a project team into a single vision. It’s a commendable goal, but most of software solutions that claim to help are centralized systems under the control and management of the developer or contractor. At the end of the day though, it is the design professional who is on the hook in terms of liability for the job – meaning it is in the design professional’s best interest to be in control of the project data.

StatsLog Software turns 35 years old this month, and we offer a cutting-edge database management system with its own twist on collaboration. One that respects the different points of view of the project participants, while creating a single vision of the project by documenting team decisions – all within the control and purview of the design professional.

StatsLog’s goal this year is to restate the purpose of contract administration as a relevant, efficient, and flexible way to document the decision-making process of a project team during the build phase of the work. Traditionally this was a process limited to the AEC industry, but I think effective contract administration based on tried-and-true techniques and principles can benefit even non-construction work like large IT projects.

As part of our goal to push efficient and effective contract administration back into the spotlight, StatsLog will be launching some new initiatives this year.

Out-of-the-Box (OOTB) is a new sample project for FIVE with a complete set of form templates that integrate detailed change descriptions with an automated process for data capture, storage, publishing, and retrieval. This process was designed for use by design professionals of all disciplines as part of their contract administration services. We’ve also engaged a third-party to publish a series of handbooks outlining the purpose of – and strategies for – effective contract administration.

We believe the above initiatives are important. When contract administration is not performed effectively, the results can be incredibly costly. I point to two recent major projects in Canada that have become notorious for their loss of control. 

The first is an IT project called Phoenix, which was supposed to use off-the-shelf software to quickly deliver a modern payroll system to the government of Canada. A decade since it’s inception, and hundreds of millions over budget, that goal has still not been realized and a replacement system is in the works.

The second is Muskrat Falls, a Hydro-Electric Dam in Newfoundland-Labrador. It was supposed to quickly supply cheap power to the grid of that province, but again it has gone years and billions of dollars past estimates.

I have no special access to either of these projects, but most public accounts paint a similar picture of how top-down processes failed to recognize complexity soon enough and missed opportunities to produce alternatives or implement remedial actions.

Time has proven top-down collaborative alternatives to be a false economy, especially for the design professional. For decades, StatsLog has provided sophisticated processes to efficiently document changes to the contract work for some of Canada’s leading design professions and construction projects. Our processes are very similar to processes that worked for decades prior in a paper-based world but are much more efficient using modern technology combined with StatsLog’s unique CA workflow.

Unlike accounting software, StatsLog gives you access to more than just a transaction history. With FIVE, the full “who, what, why, where, and when?” of project related documents, communications, and events are available at your fingertips, ensuring you can satisfy even the most distressed clients, and most demanding legal discoveries and public inquiries. If your project hopes to benefit from a collaboration of ideas and personalities, a well-documented trail of decisions and approvals is the best approach.

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