Ignore the Pilot at Your Own Risk

Whenever it is possible, within the client’s schedule, we will always recommend that a Pilot be completed at the start of any large, portfolio-wide project. A pilot is effective for any assessment or data collection project including Facility Condition Assessments (FCAs), Equipment Inventory & Tagging, Accessibility Assessments, Energy Audits, etc. A Pilot is a small-scale roll-out of the entire project methodology, which allows all stakeholders to test and confirm their assumptions and make any required course corrections early in the process.

There are a lot of factors that can and should be customized on any multisite project (costing, Uniformat II structure, templates, etc.). The best way to truly know if all these items will meet your needs is to take them out for a test drive by doing a pilot.

In terms of how many buildings to include, there is no magic number. Ultimately a pilot should try to capture a complete and representative sample of buildings. The more diverse and complex your portfolio, the more assets that should be included. In our opinion, most pilots should be between 3 and 6 buildings. Fewer than that will not be representative enough and if you do too many, you start to have a lot of data to revise if you make any scope adjustments.

If you are implementing software in conjunction with your assessment/data collection project, we recommend that you configure the software first before you do the pilot. This way, the pilot will be representative of the full-scale project. We have seen some clients want to get the pilot started right away before the software is configured and ready to go. However, there have been several instances where during configuration, the data collection scope is adjusted to address another data point. In this case, you must return to the pilot buildings at a later date to fill in the data gaps. Although it is tempting to want to rush out to site, patience generally pays off.

Once the pilot is done, it is imperative that all stakeholders involved from a client’s organization be engaged during the pilot. In fact, we recommend that the highest level of attention and scrutiny is applied during the pilot. In this way we develop the road map for a successful project and can then move into “wash, rinse, repeat” mode for the full roll-out.

Unfortunately, we have had some projects where clients did not give the pilot the attention it needed, and it created budget and schedule problems downstream. In one instance, a critical stakeholder group was not engaged early in the project. Once the project was complete, this new group was brought in and wanted to make changes to every assessment report, including a requirement to remobilize to sites to get additional data. This resulted in a schedule delay and a change order for the client. Had the entire stakeholder group been brought in at the pilot stage, we would have had to make minor adjustment to a few buildings and then got it right for the rest.

In the second example, all the right people were involved in reviewing our pilot reports. However, the client just did a cursory review and accepted the pilot reports. When we completed the entire portfolio (50 buildings) and submitted our draft reports, the client did a deeper dive into the reports. They wanted to adjust the way we presented the data in the reports. Unfortunately to do so meant significant reformatting of 50 reports, including adjustment of several calculations and graphs. Once again, this delay and change order could have been avoided had a bit more scrutiny been applied to the pilot work.

Doing a pilot is extremely valuable for any project, but only when it is done right, and the proper level of review is done before “signing off”. Hopefully we have helped you avoid some of the mistakes we have seen with other clients that have either not done a pilot or didn’t give it the attention it deserves.

Working Through the Great Resignation

As we (hopefully) are moving into the endemic phase or perhaps it’s the “live with it phase” of COVID-19, nearly every individual that I speak with has also faced challenges associated with the Great Resignation, as it has been called.

At Roth IAMS, we too saw a significant increase in turnover starting around a year ago and continuing until late last year. Luckily (and I am knocking on wood), we are hopeful that the worst is behind us.

As we were one of the lucky businesses that remained as busy as ever and in fact thrived during the pandemic (increasing our team by almost 50%), we were hiring staff regularly from June 2020. We also feel that we have taken advantage of the Great Resignation. We were lucky enough not to have had any positions go unfilled as we have ramped up our staffing even though we too were experiencing increased turn over.

I recognize that we are once again one of the lucky businesses. I know many organizations that have struggled to get applicants, let alone qualified applicants for many positions. One of our clients previously had over 200 open positions on a team of 800 staff.  Not only couldn’t they find the right people to fill the seats, but the pressure on the 800 staff was causing burn-out and increasing turn-over. Something seen across many organizations regardless of industry.

For many years it was an employer’s market. That dynamic has shifted, and I don’t see it going back anytime soon. As leaders of organizations, it is important that we focus on what we can control and not get caught up in what we cannot.

Good turn-over is when someone decides they want to change their career and there is no opportunity to do so within your organization. Good turn-over is when a colleague decides that they want to make a change to their personal life that no longer fits with their role. Good turn-over is also when someone joined your team and realized that they did not have a passion for the work. As leaders we must recognize, as much as all turn-over hurts, in the long run this type of turn-over is in the best interest of both the organization and the individuals making the change.

Regretful turn-over (assuming it is a team member that is performing well) is when people are leaving your organization and going to do the same thing for someone else. When a team sees an increase in this situation it is critical that you start to look inside the organization for ways that you can retain these individuals. What is causing these valued team members to leave? What can you do to remedy it? How can you keep them engaged? What changes do we need to make to be more attractive for both existing staff and potential new hires to replace those that left?

If you have been lucky enough to not have much regretful turn-over to-date, I would still recommend that you start a dialogue with your current team to get out ahead of it. I recently read an article in the Harvard Business Review that recommended Pre-Exit interviews, or stay interviews, where you approach your current staff to ask them why they might choose to leave and then address those issues before they decided to even start looking elsewhere. I am interested to explore this concept in collaboration with our HR team.

Organizations of all sizes are going to have to up their game in terms of employee relations to navigate the Great Resignation and whatever comes afterwards as it relates to recruitment and retention. As with everything, there will be winners and losers. I truly believe that the winners are the ones that pay the most attention to what they can control and accept that which they cannot.

A Third Path Beyond Construction and Design

Having been involved in hiring professional site assessment staff for over 20 years, I have always found it challenging to recruit staff that understand our business.

When I started Roth IAMS in 2014, one of my biggest concerns was if I would be able to find enough people to do the work that I knew was available in the market. Beyond hiring people who do similar work for other firms, there are not a lineup of people that are dreaming of becoming a professional site assessor.

We started to look at it as a pipeline issue. When people take architecture, engineering, or technician/technologist programs, they are generally presented with two future career paths, design, or construction.

We are trying to change the narrative and add a third possibility to the mix, professional site assessment or existing building specialization. Through Co-Op programs and hiring new grads fresh out of school we have been able to find some exceptional and passionate young talent that we hope will be with us for decades as they grow their careers beside us as we grow the company.

COVID-19 threw a bit of a monkey wrench into our plans. However, as we are (hopefully) moving out of the pandemic, we are excited to ramp up the marketing and communication plan to students and new graduates, so they know that they have more than two paths to consider.

We recognize that the work that we do is not for everyone. However, we also think that there are many people in higher education today that would benefit from an awareness that they don’t just have to go into design or construction to leverage their education.

How Collaborative Procurement Drives Collaboration, Education and Successful Outcomes

Whenever an organization puts out a public RFP document, in some ways they are “rolling the dice” in terms of what solutions will be proposed by the market. Especially for organizations that must accept the lowest price qualified bid, there is a considerable risk that organizations may not get the exact product or service that they want or need.

Depending on the “tightness” of the scope of work or specifications in the RFP, and the respondent’s creativity in responding, respondents may be able to cut corners to lower bid costs. This can leave buyers in the uncomfortable position of either getting a result that is not what they wanted or expected or having to pay change order costs to enhance a bidder’s scope of work. Neither scenario is a positive outcome for the procurement professionals or the departments they are serving.

One of the less obvious (at least in terms of frequency of comments that we receive from clients and prospects when discussing Collaborative Procurement), is that the process allows buyers and vendors to collaborate and co-create a scope of work or specification. This all but guarantees that the end result will align with client expectations.

By enabling a results-focused conversation between the procurement team, the client end-user and the supplier, goals and objectives can be clearly articulated, and offerings can be tailored to meet the client’s specific needs.

The other side of this benefit is when a client doesn’t know exactly what they want. Being able to have a conversation with an expert can be an educational opportunity for a buying organization. By working collaboratively with a prequalified supplier, the buyer and their team can absorb a lot of knowledge during the process of crafting a scope of work or specification. The result is a more informed organization and a much higher likelihood of a successful project.

Please visit our Collaborative Procurement page of our website www.rothiams.com or visit our partners at: