Monday, June 30, 2008

I believe you have my stapler…

Most of you have seen – or at least heard about – the comedy film “Office Space”. In one scene, a pair of outside “management consultants” advise their client firm to lay off a redundant employee only to find out that the employee had been let go years before – but a glitch in the payroll system allowed the employee to continue getting a paycheck – and he continued to come to work. Rather than address the situation directly with the employee, the consultants simply “fixed the glitch” in payroll and advised that “things will just work themselves out.”

Clearly, this is an absurd example – but is it that different from what Microsoft is doing to Windows XP users as it forces them to “upgrade” to Windows Vista? While many of us face in direction of Redmond, WA and genuflect daily, we often do it with a healthy dollop of contempt because of the ham-fisted way in which the monolithic software provider gets us to jump through their hoops. After all, for most of us software is just a tool that we use to do the work we are getting paid to do. Being obliged to learn new software is often seen as a distraction from the job at hand – particularly if the new application doesn’t deliver immediate benefits.

Look at some practical examples of this from our industry: Deltek acquires Wind2 and promises to support it – but for how long? At what point does Deltek “fix the glitch” and start the “migration” to their Vision product? Autodesk has invested heavily in Revit – how long before Autocad is in their rear-view mirror and they start the forced march to their BIM application?

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about these kinds of changes. What you can and should do is work with your A/E industry-specific software providers to ensure that transitions occur smoothly. You also need to clearly communicate the benefits of new applications to your staff. Don’t let your vendors forget that you do have a choice in A/E specific software applications – insist that they help you through transitions.

Have a great Fourth!


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