Thursday, April 09, 2015

Justifying a Revit Manager work for a firm that doesn't have a dedicated Revit Manager. There are nearly fifty of you toiling away with Revit now, things are busy, business is growing. That's great!

Still, management isn't interested in having a dedicated Revit Manager. The current solution is to divide up the things that person would do across three power users in the office. A year or so ago when there was about thirty people it didn't seem like a problem, as much.
Can you help your firm justify a Revit Manager?
Full disclosure, I don't usually get involved in this kind of discussion with clients since I tend to focus on user's work, a Revity task and strategy bias. It's not a normal part of my work but I am comfortable with wandering into conjecture, to offer my thoughts. How would I approach this if I am the one in this person's situation? I want my firm to recognize a need for a Revit Manager (or if you must...BIM Manager, I'd prefer Design Technology Manager personally).

I'd want to find out how my firm's management makes decisions about staff in general. When do they decide they need another office secretary, assistant, architect, intern or anyone? What factors, what numbers are they crunching, considering when they do that? How much analytic effort is put into it? Who are they entrusting with the decision to do something ultimately?

Let's say in this situation, we have a full time IT person. How did they decide that was necessary? I'd want to know why they consider that different from a Revit Manager (or Design Technology Manager). This is software that so many people rely on for 40+ hours a week to do billable work. I think that makes it (the software) important, which in turn makes the role as important to the firm as the IT person is to keep computers functioning well and securely. If they really don't recognize that, then I'd want to understand their logic, if possible. Then I could counter their thinking with more data, more examples.

It is also important that they (management) appreciate they ARE already paying for this person. They are currently paying other people to do that person's work (the three people mentioned earlier). Hopefully they aren't so distracted to think that's not the situation at hand. Each minute they are not directly billable is that person's time.

As such they need to quantify how much time and money that effort, spread across three people, really costs. It's quite easy to ignore money trickling out the door when they don't have a security camera focused on it to help them see it. How is it affecting them being billable, providing a greater income and return for their effort than the internal work that is distracting them.

Chances are good that, lacking a specific support person, there are even more indirect costs that are not getting tracked well (or at all) because those three are not really covering everything that arises. Nor do they have time to plan ahead or deal with office wide implementation effectively enough. People tend to struggle for quite awhile before they ask for help. The three are busy so they aren't free enough to just check in on people and catch them in a problem.

If I'm hitting a brick wall, can't get them to agree there is an issue then I'd suggest a study (oh NO...going academic now). Doing one demonstrates being willing to substantiate a claim and having enough patience to research it, to remove all doubt.

We make all sorts of decisions and many of them as much emotional as analytic. We call it hindsight when in two years we look back and agree that it was obvious we needed to do something...either we did and we are patting ourselves on the back or we didn't and are expressing regret. In the skeptical mind, we hear..."oh, it's a delay tactic...putting off making the right decision we think it is". It's quite likely that we need to measure things that are probably not now. A study could help this along, help everyone recognize the problem for what it is.

For at least one month we should carefully track activities, much deeper than we've done before. Ideally it should be for a few months. This allows us to gather more data which can help rule out any peculiar things that happen during the study's run which could skew the conclusions, like one project running off the rails due to external problems that end up distracting the firm excessively. To do this really well ALL of the staff needs to be involved (everyone this person would influence/support). It needs to be easier to identify how the lack of this person IS influencing everyone's productivity.

Anything that is not directly billable to a client's project is assigned to other cost categories. If accounting is pro-active then they've already got a variety of chargeable codes to use on time cards. If not then they need to start there so it is possible to see where the money is really going. We need everyone to be comfortable with keeping close track of their tasks carefully for this to work, no fear of recriminations if they get caught being not billable as much as we expected.
I would not be surprised if the study also flagged other issues that might be every bit as interesting, apart from the purpose of this post. The quote attributed to Peter Drucker is, "If you can't measure it, you can't improve it."
Once we've got data we can see how much time is spent away from billable tasks. Then we need to compare the cost of one person dedicated to doing those things for them, instead of them, everyone. This allows for a comparison with their effort (the three) being entirely billable instead (to the extent that any of us are entirely billable, never truly 100% if they are tracking things realistically).

We're looking to establish that the company can put at least two of the three back in the fully billable category, generating income instead. Maybe the third person (me, it's me, I want the job!) really wants to do this job and can become entirely assigned to overhead, which in turns should help to ensure everyone else stays closer to fully billable status.

The numbers should prove that it won't cost the company more money to do so...if we are are correct. If we are correct we'll probably discover that we'll be in a better position, and not just financially. It is also possible that we discover that things are better than we think, for the moment, and the current situation is doing right by the firm. To be fair we need to be open to that result long as the numbers are examined well.

There are also less tangible (not just $$) things like happiness and confidence, firm status (reputation) with regard to other consultants (and clients) and using Revit/BIM, reduction of redundant activities (like everyone making doors), setting priorities, standards, training, quality control and others. These all contribute to firm's culture, being productive and happy to show up at work in general.

If the study's results don't support creating this role then its possible that the issue is more emotional, maybe a staffing issue or just how the firm's attitude or message is received by everyone. I've seen situations where a project manager is very concerned about problems only to learn that he keeps overhearing his power user complaining about things he wishes could be improved. Those thoughts get interpreted into my project has a real problem and that can escalate quickly.

Then again, maybe someone is not in a role they'd really enjoy more. If that person is the one that believes the firm needs a Revit for example...then I've got some soul searching to do. The firm doesn't seem to need that role yet but it's what I want. I can wait it out, maybe the firm is still growing? I could also find a larger firm instead that offers an opportunity to pursue the role I want.

Working through this sort of business problem and doing it well might just be the proof your firm needs to recognize you have greater potential than they might have initially considered.

Wish me Luck! I'll wish you luck!


Daniel Hurtubise said...

Only one comment... glad to see your talking about a Revit Manager and not a BIM Manager. That "title" has been butchered in the last few years by an industry dying to find it's way. Most people i meet are Revit users and no where close to be a BI Manager.
A Revit Manager is a very important job in a firm, large to small.

Scott Chatterton said...

Ditto Daniel's comment above.
There is a distinct difference in the two roles. Early BIM Managers did focus on Revit and developing Revit standards etc, after those standards have been established BIM Managers should hand the maintenance of the Revit Standards off to someone else in the company so they can focus on BIM Management which includes project "BIM" management among many other things.