When something pops up a few times in a short span of time, it might be a trend, it might just be random fluctuations. When today, for the 3rd time this month, it became obvious that a customer or fabricator was not reading or absorbing simple statements in an email, I started thinking it’s a trend. And there is much anecdotal evidence about a lowered quality of attention to reading and writing in general plus of course, in commercial construction most everybody is stretched very thin. My guess is that this is a trend.
The implication for a project manager is that you have to do more verification and follow up; based on observable reality you are less able to assume that the recipient of a simple piece of writing will grasp and act upon what you have written. Of course, you can follow traditional methods and just let the chips fall where they may and deal with it later. The concern of course, is that most problems end up being owned by the subcontractor no matter what you think is fair or just. Taking this common lack of attention into account might be good defense, albeit annoying and maybe disheartening. Maybe the rule should be first phone, and then follow up with an email and do not rely on email alone?
Below is the latest example of this, consisting of an email I wrote and the reply that makes it obvious that my customer did not read the entire (and fairly short) email. I have removed anything that might identify the customer and added emphasis to the key sentences. =========================================================
On Tue, Nov 20, 2012 at 4:16 PM, <mxxxxxxr@XYZinc.com> wrote:
Here you go Leo – consider the proposal fully executed.
Have you begun production?
From: Leo Schlosberg [mailto:leo at caryconcrete.com]
Sent: Tuesday, November 20, 2012 3:25 PM
Subject: Re: abcde curbs -packaging and proposals
Revised proposal is attached, but as it’s all unit priced, it should not require any further modifications. Right now I assume no change to target date and that you’ll want 1/2 (95) at a time.
Good comment about floor loads. If the skids are being broken down immediately on the ground then getting them off the truck governs. But that in turn will depend on someone deciding if you or we unload. I remain of the opinion that the best person for me to be discussing this with is the person who will be there supervising unloading and distribution of the pieces. The one exception to this is if you yourself need to be involved in the dollar decision about unloading (price per truck varies by $300 depending on whether we unload or you unload).
We have started making these and I’d like to get the skid weight issue resolved ASAP so the plant knows how to package the pieces.