Is user based pricing for advanced work packaging software genius or folly?

Is user-based pricing for Advanced Work Packaging software genius or folly?

By Andrew Foy, VP of AWP and Construction

Every time I read about companies offering user license models for Advanced Work Packaging software (or for those familiar with the term, offering to “sell seats”) I always end up with the image of assembling flat-pack furniture. Sure, you get the seat you asked for, but there is most assuredly “some assembly required.”

AWP is meant to be a collaboration process. It should engage with nearly every department and stakeholder group on a project if done well. AWP software should support this theory. It doesn’t exist as an isolated silo on a project. It needs to interact with everything else in its orbit and to do that people need access.

These low-cost entry point concepts can sound great, “Get started with AWP for as little as $299 per month” (plus shipping and handling, presumably). But the key word there is started. Yes, you can get started, but that’s all you can do. AWP is not one person sitting at their desk creating work packages. For it to be truly effective, it must spread across all aspects of project delivery.

This is where the trap is discovered.

  • You want to add another Workface Planner? Sure, but that’s going to cost another seat.
  • You want your engineering team to have access to the system to track their progress and report on deliverable status? We can do that if you agree to buy the gold-level package that comes with another 20 more seats.
  • You want to pull data from your material information system, engineering model, document management system, and a vast array of other tools to get the planners all the right information? Yeah, I think we can do that, but each integration will cost you another seat.

If this is the model, there will always be a financial incentive to keep your user pool as thin as possible. Every time you want to add a constraint owner or new stakeholder, you must ask for more money from the project budget and explain to the Project Manager why you need it.

The administration alone makes my head spin. Adding users. Checking access logs. Remembering to remove people. Figuring out who REALLY needs access. Make people do their work on paper, so your one superuser can type it all into the system. A change order every month. Agonizing over every approver and trying to stay clear of that dreaded next pricing tier.

Then, to add insult to injury, you realize that the user-based pricing model has several caveats. Yes, the single seat may be cheap, but suddenly the price starts going up because you become overrun with Professional Services costs. The vendor is happy to make the system do whatever you need, but you are paying for all that development (often masquerading as configuration).

So, in this case, as in so many others, the adage holds true: If it looks too good to be true, it likely is. You lose that collaboration, and in doing so, you inherently lower the value and benefit from AWP implementation. You lose cost certainty and get a shock every month when you get the bill because you forgot that you added five new users last week.

O3’s approach is much different. We scale our pricing to the size of the project, meaning that the software can easily be applied to small projects as well as large and mega ones. The cost is at the project level, not the user level. You can have as many users as you want in the tool. Give access to your engineers, construction contractors, suppliers, vendors – anyone who has a stake in the successful implementation of AWP. Each person manages just their portion of the scope, so they stick to what they know and are responsible for the items they are accountable for.

AWP is a collaboration. If all you are doing is creating another tool that will sit on its own, it’s not talking to anyone else; you aren’t breaking down silos – you are just making another one.

Many of us fell into this trap years ago when a company would offer “Five CDs for the low price of 99 cents” which sounds great until you realize what you’ve signed up for.

A simple pricing model, with cost certainty and guaranteed collaboration, is better. You get what you pay for, and with world-class AWP software, you can realize the full benefits of AWP while ensuring that the total cost of the software will always be dwarfed by the savings you can make.

If you’d like to learn about our solutions and pricing please contact us at

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