The Hidden Cost of AWP Software
By Andrew Foy, O3 Solutions VP of AWP & Construction
It’s a lovely winter morning. The kids are unwrapping presents while you drink coffee, knowing that you have got them exactly what they wanted this year. They whoop with joy when opening it, and all else is forgotten as they immediately want to play with it.
The problem is that you forgot to buy batteries for it. Or, for a slightly more modern version, it needs to run a huge array of updates for hours before they can plug in the first game. All your planning and hard work has been ruined, and the screams of joy turn to sulks.
It may sound like an odd comparison, but I see a lot of similarities when it comes to implementing Advanced Work Packaging (AWP) software on a project. You think you have bought the right tool. You have it in the box in plenty of time for your planned start date. But then when you try to use it, you realize that there is a lot left to do before you can get anything meaningful out of it.
This is because AWP software is not like putting batteries in a toy. There is a lot of setup work that needs to be done, and you need to make sure that you are allowing enough time to do it. For many companies, this starts with a change management process, adapting their processes and existing methods to work with AWP and the supporting technology. Then you get onto the implementation of the software, and the integration of that software with other tools. Simply put, if your AWP software can’t ‘speak’ to your other tools, like scheduling and materials management, it will not be successful.
All of this is not just a question of time. More often than not, it also becomes an issue of cost. Every manual task required to setup and configure your AWP software needs to be completed by a person, which adds to the overall price of the software. So when you are talking to software providers, listen very carefully for words like “transform”, “manipulate”, “convert”. Be very clear with your understanding of whether those actions are being performed by the tool, or by a person. If in doubt, ask to be shown the process on the screen, so you can see the number of steps involved and the total time that it takes.
There are other elements of software ‘costs’. Some old-fashioned organizations will still push on-premise solutions where software is installed directly on your machines. This can lead to significant hardware costs, which you have to factor into the overall pricing model. O3, on the other hand, is a web-based solution with no hardware costs, and our hosting fees are built right into the software cost.
Then there are licenses, or ‘seats’. If someone is selling you AWP software by seats, they are missing a fundamental part of the AWP process. For AWP to be successful, it has to be a collaborative approach, meaning that everyone should be able to access the data, upload or update information, and share in a single source of truth. Asking you to agonize over how many seats you want to buy will inherently lead you away from this collaborative model. O3, by contrast, offers unlimited users for all projects because we know that your best results are only achieved when everyone can contribute.
So when looking at AWP software, don’t be swayed by a low initial price. (Any more than you would be by those old flyers we used to get through the mail boasting about six CDs for a dollar, only then to find out that you were tied into a three year contract). Drill into all aspects of the cost, particularly the services hours that will be needed to make the software work, and whether those services hours will be needed throughout the lifespan of your project. If you are paying your software provider for one of their programmers to “optimize” your data every week for two years, whenever you get a new model or source file, your costs will skyrocket.
So look for software costs, services hours, hardware costs, hosting and license (seat) fees. And make sure you add it all up. Only then will you understand the hidden cost.