Editor’s Note: This is the third and final part of a series. Part I, Part II.

There’s a strong urge to rigidly stick to a pilot project plan and force it to work, but fast-moving construction environments have taught me that that’s a fool’s exercise. I always go in with a concrete plan and never delegate the details. It’s better to figure out what works.

We learned a lot. Our next challenge was trying to change the conventional thinking of our leadership. Some A-ha! moments along the way:

  • Many team members had a 1970s view of surveyors. They were astonished to learn that surveyors are geospatial data collection and processing experts; and that they use data collectors, not paper field books.
  • Survey data could be handled much more simply than we anticipated.
  • More night work was involved than anticipated, making it harder to ensure surveyors were available.
  • The contractor is the best source for scheduling surveyors.
  • CAD and GIS analysts didn’t understand construction, capital projects, or survey data at all.
  • GIS analysts couldn’t comprehend that survey data can’t be edited after processing. I finally compared it to orthophotography imagery, which they don’t edit.
  • Project engineers didn’t care about asset location, only functionality. Issues related to long-term asset management didn’t interest them.
  • Quality verification was necessary to ensure CAD designers used survey data. We’d have to provide hierarchy guidelines to resolve conflicts between survey data and red line mark-ups.
  • Leadership didn’t understand that surveyors can’t dictate or delay schedules, that they have to establish a relationship to get into the contractor’s communication loop.
  • Leadership did not understand the project’s need to be agile. Test processes rigorously and then have the courage to move on quickly if it isn’t working. Keep trying until something does work.
  • The reaction of maintenance crews, resident engineers, and project engineers, who basically said, “It’s about time they sent surveyors out here to map this stuff.” Hmm.

Next page: Temporary derailments