At PPM, we work on approximately 800 – 1,000 projects per year, and most of them involve thousands of measurements and multiple As-Built drawings as part of our deliverables. Despite our best efforts at utilizing fail proof survey techniques and extensive quality control, every once in awhile we deliver a plan that has an error in it. We are not perfect. A mistake is especially critical for a service like As-Builts, where the entire product is based on a promise of accuracy. Over the years, we have learned a few things about how to handle those rare circumstances when we make an error in one of our plans:
- Deal with the problem head on. Never make excuses. Regardless of how the error actually happened – it was our fault. Admit the mistake to the client and apologize. This allows us to focus on the solution.
- Do whatever it takes to fix the problem. We ask the client what we can do, if anything, to make it right. Maybe the mistake was caught early and no harm was done. Or maybe the client has already spent some time and money as result of the error. Whatever the situation, we make it our first priority, ahead of all other business and without regard to cost, to fix the problem that we have caused.
- Figure out exactly what went wrong. After the client has been taken care of and made whole, then we turn our attention to the cause of the problem. What breakdown occurred in our systems which allowed this error to happen? What changes need to be made to prevent it from happening again? Most errors are not problems with people, they are problems with systems – so we try to keep the focus there.
Unfortunately, we had just such an experience last week – our first plan error in over 500 projects. We had recently delivered a retail As-Built to a brand new client for a remodel project in a Las Vegas mall. They contacted us on Friday afternoon to let us know that they suspected we had incorrectly drawn the angle of one of the store walls. After an internal review, we were able to confirm that there was sufficient reason to believe they were right – we had likely made a mistake. We had a surveyor on a flight to Las Vegas the very next day, Saturday. We fixed the error on the plan and delivered the corrected plans to the client right away. I don’t know if this client will choose to work with us again, but I do know that we made our best possible effort to remedy the situation as soon as possible, and they seemed to appreciate the effort.
Someday, we will be able to achieve our goal of 100% accuracy in every single one of our plans. When that day arrives, the only use for our “Error Recovery” system will be to prop up our projector at company meetings. But until that happens, we owe it to our clients, and ourselves, to face our mistakes head on and do whatever we can to make things right.