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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

About pricing, technology and news

Today, I mixed some new processes into a very traditional business -- journalism. The challenge, to write a meaningful story for our Canadian publications.

Last week, at the Ottawa Construction Association's Annual General Meeting, a general contractor noted how frustrating it can be when bid requests require detailed breakdowns of cost for a diversity of elements, rather than the final price. He explained the challenge of gathering and publicizing all this information in a tight deadline invites errors, higher bids, and possible abuse (it sets the stage for potentially nasty bid shopping and 'revising' after the contract is supposedly 'won').

Good story, perhaps, but how could I put it together in a meaningful way before deadline. I decided to use our substantial email list and open source survey software; drafted up a survey asking about the topic, and set up a simple email inviting participation.

"Ping", the email survey responses and phone calls started arriving minutes after I posted the survey. Lots of responses from qualified people; lots of interest and comments. And of course the stuff of a good story for our newspapers and websites. The story will be ready for publication next week.

While I was fielding calls on this matter (and several other issues, it has been a busy day today), William "Dee" Giarratano phoned me with an update regarding progress of his, a rather innovative (and very inexpensive) resource for contractors wishing to co-ordinate job take offs and plans with sub trades and suppliers. His prices are very low (many services are free) but the idea is to produce a high volume with low operating overhead, and compete in the space of much more expensive 'electronic plans room' services. I'll post a story tomorrow on our Atlanta website and through the network.

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