3 Invaluable Lessons from Faith Varwig
- Developing matrixes of responsibilities for IT departments is critically important.
- Listen to your IT specialist and believe that they know what they’re talking about.
- Making the right decision is better than making a fast decision.
This week, host Sue Dyer speaks with Faith Varwig about some of the insights and secrets of how to make IT successful on projects.
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About Guest Faith Varwig (2:05)
Faith Varwig is the Principle and Founder of The Faith Group. The Faith Group LLC was established in 2004 as a full-service consulting and engineering firm specializing in the planning and design of security, IT, safety, operational and MEP and FP systems for aviation, transportation, healthcare, federal, government, large campus environments, and critical infrastructure clients.
Faith’s Journey to Becoming the Founder of The Faith Group (3:10)
- Faith spent more than 20 years working for several architectural engineering firms in the St. Louis region (3:34)
- She wanted to support not only the tech but the operations and business systems of her clients (3:45)
- She cares about the culture of her company; she makes work fun and upholds company values (4:00)
Faith’s Strengths as a Leader and How She Creates and Leads a Great Culture (4:48)
- She loves communicating and working with her clients and staff on a personal level (4:55)
- She’s accessible as a leader – no matter your role, people should be able to come in and talk to you about anything (5:28)
- She wants to share with her team her more than 35 years of experience (5:55)
- She empowers her team to think outside of the box and come up with new ideas and approaches that set a different standard (6:15)
- She’s not afraid to try new things, take some risks, and experiment (6:40)
Why Do the IT Components on So Many Projects Still Fail? (7:55)
- IT needs to be there at the very beginning, many companies wait to include it the end of the project (9:07)
- There are problems assigning an appropriate budget for IT (9:26)
- The IT disciplines are lumped under the prime electrical contractor who doesn’t have the skill-set to manage them (10:00)
How to Implement Technology into the Construction Process (11:20)
- You have to start thinking of technology infrastructure as the fifth utility of the building (11:28)
- Start with the stakeholders during the early stages of the planning process to develop goals, objectives, and detailed design documents (11:55)
- Have a liaison between the stakeholders, the planning and development group, and the general contractor to help deliver a program that’s on time and in budget and meets all the goals and objectives of the end stakeholders (12:55)
How Do You Implement Technology When You Have a CM That Thinks It’s Their Role? (13:50)
A technology rollout is completely different than construction management. The key difference is that in many cases the IT department of the company plays a key role in implementation. These IT teams generally have no experience in construction, so there has to be flexibility in budget and tools to ensure that the department delivers on time.
How to Get the IT Department On Board (17:10)
- Work hard with IT departments to help them understand where they fit in (17:58)
- Create schedules and develop matrixes that assign responsibilities (18:05)
- Realize that the internal IT department has no contractual obligation to the contractor (19:00)
What is the Barrier to Creating a Strong Tech Implementation for Extraordinary Results (21:10)
Get the owners and the contractors to understand the value of up-front planning, along with the need for future growth. Everyone has to understand that there will be risks and there need to be people on staff who are strictly focused on managing the IT program. IT is complicated and the approach to delivering the project needs to be flexible because the process and technology will change.
What You Need to Do to Truly Implement Technology on Your Project (23:40)
- Understand the true scope of the project up-front (24:13)
- Budget appropriately for the full scope of the work (24:32)
- Have the right combination of the right consulting team early on (26:40)
A Big Challenge Faith Has Faced (27:20)
Professionally, being on the wrong side of a political decision of an organization. We did our job and doing everything right, be we were on the wrong side of the political environment.
Personally, making the decision 15 years ago to start her own company was a challenge. She was under the safety umbrella of a large organization and then was compelled to step out and put her own ideas into action. It takes about five years to prove to people that you’re going to stick around. She now has a great client base and multiple offices.
The Very Best Advice Faith Has Ever Gotten (30:20)
Remain calm, don’t overreact to anything. Developing relationships and partnerships with companies is the most important thing you can do.
Resources for Listeners (35:53)
- Scaling Up: How a Few Companies Make It and Why the Rest Don’t (affiliate link) by Verne Harnish
- Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family (affiliate link) by Bob Chapman
- Airport Consultants Council Young Professional Group
Faith’s Favorite Personal Piece of Tech (37:32)
Microsoft Teams and GoToMeetings are the platforms the Faith Group is moving to instead of Skype.
Faith’s Parting Advice (43:10)
- Be nice to people, everyone is in a program or project to be successful (43:20)
- Create a culture of inclusion (43:40)
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