Let's return to the example of the bank ATM job, and see how things might have gone differently had his architect and contractor been using a hosted collaboration solution.
"The problem," says Paul, "Is the lack of coordination. It might be more than a week between meetings with the architect and the bank, and during that time, if the construction crew has erected a wall or poured concrete, mistakes can become very expensive. One of the costlier mistakes involved just such a delay. By the time we caught the problem in our next meeting, we had to undo a week's worth of work. That adds up."
If instead, the site manager and his crews were able to update a project management workspace on a daily basis with the latest work and potential issues, posting digital photos or even embedding short videos of the job site, the architect and customer would become aware of problems before correcting them became prohibitively expensive, and could provide clear feedback via the same medium.
At the same time, this ability to provide progress reports and gather feedback would allow the builder and his crew to work with greater confidence, less paperwork, and without having to resort to gut-wrenching guesswork to keep the work moving while waiting for the next scheduled meeting.
PBworks even allows users to "comment" on pages and tasks; these comments are also time-stamped and tied to particular users, allowing designer, builder, and customer to keep a clear and permanent record of which changes were approved and by whom.
We're still at the very beginning of the collaboration revolution. The tools are still evolving at a frantic pace. Yet if they continue their rapid progress, the day may yet come when jokes about architects and contractors will be as outdated as using a handsaw to cut two-by-fours.