As we indicated in the overview, the world of construction is seeing several radical changes because of advancement in technology, cut-throat competition, and varying trends. If you want to stay ahead of the competition you must do it with better run businesses and do the things you hate.
Before anything else, get whatever licenses and insurance are necessary for your business. This is critical to the financial and legal future of your business; it is another way of marketing your intent to deliver value to your customer and it is a way to corner markets.
It is said of any business that if you have the proper exit plan you can run your business better and more profitably because the goal has switched from short to long term. That thought process applies to how you expand the business. The best way to expand your business is to replicate the CEO in the field. Buy the best talent to get the best production. In line with that you must start running the company as a manager and not a doer. This is where goal orientation and critical analysis make another difference.
We discussed the goal orientation as part of the marketing discussion. Well, it must be the driver for the entire company. You must measure everything and make sure the staff knows what and how you are measuring so they will do the same. It is not possible to set up and use the goal orientation without everyone being onboard. That includes subs. The subs you use must know what you expect from them and how they are being measured so they operate as part of the machine. Whatever reporting that will allow all to see, at any point, what the progress is and how they fit should be created or purchased.
That leads to automation because the compilation of everything is faster when automated. You must know what you are looking for in automation and that is the result of the composition of the goals and knowing how that orientation fits together. One thing that is needed is measuring tools to make the overall management easier. Once you can verbalize the plan, the goals and how everyone fits you will know how to automate to make it better. Don’t put the cart before the horse even though you can gain from automation all by itself. A problem with automating parts of the process without really knowing the process is that the pieces of software you get don’t talk to each other the way that enhances the process, and you must replace some of them on an on-going basis.
When looking for software, knowing exactly what tools are neededto fill out yourallows you to analyze each package correctly, for instance there are project management packages that tout their estimating ability but, if you have looked at estimating software, knowing what you are looking for, you will conclude that the advertised estimating module of the project management package is inadequate. At that point you will know to find out how or if the project management software interfaces with a real estimating package or that you need to look farther. You will also be better able to do a cost/benefit analysis on all of want you are looking at. Knowing the real needs that fit your plan will allow you to know which piece of the puzzle to start with and where to go from there so your money will be spent wisely.
A stumbling block for most construction companies is production of an accurate quote in the amount of time that will place then in the running from a time basis while not encroaching on the time need make sure no other opportunities are missed. Waiting for bids from subs and vendors hinders that and puts you behind the curve immediately. You must have construction estimating software which comes with accurate cost data to bridge that gap. You must be able to estimate quickly and accurately whether the bid from the vendor or sub arrived or not. This is the case no matter what size your company is.
It is also necessary to, wherever possible, have standard contracts with your subs that have fixed prices for specific services and materials. This will allow you to ad them to the cost database to make the estimating even more accurate and easier. Bid Management is a needed tool to keep the bids you get from the vendors and sub in-line and on schedule. In essence pre-construction predictability dictates your control over the project.
Another part of the pre-construction turns out to assist through all the facets of the business. That is keeping a database of prospect, clients, vendors, and others who influencethe business and whose information is critical to you. The type of software that handles this is called CRM or Customer Relationship Management. The basic information needed process of tracking sales, estimate, bid management, project management, and billing through completion of the job depends on this so, what ever software you are looking for requires a CRM. Try to evaluate each software package you look at from this perspective and make sure the CRM portion of the package supports all these functions.
Be sure your project management and billing software is ample to handle all your present and future needs. When looking for software, consider that it is much better for you to grow into the software than grow out of it. There is a learning curve for each software package you get so try to make it happen as few times as possible. That does not mean overspendbut just critically analyze.
Because it is difficult for the software development companies to experts in all areas, you may have to look for more than one package to fit your needs. A concern with getting multiple packages is having to make duplicate entries in each of them so, be sure that your software has a path fotransmission of data between the packages. Most software developers know this and look for ways to incorporate each expertise they do not have in house by connecting with the packages that do. When you are told that one package interfaces with another make sure you know how easy ad thorough it is because it is something you will need to use often and any gaps in that will give you a headache long term. A good example of this kind of interface is, since many contractor’s use QuickBooks for accounting, the estimating software must interface with it and you need to know how easy and thorough that interface is.
You can probably see why it is best to know what you are looking for and how your puzzle fits together before choosing software. You will know the right questions and how to measure the answers. Plan, communicate the plan so everyone is onboard and can articulate the plan and their piece and then implement.