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Business Management and Process Consulting Blog

 

Commitment goes a long way

Posted by Keith Greeno on May 10, 2018 at 10:00 AM


Real commitment to a project goes a long way to ensuring that a project is completed on time, on budget and to be considered a success. As stated by Zig Ziglar “Most people are about as committed as a, Kamikaze pilot on his 29th mission”.  So why is commitment such a problem. The short answer is that we all tend to sometimes be a little lazy. We don’t want to put in the effort that is required to successfully complete the tasks on time.

We were working with a non-profit customer recently that truly wanted to improve their business practices and related procedures and processes. They had carefully selected a Human resource/payroll software to handle the defined requirements. They started on the project conversion with the drive to finally solve this major organizational issue. Then things started to get difficult. The regular day to day problems started get in the way. The started to lose focus on what they were trying to achieve. The result was that, a year later and they are still working on a planned 3-month project.

Change is easy, but transitioning is difficult. If we are not committed to a project’s success it will likely never be completed. We will be transitioning for a long time, which can create even more chaos in are organizations. When the going gets tough we all sometimes take the path of least resistance and not complete the difficult tasks that need to be completed and the task/project at hand will ultimately fail.

Therefore, if you are not committed, don’t bother to start a project, it will end up badly.

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Topics: Productivity, Employee Engagement, Business Process, Guiding Great Businesses



Project Managers - Master of your Domain

Posted by Keith Greeno on April 26, 2018 at 4:00 PM


Project Managers - Master of your Domain

Take charge of your projects, don’t let the projects take charge of you. Project management software can put you in command of your projects so that you can intercept problems before they become issues. View hot lists of critical outstanding project tasks. Stay in constant communication with team members with automatic schedule notices sent at set intervals. Monitor the status of all subcontracts including changes, invoices, and balances remaining. Check material status reports to ensure crews have what they need to keep jobs moving forward. Imagine a world where you can have a dashboard to see everything that is happening on not just one, but all your projects.

You may have certain portions of your project management somewhat automated with scheduling or estimating software solutions. If they are not integrated they are costing you valuable time, money and projects are more likely to fail. We had a recent customer that had automated some of their project management with a scheduling software. It looked nice and you could drop and drag jobs and view the related work required. However, the solution required that they reenter information into 3 separate systems. The net result was that their great, good looking, separate systems were costing this company over $75,000 a year in additional manpower, wasted time and the project managers felt completely out of control.  They couldn’t go to one location to see everything that was going on, they had wrong information at times because someone had forgot to reenter or had entered the wrong numbers.

The good news is that there are cost effective solutions out there that can put you in control and help you master your domain. The Sage 100 contractor is one of those types of integrated solutions. http://www.asyma.com/sage-100-contractor-master-builder

Take a look, I think it will greatly help you master your project domain.

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Topics: Project Management, Productivity, Construction, Business Process, Guiding Great Businesses, Construction Technology, Service, Field Technicians



Reduce Bid Time and Increase Bid Quality

Posted by Stephan Garland on April 16, 2018 at 2:43 PM


Better Estimates in half the time.

As a small construction company, you will likely start out using a spreadsheet to create Quotes and Estimates for your jobs. Spreadsheets work OK for those small, simple jobs but become difficult to work with as the detail and complexity of the job increase.

If the jobs you bid on are complex to begin with, a spreadsheet might actually be slowing you down or causing un-necessary loss of potential revenue because of error and inaccuracy.

A spreadsheet is a great way of displaying data in columns and rows and even doing some pretty amazing calculations but is it the best tool for the job. Think of it like using the handle of a screw driver to pound in a nail. You can do the job, but you’ll go through a lot of screw drivers and it will take you a lot longer to get the job done. You might even risk injury. When you want to pound nails, you use a hammer. It gets the job done quickly and efficiently compared to the screw driver or you can take it to the next level and use a nail gun.

The point is, a screw driver isn’t an effective hammer and a spreadsheet isn’t an effective estimating tool.

What is a good estimating tool?

A good estimating tool will

  1. allow you create a list of all items you use in your jobs, along with their costs and allows you to add these items quickly to your worksheet
  2. allow you to group your job into phases
  3. allow you to group items together as an assembly and add the assembly to the worksheet
  4. allow you to create stored calculations to simplify the process of determining the amount of material used
  5. allow multiple views of your estimate
  6. allow you to create templates for common tasks and job components that can be reused as needed
  7. breakdown costs into a work breakdown structure (WBS) to import into your job cost application
  8. break out cost by labor, material, equipment, subcontract and other categories
  9. allow you to create purchase orders, subcontract orders, and budgets etc. from you estimate
  10. will integrate with your accounting and job costing to reduce duplication of effort when entering information
  11. will allow you to quickly recalculate the entire estimate as prices and quantities change

Sage Estimating is a great example of a top notch estimating application which will reduce the time it takes to create an estimate by 50% or more over using a spreadsheet. The application has many industry databases which simplify setup and get you started building better estimates quickly. It is also flexible enough for you to design your own customized system to meet your companies’ specific needs.

Sage Estimating integrates with Sage 100 Contractor and Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate. These systems share information so that you enter it once and use it in all applications.

Your estimate becomes part of the permanent record for your job and can be used in your accounting and job costing to create budgets and work schedules and compare actuals to estimates. The work breakdown structure of your estimate becomes the cost codes of your job and are further broken down by categories like labor, equipment and material. With the cost codes in place you can use this same information to schedule when material will arrive on site and schedule work for both employees and subs.

Once the job is done you can compare your actual's with the estimate to determine what changes need to be made to improve your estimating for the next job. This way your estimates get better over time and you win more and better work and can insure it is profitable.

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Topics: Project Management, Productivity, Construction, Business Process, Project profitability, Guiding Great Businesses, Construction Technology, Field Technicians, Sage Estimating, Bid



Dismiss the doubt in your construction business

Posted by Keith Greeno on February 1, 2018 at 11:00 AM


Construction Estimating.jpg

Dismiss the doubt in your construction business

Not knowing where you are at is one of the most worrisome situations that anyone can find themselves in. This is particularly true in construction business where you begin to doubt yourself.

How much cash do you really have in the bank? How far along is that big project? Are all the project change orders billed?

There are construction accounting and project management solutions out there that can easily answer these questions. These systems can give you newfound confidence in your numbers and help you sleep at night. It is tough enough running a business in today’s business environment without compounding the problems from a lack of information.

Current technology allows business owners and managers to perform all project management and accounting tasks with ease; from deposits and disbursements to journal transactions and more efficiently and effectivity. One such system that can handle these tasks is the Sage 100 Contractor solution. It is easy to use and built for the construction industry.

Take a look and then ask yourself; do you really know where you are at with your construction business?  http://www.asyma.com/sage-100-contractor-master-builder

With the current technology you can rest assured that change orders are getting properly billed and your data is secure with user access controls. These systems will help you worry less about your business and dismiss the doubt about where you are at.

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Topics: Project Management, Productivity, Construction, Business Process, Guiding Great Businesses, Construction Technology, Service, Field Technicians



Manage your service technicians with ease

Posted by Keith Greeno on January 10, 2018 at 11:00 AM


Electrical Contractor with Tablet.jpg

Manage your service technicians with ease

When your service technicians are in the right place at the right time and have access to correct information, customers are happy. There are solutions available for both small and large businesses that makes it easy to manage your service operations effectively, efficiently and profitably. These solutions work well for many areas; whether you’re taking a work order, managing a contract, tracking a warranty, or generating an invoice. These service solutions effectively use technology to provide complete mobile service management capabilities, integrate with inventory/accounting and help you turn service calls into predictable cash flow. You will always know where you stand on work orders and schedule changes out in the field.

So why are many businesses not using these systems? They have manual work orders with multiple data entry points. Often the multiple data entry results in errors, delayed billing and worst of all; lost or unbilled services. We must understand that change can be difficult, but not changing can be disastrous.

I was at a ski hill recently and rode up a chair lift with an electrical technician that works in the oil & gas service industry. He was younger (Mid-thirties) and had a crew working under him. He was expressing how backward the company he worked for was, just about everything was manually done with paper. He knew there are automated systems available, was frustrated on a daily basis and mentioned he would likely look for a different job as soon as the economy in Alberta improved.

If you think as an owner or management that you don’t have to change your service operations to utilize technology available and integrate the field and back end operations, I think you are sadly mistaken. You may find yourself without qualified technicians and spending more money on manual administration than on production. Take a look at some of the options available and ask yourself if there is a better way to handle service.

http://www.asyma.com/technisoft 

http://www.asyma.com/sage-100-contractor-master-builder

Technology, if used and setup correctly can be the difference between night and day for any business. 

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Topics: Project Management, Productivity, Construction, Business Process, Guiding Great Businesses, Construction Technology, Service, Field Technicians



Today's construction service problems are yesterdays solutions

Posted by Keith Greeno on December 14, 2017 at 10:30 AM


Today's construction service problems are yesterdays solutions

It has been said many times that today’s problems are yesterday’s solutions. We developed the manual service work order, field tickets, daily activity reports and related spreadsheets to solve a service data collection problem from the past. Today however, these legacy systems are a major problem that is slowing effective service production and very likely holding your company back.

We have new employees who are tech savvy and simply will not put up with old manual processes. Who doesn’t have a smart phone now a day? They look at these old systems and think we must be crazy. The technology exists today to effectively manage service operations and reduce the time to invoice.

These systems enable service technicians to complete their work in less time by providing the real-time information they need in the field on any tablet or mobile device. They also reduce administrative time by integrating with your back-office accounting solution. They improve communication between office staff and field technicians by capturing details like time, materials used, notes and work order status in real time. I think that we owe it to ourselves to quit putting up with old, slow, inaccurate legacy systems and seriously look to improve our service production. Your employees and your pocket book will be happier.

Remember, it doesn’t stop there. Organizations that are good about solving today’s challenges will often create new and bigger challenges in the future. Just because we move forward to todays technology doesn’t mean we are done. Yesterday’s solution will again be todays problems. We must continue to move forward and look for improvement.

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Topics: Project Management, Productivity, Construction, Business Process, Guiding Great Businesses, Construction Technology, Service, Field Technicians



Construction - Measure what matters

Posted by Keith Greeno on November 21, 2017 at 10:30 AM


Measure what really matters in your construction business

There are two major requirements for growth and success of a construction company; profitable customers and happy customers. We all measure profit at least to some degree, but do we measure customer happiness? The next question is, how the heck to you do that?

Not all profit is good profit. If you cut corners to save money, how would this hurt long term customer relations?  If you made money, but lost a customer would it be worth it? The basic rule of thumb is a happy customer tells 1 person a bad customer tells 10.

In the book the “The Ultimate Question by Fred Reichheld” he discusses how we need to “Stop measuring things that don’t matter to your customer”

He goes on to state:

  1. You have to design value propositions that focus on the right customers. That means developing an appropriate segmentation of your customer base, then creating a complete customer experience capable of delighting each targeted segment.
  2. You will have to deliver those propositions in the end. Every department and every employee in your company will have to pull in the same direction.
  3. You will have to develop your company's capability to do all this over and over again, renewing and reinventing the customer experience over time.

What he is saying, is that for each construction company, we need to focus on what we do well and how we can delight the customer. We need to ensure that all employees are focused on delivering what we promise the customer, every time.

Therefore, to determine how happy our customers are let’s Ask the ultimate question and very little else. “Would you recommend our company to your friends and associates? Rank from 0-10

https://www.netpromoter.com/know/ 

Analysis shows that, on average, increasing the net promoter score by a dozen points versus the competitors can double the company's growth rate. We at Asyma Solutions live by this same measurement. If we as a company are really providing value to our customers with our products or services, then our customers would gladly recommend us. This applies to construction companies as well. Therefore, lets measure what really matters, what does the customer really think.

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Topics: Business Process, Guiding Great Businesses, Customer Satisfaction, Net Promoter Score, Customer Service



How to solve poor project management communication

Posted by Keith Greeno on November 7, 2017 at 10:34 AM


Is poor project communication killing your business?

The single biggest problem in construction project management is communication with everyone involved in the project.  This is compounded by the fact as stated by George Bernard Shaw that “the single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place”.

Therefore, anything that we can do to improve real communication will greatly enhance and improve our project management. So why in today’s fast-paced, construction environment, doesn’t everyone on a project have access to up-to-the-minute information from a convenient and easy-to-use online source? Why would project managers continue to struggle to communicate with everyone the old way when cloud-based information is easily available anytime, anywhere. This type of sharing saves time, reduces errors, improves collaboration among team members, reduces confusion for everyone involved, and keeps all parties well-informed. The new technology for accounting project software allows everyone to communicate better, get timely, convenient, access to all types of contract and project-related documents, photos, files, and more.  They allow everyone on a project—including the project managers, project team, architects, and subcontractors—to find, share and track all project documents and transactions from the office or worksite.

The technology is available to greatly improve communication on all projects and reduce the illusion as well. So why aren’t we all using it? Take a look at what these easy to use project management systems can do to assist with communications and help keep us competitive Click Here  

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Topics: Project Management, Productivity, Construction, Business Process, Guiding Great Businesses, Communication, Construction Technology, Sage 100 Contractor



Stop Thinking and Just Do It!

Posted by Keith Greeno on July 13, 2017 at 4:00 PM


Change is difficult. We all understand this. The main problem is that change for everyone is inevitable. The problem is that some businesses think that they are immune to change. They think they can simply keep doing things the old way.

I have been involved in many business discussions with owners, managers and controllers; where I know they can greatly benefit by modernizing their management systems and processes. Based on the requirements and from listening to the business owners and management it is clear that they have a areas that can be improved; so clear that we guarantee the value and solution in many cases. However, they are not always convinced and want to continue to handle things the same way as before. “They want to think about it”. These businesses wanted their new system to perform and look like their existing system because “that’s what they know” and are completely unwilling to embrace any aspect of “changing” their system.  The question is why? What was the point of going through all the stress and inconvenience of an upgrade if you aren’t interested in making your business more streamlined and improving the procedures and processes? The current versions of Sage or any software for that matter have way more functionality and flexibility than their predecessors. It is an evolving tool that changes as requirements, technology and people change.

So, our advice for these businesses and organizations is to continue to use their existing systems until ready to make a change. Ultimately, it is like any type of change, you must be ready for it and want it otherwise you will resist transitioning and it will ultimately fail.

Our best advice sometimes is the stop thinking and just do it. Inaction is not a solution.

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Topics: Productivity, Employee Engagement, Business Process, Guiding Great Businesses



Is QuickBooks or Sage 50 Limiting your Construction Business?

Posted by Rob Greeno on June 27, 2017 at 5:30 PM


When you were starting out in business you needed an easy to use and functional system to handle your basic accounting requirements. QuickBooks or Sage 50 was likely the solution to your problem. A well known and supported solution with many good reports to help you move your business forward. The good part was that you did move your construction business forward. The question now; is that same easy to use system still functional enough to handle your growing construction requirements now and into the future? Do you have work arounds and multiple different solutions that data is entered into more than once? Chances are these added processes are costing you and your business time and money.

Do you find that you handle the following outside of QuickBooks or Sage 50 because they can't or do not provide what your business requires?

Project production
  1. Scheduling jobs and tasks for projects
  2. Document control for change orders, subcontractors, etc.
  3. Field management for projects
  4. Project management controls
  5. Service management for small jobs
  6. Service dispatch controls for labour and equipment
Estimating
  1. Estimate(s) for multiple levels
  2. Parts and assembly tracking with accurate pricing
  3. Automated creation of job budgets to compare to actual project costs
Accounting
  1. Tracking of work in progress for management and banking
  2. Complete project documentation for bonding
  3. Control over subcontractor billings to jobs
Construction analysis
  1. Dashboard reporting for all project and service jobs
  2. Project reporting for under and over billed jobs
  3. Project reporting with % complete for tasks and cost codes
  4. Equipment tracking of revenue and expenses

If you sit back a moment and consider the costs that these missing functions are having on your business, you will be very surprised. We recently completed a review for a smaller 25 person construction company. The result was a significant $63,000/Year that was being wasted with manual work around processes. These small business accounting solutions are simply not built to handle the requirements of a construction business that has grown and requires more out of a system and solution.

The good part is that there are construction solutions on the market that can handle these requirements, that are easy to use and inexpensive. Sage 100 contractor is one of these such solutions and would be a good option when researching different solution. http://www.asyma.com/sage-100-contractor-master-builder

You owe it to yourself and your business to consider some of the options available.

  

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Topics: Construction, Contractors, Project profitability, Project Center