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Business Management and Process Consulting Blog

 

Throw out your QuickBooks software

Posted by Keith Greeno on September 12, 2018 at 6:00 PM


Many companies are continuing to use generic accounting software such as QuickBooks and Sage 50 (Simply Accounting) for their construction and Oil & Gas services operations. These systems are a good starting point for many start-ups, but they can only handle very basic project costing and don’t offer any project management functionality. Even with the many third party add-on project solutions you are missing critical integration and project management components. With these generic systems you are running your projects like driving using only the rear-view mirror. You are always looking back at revenue and costs that can be months old. Service/Project management is the backbone of every contractor’s business. You must have a single accounting/project management system that’s capable of meeting all your crucial specific needs to be effective.

Is there too much back-and-forth miscommunication between your project team members? Is project and services reporting always available with timely information about your projects? Generic software simply can’t handle these issues without developing spreadsheets; or using third party applications which require manual double entry to handle the weaknesses. 

Sage 100 Contractor is an easy to use construction-specific accounting solution that can perform all of your advanced construction accounting requirements as well as manage your operations.  Sage 100 Contractor can give you the confidence you need to run your business, and your projects effectively and accurately. Why continue to use generic systems when there are specific construction and service solutions available? Your best option, which will likely improve profitability, might be to throw out your current generic software and move to something built specifically for your industry.

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Topics: Project Management, Productivity, Business Process, Guiding Great Businesses, Service Management, Mobility, Construction Software, Mobile Field Solutions, Project Costing, Estimating



Strategic Leadership Association – What I learn every retreat

Posted by Rob Greeno on August 21, 2018 at 7:00 PM


I have been attending the SLA (Strategic Leadership Association) retreats for years now.  Each one has given me some new tools and techniques to better my business. The topics are always something useful to the business world but not why I attend.  I attend because of the wealth of knowledge in the room at each retreat.  The room is filled with business owners and managers that have a combined knowledge far greater than anything I could have imagined.  Being able to hear how they have improved their businesses, what has worked, what hasn’t worked and where they plan to get to in the future and how they will get there has been immeasurable in terms of value.

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Topics: Productivity, Consulting, Employee Engagement, Business Process, Automation, Technology, Guiding Great Businesses, Customer Satisfaction, Customer Service



Eliminate the Paper Chase

Posted by Keith Greeno on August 7, 2018 at 7:00 AM


How many hours do we all spend looking for documents that we desperately need? How many countless dollars have we wasted on administration maintaining paper-based document systems? Document Management technology can solve many of these problems and save significant administration costs. Paperless office might seem difficult and a time-consuming task to move over to electronic format; the reality is that the value paperless provides in terms of time and cost savings far outweighs the initial costs and implementation time associated with changing procedures.

For construction businesses, you would gain control over your project documents with an easy way to store, retrieve, and route documents electronically throughout your business. You can automate your project routing and approval workflow processes to the correct individuals to improve communications on all jobs. Think of a document system where you can access all your project documents anytime, anywhere; including contracts, certificates of insurance, drawings, invoices and more. Think of the time and energy that you will be saving.

All businesses have documents, the way they store and retrieve these documents can be the difference between dominating their industry or falling short on customer service and ultimately letting work walk out the door. These same document management systems can link to your all your accounting transactions, such as purchasing and sales. You can manage invoices and other critical documents with efficiency and confidence.

We may not be able to completely get away from paper, but it is in our best interest to reduce the paper as much as possible. Both economically and environmentally.

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Topics: Project Management, Productivity, Employee Engagement, Business Process, Guiding Great Businesses, Mobility, Paperless Office, Construction Software, Mobile Field Solutions



Automated Purchasing Workflow Can Save Your Sanity

Posted by Keith Greeno on July 24, 2018 at 10:30 AM


Technology is changing many things in the world. For instance - the convergence of the web with transitional accounting systems is changing for the better with automated purchasing/payable workflow systems. These systems can save your sanity and business/organization. Think of a system that provides a sophisticated workflow engine with configurable rules, routing and approval functions.  You can control who gets to see the right information at the right time and ensure approvals are documented and timely.  Further, these new systems have an easy-to-use requisition or purchasing interface where documents are controlled through the workflow process.

I have seen many non-profit organization that think they are controlling spending by sending piles of supporting documents around to multiple approvers and cheque signatories. What is really happening is lost documents and approvers/signatories signing without understanding completely what they are signing off on. It is simply too much paper. Sometimes it is even worse in construction companies, where project managers are also involved, documents end up on the job site or are delayed because the managers are not back in the office for weeks at a time.

With an automated purchasing/payable workflow you can regain control, replace your manual invoice approval with a more paperless process. You will reduce your administration cost and ensure prompt payments with quicker approval of invoices. Further, you can find supporting documentation when you need it instead of searching through piles of documents and file cabinets.

We need to use technology when it makes sense. Automated purchasing/payable systems make sense. These systems enable organizations to tightly control & manage their spending. For all companies and especially for non-profits this is critical. The time has come to help save our sanity and seriously look at automating our purchasing/payable processes.

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Topics: Productivity, Business Process, Guiding Great Businesses, Automated Purchasing Workflow, PO Workflow, Purchase Order



Operational Visibility

Posted by Richard Kinyua on June 7, 2018 at 10:15 AM


Operational Visibility

One of the main tasks of running any business is knowing where you are at operationally. By having a dashboard where you can quickly see a total of new service orders created, current invoices, past invoices and completed calls; not only helps in resource planning but keeps your mind at ease in focusing on what matters.

A case in point, we recently had our stove fixed at home. At the end of the job, the technician pulled out the paper service receipt and rubbed the face of the credit card for payment. Prior to this technological payment taking process, the technician had come previously and informed us that he didn’t have the part and left saying he might have to reschedule the work for another day. This left the kids and more importantly, left me with no more chocolate chip cookies for a week! Before I Hulk out on how inconvenient this was, as an owner of this business, I would have wanted to know;

  • Did the technician make it to site?
  • How many visits were made?
  • Did the technician have the right part for the job?
  • Often overlooked – how was the customer service?

Here and now, there are tools that enable you to have this kind of visibility. With a real time, streamlined process, your sequence of activities would be;

  • technician picks a part from the warehouse before going to site
  • calls the customer with the estimated time of arrival
  • Punch actions for start – stop (travel and Work)
  • If work is satisfactory, take electronic payment from customer
  • Technician moves on to the next job assignment

With this kind of setup, you are receiving real time information from the field, where the technicians use their mobile devices to provide this info. The real time info ties in to your backend accounting.

Some of the benefits are;

  • Improved communication between the office and the field technicians
  • Enhanced customer service
  • Reduced paperwork
  • Reduced time to invoice, by tracking time, materials etc…
  • Potential new business by creating quotes while on site

Back to our recent encounter with the third kind, the technician came back the same day and the invoice/receipt charge made it to my credit card eventually.

We are at an age where we can cohesively work with technology to make us more efficient provided our internal processes are clearly defined.

Click Here to see the technology available – Sage Service Operations video

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



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