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Business Management and Process Consulting Blog

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



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



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



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



Improved collaboration drives effectiveness

Posted by Keith Greeno on March 28, 2017 at 4:00 PM


In the everchanging world of technology; if the software doesn’t fully integrate, then don’t use it.  When you take the time to carefully review your current non-integrated systems you will find that they are costing you thousands of dollars each year.  While many of these costs are hidden in additional administration wages, reduced productivity as well as supervisory staff, they are there none the less. One of our customers was running QuickBooks and had a custom program for project management as well as many excel spreadsheets. They felt that they had everything under control but on a detailed review we found that the additional reentry time into each one of these systems was costing them over $80,000 a year. In addition, a couple of the excel spreadsheets had major errors in them which likely cost them thousands more. Not very effective or efficient.

Now let’s think of a scenario where you allow everyone on a project, including the owner, project team, architects, engineers, and subcontractors to share information and collaborate. Think of the improved efficiency of being able to find and track documents as well as the project accounting transactions from the office or jobsite. In this scenario, you would experience seamless integration with job costs as well as having access to information like estimates, commitments, actual costs, and revenue. If you think this is not possible, or extremely expensive, think again. This technology and software solutions are available today in systems like Sage Project Center and at a reasonable cost that allows everyone with the required access to be informed while being more efficient. These systems will integrate seamlessly to the accounting department so everyone always has up to date information without the need to continuously re-enter the project data.

Project collaboration is a major management issue that all construction companies have.  While manually, this is a nightmare, we can use technology to help with this problem; using fully integrated solutions to give greater visibility into projects.  Yes, implementing one of the collaborative systems, can be disruptive, but with careful planning this can be minimized. Project management solutions simply help the project manager keep everyone informed easily and effectively.

Take a look at some of these solutions, they drive effectiveness and can help with your very survival.

To learn more contact Asyma Solutions. 

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Topics: Construction, Contractors, Project profitability, Project Center



Greatly increase construction project efficiency by reducing paper

Posted by Keith Greeno on March 14, 2017 at 9:30 AM


While on a recent visit with a construction customer, they were showing me their new 500 sq ft filing room which contained nothing except the documentation on newer project files (the older ones were filed else where). Currently they photocopy each vendor invoice and then file them in the regular payable files as well as specific project files. All I could think about was what a waste of paper, space, time and energy. How much time was wasted filing and then trying to retrieve the required information? How timely was the project management decision making? How difficult was it to manage the project with all the information stored in the office?

Project management systems can not only eliminate this wasted time but also improve project management efficiency.  Think of a world where your project files are available anywhere, anytime, with the click of a button. A world where you can also control who gets access to which documents and all documents are tracked as to who has viewed them and when. Think of a world where all change orders and related plan changes are delivered to everyone who needs them. Think of a world where project closing documents are easily complied and delivered. This world is not in the distant future but available now; an example is at technology called Sage Project Center which not only controls projects but is integrated with the office accounting systems as well.

You might be thinking; “I don’t really trust web based or electronic project management systems, I have manual systems that handle this now.” The problem is, what if your competition uses them? Or during slow economic times you need to reduce costs wherever possible.  These systems simplify processes for projects from start to finish. Documents such as contracts, estimates, plans, blueprints and more can be stored much more efficiently and shared as required. It not only ensures that the correct people can review the documents but also it creates a trail so you can keep track of one another’s edits while preserving the document in its original form.  This whole process reduces admin time, manager/supervisor time and reduces costs.

The Project managers can greatly reduce the time to monitor a project, control change orders and subcontractors. The accounting department can better track revenue and expenses by being able to match invoices directly to the related projects. Reducing administration time of filing, trying to find/retrieve project files and specific documents.

With the use of systems like Sage Project Center you can significantly reduce paper while greatly improving the efficiency of your project management processes. Consider one of these systems and it will give you a jump on the competition and the importance of how going green is an environmental bonus for your business as well.

Chances are you now want information on this technology.  Contact Asyma today and we can help point you in the right direct.  Our team will also be at BUILDEX Edmonton, Booth 716 if you are attending this year and want to chat.  

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Topics: Construction, Contractors, Project profitability, Project Center