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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



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