How can scheduling and project management software help your construction business to succeed?

(Article reprinted with permission by Jim Beadman)

A construction project could turn into a giant headache without the proper organization. The project could run late, the work could be unsatisfactory, and money could potentially be lost. Computers have proven to be great tools for organizing work and the right software can have a striking effect on any business. Organization can make or break a construction business, and it often does. Therefore, it really pays to invest in project management software.

In order to see how such software can help a construction business thrive, it helps to start at the beginning. A business that uses a good software application will be able to keep track of previous estimates and have them handy at all times. No more fumbling through a messy cabinet full of old documents. At the same time, a potential customer is much more likely to trust the services of a construction business that is organized and has the appearance of being so. This is exactly what project management software can offer even before a project commences. When a potential customer is handed a fully computer-generated estimate, construction schedule or rich text construction document (well worded contract, for instance) in a timely fashion, they will be impressed, especially if other companies they're considering didn't go through the trouble of doing that.

Once a customer decides on a business that appears to be organized, it will be up to the business to actually be organized. Project management software is just the tool to meet that goal. Once all projects are entered into the system, there will be no more surprises. The business will know exactly which project are coming up and which need to be given priority. Knowing, in this case, is more than half the battle. It greatly benefits construction to be able to see the bigger picture at a glance.

Such software also connects the individual contractors involved in the job, most of the time through email, fax, or both. When a project is large enough, there may be a great many people to keep in touch with. It can be expensive to have staff whose sole purpose is to keep people notified of their duties. Not only that, it can be prone to human error. The appropriate project management software on the other hand can inform the individuals of their upcoming jobs automatically and reliably via email and fax. The contractors involved in the project may even be able to use the software themselves to contact  management and to see what jobs they have coming up.

As touched on earlier, such management software can also act as a central repository of important documents. It could be especially useful if it can be accessed through the internet. A contractor or client may need to peruse an important document to refresh their memory about certain important details. They could go through the trouble of heading over to the management's office or they can try asking the construction company to take time out of their busy schedule to fax it over. Time and money can be saved by letting the client have access to these important documents through the project management software and the internet.

Ultimately, a construction business is actually at a disadvantage if they don't use all of the available resources at their disposal. If a construction business wants to succeed, they'll make scheduling and project management software a part of their daily operations.

About the Author:

Jim Beadman is the Managing Director of Construction Chemicals UK Ltd, who are experts in their field – from basement conversions for the serious renovator to DIY timber treatment products for protecting your home from insects and mold. With depots around the UK and an in-house chemistry specialist, they are the ideal partners for anyone wishing to undertake a renovation project, amateur or professional. When Jim isn’t working full-time helping people to transform their homes, he uses his experience to create articles which can be found around the Internet and organizes charity events from his home in Leicestershire, UK.

 Scott Hutchinson
 scott@builditsystems.com
 1 866 585 5050 ext 1

BuildIT Software Update - version 4.9 update (April 2010)

Construction Scheduling Just Got Easier!

This release is all about better scheduling: giving you better visibility into your projects.

Most folks come to BuildIT looking for a scheduling solution and we strive to deliver powerful (yet easy) tools for managing your projects. A good old fashioned calendar is still a common, understandable tool for seeing what happens when, and how tasks relate to each other - and now you can work with your schedule in a calendar view!

Here's how to view your schedule in a calendar format:

1. Click the "schedule" tab.
2. On the left menu, choose between "calendar:start date" or "calendar:due date" of "calendar:all dates".
3. Presto: you have all the controls you had with the Gantt and List views, but in a familiar Calendar format.

:: You can go to a specific month or go ahead or back in 1 or 4 week jumps.
:: You can set the default to the number of weeks you would like to see at a time in the task preferences.
:: Create a task for a specific date by click on the respective "new" button.

See your tasks in a familiar calendar view, along with the status of each task indicated by the appropriate color. This color status is now a new option in the "list" and "list and details" view of your tasks (you'll need to go to your task preferences to turn it on).

You can still view your tasks by clicking the "calendar" tab, and see how your tasks relate to your calendar appointments. More options. More power. Better visibility. All translates to better scheduling.

Since our last user update, here are some highlights of what we've added:

:: Favorites/Shortcuts: on the Files tab, you can create favorites that can appear as job files, task files, send as "sharing links", and more. Want your installer to see video on how to do the job "right"? - just add the favorite as a task file!

:: PDF letterhead, automatically generated from your company information in SETUP - to view, click the "docs" tab, then click "letterhead settings" in the lower left - then click the buttons to the right of "view generated letterhead". If you want a more customized letterhead, let us know.

:: On the Job List you now have the option to default your job list to Current And Future jobs - no point in seeing all your PAST and LOST jobs all the time - just display what's hot.

:: Easily send email to one contact who may have 2 or more email addresses - just edit their contact info and add additional email addresses separated by a semi-colon ";" This same method can be used to create "group contacts", allowing you to send one email to many, just by clicking one contact.

:: Recurring appointments: simply create a calendar appointment, and then click the appropriate "SAVE AND CLONE" button as many times as you need duplicate appointments.

A huge range of professional PDF documents are coming up: The existing text-based BuildIT document generator has served many of our customers well over the years, generating nearly 100,000 documents to date! These new "super docs" will merge contact, user and project information to customized PDF documents, along with your letterhead and logo, giving you a huge step-up in presentation.

We'll be releasing a host of standard PDF construction docs (change orders, contracts, invoices and far more). Plus, as a BuildIT customer, you can have your own construction documents converted over to "super doc" format. Save time, be more consistent and professional.

Need a schedule in PDF format? More and more first time BuildIT users are asking for PDF schedules - for their clients, design professionals, bankers, and so on. Just a reminder, BuildIT is here to help with this, and we can quickly convert your schedule in BuildIT to a PDF, in the smallest size paper that will suit that particular schedule. And, if need be, we can "tile" the schedule, and have it print to a number of standard sized sheets, that you can piece together like a puzzle.

Check it out a small sample PDF schedule at this link:

http://www.builditsystems.com/Features/SampleSchedule.pdf

 Scott Hutchinson
 scott@builditsystems.com
 1 866 585 5050 ext 1

BuildIT - Return on investment is a "no-brainer"

When was the last time you "wasted" money on something?

You took some hard earning money, bought a widget that ultimately gave you nothing in return, other than the initial feeling that you may get something out of it at some point.

  • the exercise machine that is collecting dust (and clothes)
  • that food mixer appliance that looked so easy on the infomercial but when you use it - not so easy, so you go back to the knife and cutting board
  • that stock you bought, thanks to a tip from your buddy - you're still waiting that puppy to climb back up to the purchase price
  • that box of software you bought a few years ago that promised the world, and now it's a bookend on your shelf

OK, now that I've re-opened a wound, let's cut to the chase.

Everyone comes to BuildIT looking for one thing - a solution to a problem. Finding the right solution will put money back into your jeans, or time back into your life, or will reduce the stresses of running your business... or if you're lucky, ALL 3 at the same time.

You part with your hard earned dollar to subscribe to BuildIT; mentally you are doing the math - the "what's in it for me" equation. You need to see a major return on investment, and you need to experience that return (make it yours) right out of the gate.

It's the story of many of our customers... and it can be your story too !!

Let's look at ways you can win with BuildIT.

1. Saving money - miscommunication

Every job you do requires a number of tasks, and responsibilities from other parties. The more tasks required, and the more people involved, the more mistakes will occur. Those mistakes generally are caused by miscommunication of some sort. Communication issues are the main cause of grief, and profit loss. This is an undeniable fact. Ask yourself, where do problems occur that cost you $$ or time, and chances are, you'll attribute that to a breakdown in communication.

BuildIT is the perfect solution for keeping you and others "on track". Any and all issues are documented in one place, tied to the job. There is no mistaking who is responsible for what, who said what, what was to be built and when - all that information IF YOU TAKE THE TIME TO ENTER IT, is in one place, and there to serve your interests down the road.

Scott Sedam of True North Consulting, an advisor to high volume homebuilders, claims from his organization's research that for every residential construction job, there are about 30 - 35 subcontractors and vendors. There is typically one mistake that takes place for every 5 outside people involved in the project, so you can expect 6 - 7 mistakes per job. These mistakes, thanks in large part to miscommunication (not getting the information in time, red lined drawings that are unclear, building off outdated specs or schedules, etc.) WILL COST YOU time, money and aggravation. And the dollar cost will be well in excess of what our typical customer would pay for subscribing to BuildIT for a year.

Use BuildIT properly (even minimally), and you will reduce errors, and have a back up that protects your interests should errors occur, and passes the onus of responsibility on to the other party.

2. Saving money - labor

Think about what it costs you for a part time or full time "warm body" to help with the "administrivia" of running your business. Now imagine a full time office assistant that never calls in sick, is available 24/7, does not give you "attitude", does not spend hours you pay this person each month checking Facebook, Twitter, playing Solitaire, checking CNN's latest headlines, etc., does not contribute to shrinkage, does not increase your risk of embezzlement - and you get this for a whole month, at a fraction of the cost of that "warm body" (perhaps, 1 to 2 hours' wages of that person's time and loading) !! Our customers make this claim that BuildIT saves them $1000's per month in wages. I calculated with one customer in Texas that his return on investment with BuildIT was 47 to 1 - think about it - for every $1 he spends on BuildIT, he saves $47. Do the math.

Having said this, we recognize that you do need adequate levels of staffing to run your business effectively, and office administrators do play a vital role in the operations of many small to mid sized contracting businesses. BuildIT can augment your business, assist your team with becoming more organized for success, and even give your office administrators a tool to help them accomplish their tasks quicker and with less error. Each person knows where to go for the information, where to post the information, and this will free up your staff to do more valuable functions that drive your business forward in terms of professionalism and profitability.

3. Making money - new revenue

We have customers who use BuildIT to their advantage - to get new business.

How?

Simple. You're competing with other companies offering a similar product. Your price may be in line with theirs. What distinguishes you from the other guy? If you use the worn out platitudes like "we're honest", "integrity in everything we do", "unsurpassed customer service", your customers will blow right by. You need something that truly sets you apart.

Professionalism - customers want to do business with someone that looks good, and gives them the "feeling" that they're dealing with the pros. You use the many construction document templates in BuildIT, which can be printed off, or emailed, showing your letterhead and all the details. AND, you let them know about a system that will keep them informed 24/7 about their project, where you are at any point in the schedule, and a place where they can view any files pertaining to the job.

You offer them the following:

"Mr. Future Customer, if you choose us, we have a web based service that will allow you to view your project schedule at any time of the day. Through this system, you can see how your job is progressing, and you can even communicate with us on any particular task on the schedule. I will also post files for you to review - contracts, specifications, progress reporting, pictures - anything that you need to see along the way will be available through this service. There is no website to remember, no username and password to maintain - just check your email and I'll send you a link."

All things being equal, by you offering this service, you are now set apart from 95% + of your competitors who haven't yet graduated to web based construction tools like BuildIT.

4. Saving Time

Have you ever calculated what your time is worth, per hour?

Have you ever calculated how much time you would save on each project if you carved off, say, 5% of the time?

Time is money - do the math. And start saving time today by using BuildIT. Take the time saved and invest it in new business. New business = new revenue = increased profits for the year.

Do this, and then call us with your answer so we can brag even more about how BuildIT contributes to our customers' bottom line.

----------------------------------

In short, you're not here to buy technology because it's cool (although, we admit, it is a cool tool). It HAS to either save you time, make you $$, help you avoid embarrassment or costly call backs, or help you get the next job and have a leg up on your competition.

Put it to the test today - we'll partner with you, and help you get some success under your belt.

 Scott Hutchinson
 scott@builditsystems.com
 1 866 585 5050 ext 1