BuildIT Software Update – version 2010.09 (September 2010)

“BuildIT Vets” know that our size and structure allows us to be agile, responsive, and economical for our customers.  And that feedback from our users is highly valued at BuildIT – often directly driving improvements and core development.  Our overall objectives – organizing, scheduling, and communicating – guides our team, and our priorities.

We are pleased to introduce that our latest version is available now and extends our toolset – making BuildIT more powerful, more rewarding, and more profitable for our users.

Scheduling – new Gantt “power bar”

Most BuildIT users create and update their schedule using the Gantt view (sometimes called a bar chart or construction timeline view).

With the new Gantt “power bar”, launched by clicking the button below the task name (and to the right of the # of working days), you can quickly make changes to that particular task:

  • Increase or decrease the duration of the task
  • Move the task forward or back by a day or a full week
  • Toggle the highlight of the task
  • Delete the task
  • Add contacts to the task

You’ll see the changes immediately upon clicking the buttons - no need to wait for the entire screen to refresh, nor do you need to open the entire task up. This will shave minutes off your scheduling daily, which adds up to hours saved at the end of the month.

PDF “super docs

PDF (or Adobe) documents have become an industry standard.  Contractors recognize that documentation is a big deal – it shows your professionalism and covers your butt, but proper documentation can be a pain in the butt to create.  It’s also one of the top reasons BuildIT customers subscribe to our service: we help our users create, store, share and send documents.

We are introducing a full range of cleanly formatted industry standard PDF document templates – or “super docs" – and more are on the way!

Super docs simply look better – much easier on the eyes – they work better too. They have your letterhead (automatically generated or fully customized). They can be saved in BuildIT or on your computer, and emailed to your contacts (either locked or editable).

Need a custom super doc? No problem: we help our customers create custom documents for their exclusive use – just email us your favorites (if you don’t already see what you need in the list of available templates) and we’ll get back to you.

In BuildIT simply click [Create New] > [Document].  Then look for the templates that have «PDF» to the right of their name, or simply uncheck the “text templates” and you’ll see just the super docs (more are being added all the time).

 

Some other new features since our last update:

1. Creating a new contact from an email – notice the new icon next to an email address in an inbound email? Click on it, and launch a new contact edit window, with that email address already filled in. Just enter additional contact details and save.

2. To do’s – they can now be moved to, or copied to, a different job. Use the yellow “do this” drop down menu for this feature.

3.  Favorites – you can now add a favorite in your “files” tab – just click on the button and type in or copy your link in the appropriate field. Create a link to a website and share that to your users, contacts, and by email.

4.  Calendar view on "schedule" tab - you can now view your tasks in a more familiar format.

5.  Email "read/unread" toggle - are your unread emails piling up, but you still wish to keep them on the system? Or have you viewed an email but wish to keep that hot potato hot by having it display as "unread"? Then use the new "do this" control to set checked emails to read/unread.

6.  We've added some more user account types - employee access accounts that are "email only", customer access accounts that can only view detail on ONE job. These user accounts are offered at discounted rates and may address some situations in your company where you want to restrict access to information but still keep key people "in the loop".

7. Have you checked your preferences?  We’ve added a bunch of new options in the last few months.  Have a look around to see if BuildIT is optimally configured to the way you work.

8. Infrastructure – you’ve come to expect that when you log into BuildIT, it works… every time.  To make that possible, we are constantly upgrading hardware and software components at our hosting facility. We’ve been known to do some heroic things at wee hours of the morning, so that when you log in the following morning, you are greeted by the login screen… and you get in. That’s a major benefit to a hosted service – we take care of the hardware requirements, you just use the system, knowing that you’re always working off the most up-to-date version.

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

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