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

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.

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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

Technology Adoption Challenges for Construction Businesses

(This article reprinted with permission. Thanks to Josh Groves, President of jobtrio.com, the largest directory of construction contractors on the web. The goal of jobtrio.com is to efficiently connect contractors with consumers who truly value their services.)

Within any company, it is never easy to convince the workforce that a new, technological advancement has made an old way of doing things obsolete. For instance, no matter how my staff tried to explain to me the advantages of the new Windows 7 operating system over XP, I dragged my feet and resisted the change. From my observations, this aversion to technology adoption is far more present in the construction industry than any other major field.

For the most part, construction companies live and die by their continued presence and productivity on the jobsite. Typically, there is little thought given by management to company-wide initiatives or employee training because these acts would necessarily pull the workforce out of the field. Therefore, even if one day of training on a new technology might result in large future gains in employee efficiency, managers usually are not willing to take the risk.

I experienced this first hand as a construction industry Operations Manager for a medium-sized company. Every day I would watch at least thirty minutes get wasted by each employee as they struggled to determine which tasks were to be priorities for the work-day.  The fix seemed simple to me: adopt a basic, web-based system which could allow workers to login and view updated project management information. My estimate was that this system, taking into account training and maintenance, would pay for itself in a matter of a month.

Needless to say, I encountered tremendous resistance from my boss and from all of the workers in the field, and the initiative never got beyond my written proposal. 

This is just one example of what I experienced time and time again -- PDAs, driver GPS, field laptops -- I could never get my company to consider any of these technologies, and, from speaking with others whose businesses rely on their contractor's license, this sort of stone-walling is quite typical.  But, what is to be done? 

My first inclination is to say that until a younger, more tech-savvy generation of contractors who understand the value of technology investments steps into management positions, we aren't likely to see a change anytime soon.  However, if you are dedicated to your company's long-term success, it is wise to fight the good fight, and eventually your supervisors might adopt some of the new, money and time saving technologies which could be key to your company's survival.

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