Building an Efficient Construction Office – Part 3

Efficient construction contracting planning.

Efficient construction contracting planning.

This is the third in a 3-part series dealing with efficiency in a construction contracting office. The first installment can be found here. And, the second here.

At this point you’ve begun to understand the importance of working in a pleasant atmosphere and having documented processes. You get that organized and standardized within your construction business means it will run more efficiently. Yet, there are still some issues to be dealt with.

How do you know where to start in developing processes for the systems?

There are at least three different methods to help you decide.

  1. Start with simple. Begin with the process which is likely to have the fewest action steps involved in order to get your feet wet.

 

  1. Triage your systems candidates. Which system is giving you the most trouble and needs to be addressed soon?

 

  1. Use the template associated with a particular system found in the SaaS you’re using for developing and documenting processes. (I know, that came out of the blue. So, hang tight, I’m going to give you more information about this really cool tool.)

There’s a SaaS for that

We, at Schulte and Schulte were blessed to find a perfect solution for our accounting business almost from inception. We use Aero Workflow (a SaaS product) to create, store, and use the documentation we need for many of our systems.  There is a bit of a learning curve involved with using Aero, yet it is a small hurdle to overcome when you consider the advantage we’ve achieved in being better able to serve our clients. There are a number of processing templates we can use. We can base a customized process off a standard template. Plus, we’re able to create from start-to-finish our own accounting processes to meet the needs of our individual clients.

Beyond that, we are also able to use Aero to designate tasks, to assign and track projects, to determine how long a task or project took to complete, and along with a host of other benefits we’re more efficient. Pretty cool, huh?

Some efficiency targeted SaaS platforms for you to choose from

There may be other similar SaaS platforms for you to choose from, but these four are all pretty well known, and all seem to have components which would be helpful for a number of different construction office applications. Plus, each of them offers a basic or starter level at no charge. That way you can look them over, play around with them, and decide which you’re most comfortable with. You can determine which would best serve your needs. Finally, none of them seems over-the-top expensive – although there is some difference in their pricing.  You can decide if Process Street,  Tallyfy,  Asana,  or Trello would be a good match for your office.

Develop a tech stack

A tech stack is the assortment of technical tools chosen to aid in the use of a foundational SaaS platform.

For example, Schulte and Schulte uses QuickBooks Online  for our foundational platform. And because we believe simplicity serves us well, our tech stack includes only Aero Workflow, Hubdoc, and GSuite. (We were recently invited to be part of a beta testing group for Client Hub and are looking forward to determining how well it will serve us as well as our clients.)

The tech stack we recommend for our clients includes QuickBooks Online, Hubdoc, and Knowify.

Knowify?

“Knowify is a SaaS platform for construction contractors that provides job management tools and real-time business intelligence to help them streamline their business processes, take on more jobs and ultimately run a more profitable business.” I hijacked the previous sentence from a SaaS comparison site because I think it pretty well describes Knowify. What it doesn’t mention is that Knowify is much more reasonably priced than its competitors. (By the way, our clients receive a discount on the Knowify pricing by virtue of our professional relationship with Knowify.)

Take a look at the construction-centric systems you’ll find housed in the Knowify SaaS.

  • Bid Management
  • Billing and Invoicing
  • Change Orders
  • Commercial
  • Contract Management
  • Document Management
  • Job Scheduling
  • Lead Management
  • Residential
  • Subcontractor Management
  • Submittal Management
  • Supplier Management
  • Task Management
  • Time Sheets

Did I just hear you breathe a sigh of relief? I know, because we’ve heard it time after time when we’ve introduced our clients to the robust system they can put to use right away in making their construction contracting business more efficient through the use of Knowify.

In conclusion

There you have it. By upgrading your surroundings, understanding the importance of systems and processes, and choosing the right Software as a Service (SaaS) you’re well on your way to becoming more efficient and better able to serve your customers.

We wouldn’t be any good at all if you need someone to paint your office, we’re pretty good at passing on what we’ve learned about running an office, and we’re excellent at helping you get a handle on your accounting needs.

Pick up the phone and give us a call Toll Free: 866-629-7735 or contact us here.

Running an Efficient Construction Office – Part 1

Efficiency in your office basics.

Efficiency in your office basics.

Efficiency in the construction office

Efficiency for the sake of efficiency isn’t enough. As a project-based organization, you often face a struggle with factors such as time, cost, and quality on each individual job site. Therefore, being efficient and effective in the office becomes paramount to supporting all the needs associated with getting the jobs, performing the jobs, and getting paid for the jobs.

Let’s start with Return on Investment

Yes, there is an ROI factor connected to the level of efficiency in your construction office. And it will be best if you have a holistic view of the hard ROI and the indirect or so-called “soft ROI.”

Because you will be able to see the hard ROI in the numbers, I’ll focus here on the soft ROI. Examples of long-term soft success metrics to look for are:

  • Escalation of employee productivity
  • Enhancement of company morale
  • Decrease in work related stress levels
  • Increase in company culture awareness
  • Upsurge in employee wellbeing
  • Improved brand perception and reputation
  • Boost in word of mouth advertising

These soft metrics aren’t as easy to quantify or measure. Yet, set against your immediate and long-term financial goals, they are equally important to consider.

Pour the Foundation

Before we get to system and process improvement (covered later in this series) we’ll delve into some overall office basics which play into the goal of better office efficiency. It doesn’t matter if your office is in your home, shop, or another stand-alone location, these ideas will work. Some of the recommendations will involve more effort as well as a monetary comment. Others are so simple you’ll probably wonder why you hadn’t been using them already.

Color

Painting the office walls is neither simple nor quick, yet it is bound to have an effect on your and your employees attitude as well as efficiency. This brief article from Entrepreneur will give you a quick guide to which colors will serve your office best.

Lighting

From eye strain to headaches and a few other glitches in-between, it seems that improper lighting is the likely culprit in many offices. The folks at Inc. mention five ways lighting can improve mood, productivity, and health. Their second point about making lighting more flexible is likely to be the least capital outlay for the most intrinsic gain.

Temperature

The folks at PGi offer a bit of office temperature advice that might surprise you. Take a look. Even though they rely on scientific research to make their recommendation, you may wish to consider providing office scarves, sweaters, even blankets part of the year and a few of these gadgets during the summer months if you have two or more people sharing office space. BTW, the makers of the facial spray from Mario Badescu (mentioned in the link above) recommend keeping the spray in the refrigerator for “an extra refreshing and cooling boost.”  And yes, since I live in the wilds of the Arizona desert I see that as a majorly good idea.

View and décor

Gloomy is as gloomy does. If your offices are dark or otherwise constrained, being efficient isn’t likely to be your strong point. Considering both the color and lighting advice above is a good starting point. From there, other simple ways to add to your view and décor are by bringing in plants, adding beautiful decorative objects, placing intriguing wall art, or simply placing framed photos of your loved ones on your desk. Do you have a small collection worth showing off? Consider displaying it in your office for your own as well as the enjoyment of visitors. If you have the funds and the desire to go all out, then by all means find an interior decorator who will understand your corporate identity and work with you to make all your interior spaces rock.

Scents

Lisa Evans over at Entrepreneur says, “Aromatherapy probably isn’t the first tool you think of to help boost your productivity and grow your business, but maybe it should be.” She goes on to describe various reasons for introducing scent into your office as well as ways to do so that won’t be offensive to others.

Stress balls and fidget spinners

OK, I saved this for last, because I like it – and it seemed like fun to me. Yet, I know what you may be thinking. What do non-productive gadgets have to do with efficiency?  There is evidence that “stress toys” may actually help folks focus on their work. While the jury is still out, it may be worth the few dollars to pick up a stress toy (or 5 – depending on your office size *wink*) and give it a try. If “calm down” is the directive you’d like to give yourself or someone in your office, perhaps having a fidget widget nearby is an acceptable answer.

In the next part of this 3-part series we’ll delve into effective planning methods for becoming more efficient in your construction contracting office.

In the meantime, you can get in on the accounting service we provide (which comes with systems and processes as part of the package) by getting in touch here.