Technically it is About Organizing the Tech

Organizing technology

Tech is a wild and wooly beast that can be tamed. It really must be tamed if you’re to survive in the construction industry. And, taming tech means getting it organized in ways that serve you rather than overwhelm you.

When you think about the tools tech has altered, enhanced, or replaced, you’ll get a better idea of how important it is to use the organizing mantra, “A place for everything and everything in its place” even in the tech world.

For example, do you look for the phonebook when you need to find a new supplier, or do your fingers dance across the keys?

When you realize a change must be made quickly on a job site, do you jump in the truck and head that way, or do you make a phone call?

When tech is used properly, everything from how the progress photos are analyzed to how the numbers end up in the ledger columns has moved from slow and tedious to fast and insightful

The bottom line, getting your tech organized has the potential to make your construction business more productive and profitable.

Getting Productivity Tools Organized

Even for the “organizationally challenged,” there is a tendency among us humans to want to find patterns, sequences, and systems. You’ve probably heard it expressed like this, “There’s got to be a better way.” Or like this, “Someone ought to fix this mess.”

At first, I determined to organize the following list in order of importance. Then, I realized that the order of importance depends on two qualifying factors:

  1. The person using the technology
  2. The day of the week it is being used

Yeah, that challenging. So, I took the easy route and listed them alphabetically.

These are the types of technological productivity tools that should be in your construction business toolbox. Typically, these tools will be in the form of SaaS or apps. And, loosely speaking, they will form the tech stack used in your construction company.

  • Accounting and bookkeeping
  • Contact management
  • Email administration
  • Equipment and tool tracking
  • Meetings and communication
  • Project control
  • Social media oversight
  • Travel and expense tracking

These technological productivity tools can also provide the foundation of many of your construction business operating systems.

Clean out the technology productivity tools closet

Like cleaning out a physical closet, begin by dumping any apps or SaaS you no longer use.

Then, determine if you have duplicates or apps so similar; they become redundant. Toss the extras. If you’re uncertain or wary of deleting or doing away with SaaS or an app, you may need to revisit this article concerning Lost Cost Fallacy. 

Next, take the time to scan for viruses or performance issues.

After the process of clearing, it is time to review the current versions of SaaS or apps and decide if it’s time to upgrade.

Lastly, verify the integrity of your data backup.

Organizing electronic files

“The goal of electronic file management is to ensure that you can find what you’re looking for, even if you’re looking for it years after its creation.”

Susan Ward, writing for The Balance Small Business, lays out 10 File Management Tips to Keep Your Electronic Files Organized. 

Link over. Read it. I mean it! Ward presents good stuff.

For example, one of her tips, #6 Be Specific, is one I wish I had known (and practiced) years ago. She is talking about giving files logical, specific names, including dates. When I think about the time I’ve wasted looking for information within my files I cringe.

There are only two things I would add to Ward’s tips:

  1. Use a structure that suits the way you think and work.
  2. When writing systems and while training, emphasis should be placed on how you want things done, while still allowing for personal preference when the efficiency and outcome won’t be changed.

Parting words

This article is the third in a 4-part series concerning organizing your construction contracting business. You can find the first, Organizing Your Mind and the second, Organizing Time by linking over. The next part will be about organizing your physical space.

 

We desire to familiarize you with business concepts, which will make it easier for you to be a better commercial construction business owner through our blog posts. Some are new ways of looking at things, and others are refreshers. 

Schulte and Schulte Provides Accounting, Contract Document Management, and Advisory Board Level counsel for small to medium commercial construction subcontractors.

So you can Run With the Big Dogs! Call us 866-629-7735

Technology Isn’t the Focus, Business Is

Technology in your construction subcontracting business should be for making your business better.

Your technology choices

Finding technology that is relevant to running your subcontracting business is easy. Right? *Beep* Wrong! Finding tech is easy. Finding tech that is relevant is a totally different picture. Two starter questions to answer are:

  • Can we afford it?
  • Do we (really) need it?

Answer these further questions and they will help clarify the answers to the initial two:

  • Will this be advantageous to our clients?
  • How can this make it easier, more efficient, and more effective for our employees?
  • Does using this put us in better sync with our suppliers?
  • Do our strategic partners benefit through the use of this?

You see, putting tech to use makes sense, only if it benefits the relationships you’ve already established within the parameters of your construction business.

Technology is way cool

It’s readily apparent tech is causing things to change rapidly in the construction industry. Think about the brick laying robot.

Give heed to the construction safety wearables.

And of course, there is the much-lauded aerial intelligence tool found in the camera equipped drone.

Fun stuff!

Technology is good – yet beware the pitch

Not long ago, Tonya attended an event (Scaling New Heights 2018) dedicated to connecting the accounting world to the suppliers of accounting technology as well as the people who provide relevant services. There were classes, keynote speakers, networking occasions, time for product perusal, and friend making as well as friend reconnecting opportunities.

Tonya came back from Georgia with a refreshed mood and enlightened perspective concerning how to better serve our clients. All good stuff, right?

Well . . . there was this one tiny little rant. Seems a few of the developers and providers of SaaS and app technology hadn’t read her right at all when trying to make their pitch. When the pitch began with, “If you get your clients to use our ‘stuff,’ you’ll make more money,” she was Not Impressed. On the other hand, when the pitch began with, “You’ll be better able to serve your clients by adding our ‘stuff’ to your lineup,” she was ready to listen.

The Schulte and Schulte stance

In our dealings with our clients, our goal is to go beyond being a trusted advisor. It is our intention to become transformational advisors to each subcontractor with whom we have a relationship. We don’t simply plug in the numbers. Our intention with each client is to help them grow their construction business.

One example of how we better serve our clients is, we do the homework involved in finding the right tech to aid our clients so they become data-savvy business owners who, in turn, are then better able to serve their clients.

3 technology thoughts

Prioritize what is most relevant and valuable.

Finding just the right tech to make your life easier is not the goal. Finding just the right tech so you can serve your clients better is.

Look for people you can trust to advise you concerning your choices. (Like us!)

 

Interested in discovering if we’re the right fit for your accounting and systems needs? You can get in touch by calling 866-629-7735 or checking in here. Let us know you would like to take your place on our waiting list.

The Best Supporting Tech Nominee Is . . .

tech as supporting app for accounting software

Hubdoc! 

Whether or not you faithfully watch the annual Hollywood extravaganza known as the Academy Awards, you know there is a competitive division known as “Best Supporting Actor.” Much like the movie world, the real-life accounting world has tech. Tech which supports the big-name players. Those in the supporting rolls make the movie (or the accounting) so much better.

Let’s break this down

The best tools you own don’t perform well if they’re used with the wrong attachments. For example, your top-of-the line drill is no good if the wrong bit is inserted. Put the wrong blade in your table saw and there will be trouble. If using the correct accessories is important in the shop or on the jobsite, using the correct accessories in your office tech stack is just as important. By choosing the correct accessories for your subcontractor office and accounting needs, you begin to develop your tech stack.

What is a tech stack?

Consider the Apple or Google app stores that provide add-on apps for smart phones. The basic tool is your phone. The tech stack you create through adding the apps gives you a well-rounded and useful tool. A tool for getting many things done outside of simply making phone calls. In the same manner, you can drop in at the QuickBooks app store and find a plethora of “accessories” to add to your accounting software.

Which brings us back to Hubdoc

If you took time to peek at the offerings for apps on the QuickBooks page you likely noticed Hubdoc among the mix. And, the simple explanation of what Hubdoc does is listed on that page as, “Your key financial docs in one place automatically.” What they say is true, yet it is best not to skim over that brief sentence and move on. If I could give you a drum-roll right here I would. This is really rather astounding when you think about it.

How much time do you, your office staff, and your project managers waste scrambling to find minor as well as major pieces of your accounting information? How many people or desks do you disturb, how many places do you search in your digital or physical spaces to gather up all the info you need for your bookkeeper?

Wouldn’t you welcome a better way to collect, store, and organize your documents? Put simply, Hubdoc can save you valuable time and help you increase efficiency.

Next week I’ll dive deeper into Hubdoc. It is a fantastic accessory which aids your ability to organize and systemize your construction office. Oh yeah, by the way, here are some of the things our clients have said to us about Hubdoc:

“Oh man, this is going to make my job so much easier.”

“That’s it? Wow, this way is so much better than what we’ve been doing.”

“I didn’t know how much better this would be until you showed me.”

Your call to action

Give Schulte and Schulte a call today so you can take your spot on our waiting list.  480-442-4032 or connect with us here.

Avoid Construction Business Overwhelm

Avoid overwhelm in your construction business. Delegate, Designate, Automate, Eliminate.

Avoid overwhelm in your construction business. Delegate, Designate, Automate, Eliminate.

I grew up hearing this phrase, “Let go and let God.” The jist of the phrase is to allow God to handle the things you can’t. It is a simple concept to understand, yet a devilishly difficult discipline to achieve. And, if we have a difficult time allowing God (you know – the guy who can do ANYTHING) to handle things for us, how much harder it is to allow people to take over the things we’re finding difficult to deal with.

Yet, if you’re serious about guiding your construction company to growth and sustainability, you’re going to have to “let go, and let other people.”

You choose

Strategy One – Micromanage. Micromanaging is an ultimately self-defeating strategy. It is a major time waster for you and an ultimate morale defeater for those in your employee.

Strategy Two – Personal Growth. Personal growth for both you and your employees will broaden your horizons exponentially. You become a more expert and powerful leader and your employees gain skills and knowledge which make them more valuable to you.

You’re probably worried that:

  1. The work won’t be done to your exacting standards
  2. It will take longer to teach someone else to do than just doing it yourself
  3. This is cruddy work no one wants to do
  4. It will cost too much
  5. Some people can’t be trusted

The answer is:

  1. It might not be done to your exacting standards. It may take some time to get others up to the standard you would prefer. Yet, if you’ve no time left to get it done, it isn’t getting done at all. Give someone else the opportunity.
  2. There is a possibility it will take time to teach someone to do it. Yet, once they’re taught, you no longer need worry about it. Or, it could be someone will step to the plate and get it done with little to no training. Other people have skills too, you know. 😉
  3. Just as one man’s trash is another’s treasure, one man’s cruddy job is another’s fun task.
  4. Sure enough, there may be costs associated with getting things done you no longer have time or skills for. Weigh the costs. If it takes you longer to do something with a less than satisfactory result, why hang onto it?
  5. It is true, some people can’t be trusted. Weed them out. Find others who can be trusted and entrust them with the tasks at hand.

If you frequently feel frazzled and are left wondering which direction to turn before taking the next step, you’re a good candidate for learning the 4 “Ates” of Successful Construction Company Owners. Even if you think you already delegate effectively, consider you may have room for growth in this area. It’s time to learn about the four “ates.”

The 4 “ates” of Successful Construction Company Owners

  1. Delegate
  2. Designate
  3. Automate
  4. Eliminate

Which leads to the over-all “ate” – Get it off your plate!

Delegate – to those already in your employ

Delegating will often create a short-term cost, which leads to the creation of long-term benefits. Getting really good at empowering others to deliver their best, builds your capacity to get the job done through the contributions of others.

Fast Company and The Art of Manliness both weigh in with good articles concerning the art of delegating well. Jayson DeMers, in his article found on the Inc. website gives you 7 Strategies for Delegating Better and Getting More Done.

Delegation is more than just a management concept. It is a skill (which can be learned) and will allow you to move beyond the land of overwhelm into the realm of getting-work-completed-in-a-timely-and-productive-manner.

Designate – to new hires or outsource service providers

As you go along the path of building your construction business you find there are tasks or skills needed for which you have neither time nor competence to address. Consider:

  • Appointment scheduling
  • Answering phones
  • Marketing
  • Accounting
  • Web design and maintenance
  • Content creation
  • Tools, parts, and supplies running
  • Sales
  • Janitorial duties
  • Sales training
  • Tax preparation
  • Human resources duties

Sometimes it is as easy as hiring someone to take care of some of the tasks. Janitorial and runner both come to mind (and might even be carried out by the same person.) At other times, it will be better to outsource tasks which include skills or knowledge you don’t have. Web design and maintenance, accounting, and human resources are all candidates for the outsource solution.

What are you least efficient and effective at completing?

Which tasks are you most likely to put off until the last minute, thereby never giving them the full attention they deserve?

What have you been limping along doing and now know it is time to bring on a pro in order to have the task done properly?

Answer those questions and you’re on your way to determining the type of person you should hire or the outsource solution provider you should engage.

Automate – through tech

How long has it been since you used a phone book, bothered with a set of encyclopedias, pounded away on a typewriter, or payed for your groceries with a check?

Your personal as well as your business life are both being disrupted by technology. Yet, the construction industry as a whole has been seen dragging its feet in the tech world.

Beware, the light is dawning on many. It is no longer a matter of stepping ahead of the competition through the use of tech; it is a matter of being left behind through the neglect of tech.

Let’s face it, there must be an investment of your time to investigate your options and an investment of your dollars to implement new technology across your construction company. Yet, making that investment pays off. It pays off in three bold ways:

  1. Increased reliability
  2. Improved performance
  3. New capabilities through new functions

As far as mobility? Your phone alone has taught you the benefit of a tech device which allows you to be more mobile.

Almost any tech you bring into your business is going to come with a built-in learning curve. Yet, once you and your employees get over the hurdle of learning the new tech both you and they will be better equipped to perform your individual job functions better.

Both GetApp and Capterra list a plethora of SaaS and apps to choose from for your construction company. Look them over, you’re likely to find several options that will be of use to you.

Eliminate – the tasks, duties, or systems that no longer work

Sometimes it is difficult to determine which tasks, duties, or systems are not working for you. Yet, you can look at a few symptoms which will, at the very least, give you a heads-up that something is wrong.

  • Your clients complain about poor quality or bad service
  • Your employees are constantly frustrated
  • Some work gets duplicated and some work is left undone
  • Your costs increase (for example, there is a constant need for rework)
  • Resources are wasted
  • Bottlenecks develop
  • You’re frustrated

As you grow your construction business you’ll find you have new goals, you use new technology, the business environment changes, and your established systems often become inefficient or outdated.

Consider these two examples of when a system isn’t working:

  • Your people use email instead of the CRM you provided for them.
  • You put documents in Dropbox rather than on the intranet.

Or think about these time disrupters:

  • You don’t have quick access to key tasks.
  • You’re constantly interrupted by people asking the same question over and over.
  • Meetings run too long and don’t have a specific agenda.
  • You’re disrupted by email notifications throughout the day.
  • You don’t have a “hard stop” to end your work day.

Make a decision to eliminate the tasks, duties, and systems which aren’t aiding you in growing your construction business. Take the time to think it through then begin getting rid of the outdated, old fashioned, or broken pieces of your work day.

Your call to action

Learn how a team dedicated to helping construction contractors avoid overwhelm and conquer their accounting needs can best serve you. We’ll help you get it off your plate. Give Schulte and Schulte a call today so you can take your spot on our waiting list.  480-442-4032 or Toll Free: 866-629-7735

Football + Accounting + Construction Contractor

So . . . your kid is on his high school football team. And your team is in The Game! They’re playing well! And so is the other team. It is exciting! They’re in the last few minutes of the fourth quarter. Your team has been given the ball. If they make this touch down your team wins! The entire crowd (all those parents, siblings, and friends  wearing the school colors) is standing, waving, shouting. You’re becoming hoarse with the yelling, you’re tense in every fiber of your being, right along with everyone around you.

Your team’s coach is ready for this. He has been working with and preparing the team just for this fabulous victory – so he looks around, thinks quickly, points at just the “right” players . . . and sends in the defensive squad.

What???

What is going on here? Everyone knows it is time to get the offense out there on the field. It is time for them to strut their stuff. It is time to make that touchdown and take home the win!

For way too long, too many Construction Contractors and Service Business Owners have been playing with only half a team, their defensive team, when it comes to their accounting. The game is on, it is getting tense, it is time to make that game winning touchdown – and it is time to put your offense on the field.

Enter team offense!

We at Schulte and Schulte work to take our clients to an accounting stance which is proactive rather than the reactive. We work hard to make sure our clients take home the win.

You get our team to work with you to help you reach your goals, scale your construction contracting business, and be as profitable as possible. The front-line tech that allows us to automate across the board and to help you get better, more up to date, more accurate data, more quickly means you have an offensive team ready for the challenge.

Are you ready to win?

We’re ready to work with you to see it happen! Learn more about what we do, how we do it, and how you can get in on it.  480-442-4032 or Toll Free: 866-629-7735