Real-Time Labor Costs Improve Your Bottom Line

Real Time ReportingAny contractor knows that successful project management hinges on labor. That’s not to say that smart material purchases and inventory control don’t also play a role in job profitability. However, unproductive labor will always kill profit, which is why knowing your real-time labor costs can improve your bottom line. Continue reading

Three Factors That Can Determine Whether Your Equipment is Helping You Profit

Equipment Should ContributeDo you question whether the equipment in your construction fleet is profitable or if you should be renting equipment as needed instead? Do you have a piece of equipment that often sits idle for months and don’t know whether to sell it or hold onto it – just in case? Continue reading

Common Errors in Converting to New Construction Accounting Software

Napkin Floor PlanA great writer once said, “Beginnings are always messy,” and this is often true in the construction industry. Some of our most trying events happen at the beginning of a new project, which can make the whole project messy from day one. However, with the proper plan, potential pitfalls can usually be avoided. Continue reading

6 Ways Construction Jobs Lose Money to Unproductive Labor

Kenwood Town CenterTo appreciate how construction firms can make a greater profit on projects, you first need to recognize that one of the most common way to lose money is with unproductive labor. Downtime, overtime and reworking a project will kill profits – and oftentimes, morale. Continue reading

CRMs: Generating More Leads, Sales and Happy Customers for Contractors

HandshakeWho doesn’t want to generate more leads, close more sales and create an environment of happy customers? We all do! Because the life-cycle of any given project can be drawn out over months or years, your goal should be to build solid relationships with your customers. When you keep your customers happy, you can keep projects flowing with repeat business. This is where a CRM comes into play. Continue reading

Prevent Major Construction Losses with a Solid Job Costing Structure

Have a PlanIn the construction industry, cash flow is essential to staying viable in a competitive market. Even some of the most profitable construction firms have gone out of business because of poor cash flow management.

Perhaps the reason cash flow is so difficult in construction is that by the time a job is awarded, significant resources have already been invested into it – from the time spent on the lengthy bidding process, to manpower on the job site, to purchasing materials and renting equipment. Often, these expense are incurred months before ever seeing a payment. Continue reading

Why You’re Running Out of Time to Save Big on Taxes through New Software

Uncle SamSection 179 Deductions and Bonus Depreciation have been used extensively in the construction industry. Both grant your company big savings on taxes as a result of any major equipment purchases you’ve made in the tax year. Accounting and project management software is included in the equipment that qualifies, and it’s been one of the most popular routes that contractors have taken to seize this opportunity. Continue reading

7 Tips for Successful Software Implementation

Many contractors delay purchasing new construction accounting software because of the resulting growing pains, but successful software implementation is similar to a successful project: thoughtful planning coupled with skilled execution results in greater profitability for your company. Since you already know how to build profitable projects, applying basic construction logic to your software implementation lessens the pain so you can move forward with anticipation instead of dread. Keeping the construction process in mind, here are seven tips for a successful software implementation.

1. Define Success Up Front

The project estimate defines success by establishing a budget with an anticipated profit margin before the job contract is even won. Although defining success as it relates to your software implementation isn’t so straightforward, it’s still important to establish guidelines for measuring success. If you don’t define the meaning of success, how will you know if you’ve achieved it?

The easiest way to define a successful software implementation is to identify existing procedures that aren’t working and outline how you will improve them. For example, if you have a labor-intense, spreadsheet-based work-in-progress (WIP) reporting system, one of your definitions of success could be to replace it with an automated process that eliminates duplicate effort and takes only a few seconds to complete. In this case, success is easily measurable.

Invoice approval is another example. If you’re replacing manual invoice routing with an electronic invoice approval system, success might be defined as achieving approval 50 percent faster while eliminating lost or misplaced invoices. This same concept can be applied to all of your procedures, whether they are related to jobs, employees or equipment.

2. Spend Time Up Front Planning Your Coding Structure

Pre-planning is an important part of both a construction project and a software conversion. A new software implementation is the perfect time to establish a more logical and standardized coding structure for your jobs, general ledger, vendors and customers, especially if you are migrating from a legacy system with limited flexibility or a generic accounting program that offers little to no structure.

A standardized coding structure allows you to gain greater business insight through your software’s reporting system. For example, with a departmentalized general ledger structure, you can quickly access specific information on a single department, such as your service department. Standardized codes also let you compare data across all jobs, because account #100 will always signify the same thing, regardless of the project.

3. Clean Up Your Data

You wouldn’t start a new project with old information, so why would you start using new accounting software with old data? Before migrating existing data to your new system, take some time to clean it up by eliminating duplicate vendors, purging old information, evaluating outstanding payables and receivables and getting accurate inventory counts.

This step helps you start with a fresh and timely dataset in your new system. If you have receivables that are outstanding by 120 days or more, ask yourself why they’re present and what you can do to collect the money? If you have outstanding credits with little-used vendors, consider requesting refunds instead of carrying those credits forward. Perhaps it’s time to archive data for employees that haven’t worked for the company in years. For current employees, this allows you to identify whether you have current W-4 forms on file and if any critical licenses or certifications have expired.

4. Create a Schedule with Milestones

Treat your software implementation like a construction project by creating a schedule with specific milestones. Assign a project manager on your end and ask for a designated PM on your software vendor’s side.

To achieve software implementation success, you’re going to need some accountability for the things that must be done. Make the two PMs ultimately responsible for driving the project toward completion on time and within budget.

Let your company’s size and the complexity of your software system dictate the schedule, but try to set a firm go-live date. Like many construction projects, unforeseeable delays happen during software conversions. It’s okay to make adjustments to your schedule. But be aware that, if you keep pushing your deadline further into the future, you risk losing momentum and creating costly delays.

5. Implement Your New Software in Phases

Every construction project is completed in phases. Why should your software implementation be any different?

A phased implementation eases the adoption of new software by allowing your staff to become comfortable with the basics before you add more complex functionality.

Phase 1 builds the foundation. Implement basic functionality that replaces and improves upon the procedures you were doing before. The focus during Phase 1 should be on core accounting, including job cost and payroll.

Phase 2 adds the framework. Implement functionality that your company wasn’t utilizing before, but is vital for improving operations. Processes like inventory management, purchasing, equipment management and custom reporting fall into Phase 2.

Phase 3 adds custom finishes. This is your technology “wish list” that will revolutionize your operations. Electronic document management, remote timesheet entry and a field service system fit into this phase.

6. Establish New and Improved Procedures

Just like you implement new procedures for improving things like job site safety, you should use your software implementation as a way to establish new procedures that improve accounting processes.

Better processes make your accounting staff more efficient and keep important details from slipping through the cracks. Some examples include creating collection policies for past due invoices, scheduling payables to take advantage of vendor discounts and using triggers or alerts for insurance expiration dates or to flag missing employee information.

7. Set a Profitable Training Mindset

It takes time and money for an apprentice to become a journeyman. Likewise, it takes time and money to become proficient in your new software. Instead of viewing training as an expense, look at it as an investment and budget accordingly.

If you neglect training, your new software becomes a disposable tool. With proper training, however, your software becomes an investment that delivers a positive return over time. Achieving a successful accounting software implementation can take up to two full years. The first year is spent rolling out the system and the second year is spent fine-tuning your processes. It’s generally a good idea to allocate a portion of your budget for training at three, six, nine and 12-month intervals. Free resources offered by your vendor can help as well, including newsletters, e-mail updates, a knowledge base, online help, Webinars and conferences.

Mandating Change from the Top Down

Change is vital, but for most people, change isn’t easy. Because of this, the motivation to implement new software needs to come from the top of your organization. Set the expectation that your new tool will not only make your company more profitable, but will also increase efficiency and make your employees’ jobs easier. By being one part dictator and one part motivator – and by following the seven tips outlined above – your software implementation will be a successful endeavor that delivers a high ROI.

New Webinar: “7 Tips to Keep Your Premiums from Skyrocketing”

Last year, we had the privilege of hosting a webinar alongside Matt Mauller, Vice President of Neace Lukens Insurance Agency. At the time, we were in what he called a “soft market” for insurance. Premiums were low, and he told us how to take advantage of the market by either renegotiating with our brokers our kicking them to the curb and finding a new one. You can recap that information by viewing our previous webinars. Since that time, the insurance market has taken a hard turn. Premiums are going up, and it’s making life tougher for contractors. Luckily, Matt Mauller is coming back this year to co-host another webinar, “7 Tips to Keep Your Premiums from Skyrocketing.” Matt will tell us about the current market, how we got there, and what you can do to prevent your premiums from following the upward trend.

This webinar is a must-see for contractors, and it’s absolutely FREE. Space is limited, so be sure to register today!

Are You Getting Your Money’s Worth Out of ComputerEase Construction Software?

Some of our customers take ComputerEase Construction Software to a basic level and then stop. They only use 50% of the software’s potential. We want to fix this by offering two full days of training on ComputerEase in Cincinnati, Ohio on September 20th and 21st.

You have completed the hard work – the hours setting up the software are behind you. Now, with a little more education, you can take full advantage of the software’s potential. This advanced training course is a compilation of the best ideas from over 6,000 contractors using ComputerEase over the past 30 years.

It’s time for you to become an expert on ComputerEase. Did you know that over the past 2 years ComputerEase has added over 300 new features to the software? How many of these features are you using? Attend this class and we will make sure you are using all of them.

To learn more or register for the class, visit the Event Signup Page.