What happens when you’ve finished work for the day depends on how things are going. When projects are behind schedule or over budget, the world and its worries probably weigh on your shoulders. So when you’re actually done with the day, chances are you’ll go home and arrive like a bear with a sore head. You will be too tired to interact with your children and all you want to do is go to sleep. Or go to the bar. No one can untie the knot of problems you have in your head or the knot of worry in your stomach.
So why do some projects fall behind, or something happen that puts a job on hold? Sometimes there’s no way to find out – things just happen. But often, if you had the time and space to educate yourself, you — or someone you know and trust — could avert problems before they happen.
That’s what this article is about.
It’s about technology
People just a few years younger than you seem okay with technology, but you don’t. Some say you’re the real Magneto: every bit of technology in your hands just doesn’t work anymore. It’s your super power.
Your kids are naturals with gadgets, and you hope that someday they’ll run the business, maybe with the help of technology. And of course you saw and typed people from the GC of your projects with their iPads on site. But you know the technology they’re using isn’t for you, and in fact you’re right.
The gadget you want needs to do two things. First, know where problems are occurring so you can fix them before they affect you. Second, fix your mountain of paperwork and give you the big picture. Right now you’re getting into troubles that maybe you should have seen coming, and the clues to the troubles that caused the troubles are somewhere in the pile of receipts, bills, and labor bills that are in the growing pile on your desk condition.
It’s about paper
When all the paperwork has been processed, labor and materials counted, invoices created and orders shipped, you will have a complete picture of where the business stands. But more often than not, that’s what happens at the end of the day, after you’ve driven home, maybe had something to eat, and started your second desk job. Instead of playing with your kids, you’re up to your neck in paperwork.
If we are honest, sometimes this office work stays for a few days, even a week. And that’s where the problems start to grow. It’s almost like a red warning light flashing on your company’s dashboard, but it’s hidden beneath daily reports, receipts, inventories, RFIs, and handwritten notes.
To get office work in order, you or your employees drive from site to site, back to the office, get paperwork and transport it around. It’s a full-time job, and chances are that’s what someone working for you does all day. That someone could even be you. If not, you’re paying more than you were a year ago for the same results.
Labor costs have risen, and with margins tight, it’s the little one who ends up paying when a project arrives late or overpriced. Either you repay today’s losses with your next job, or you have to refuse the work of the big GCs.
For real. It’s about technology
The technology that could enlighten you on problems and fix your paperwork? Sounds great, but your “unique talents” with technology aren’t going to work, are they, Magneto?
Without digging too far into the weeds of computing history, software today isn’t trying to be everything to everyone (it was trying in the ’90s and 2000s). The stuff that big general contractors use is written for this type of business. Likewise, the engine management software that the auto repair shop uses on newer cars was written specifically for them.
“There are fundamental differences eSUB and other general contractor-based solutions. Every function and workflow in the GC solution has to be customized for us – the subcontractor.” A&P Air Conditioning, Hialeah, FL.
There is software designed for subcontractors and it usually comes from specialized companies. All the problems we’ve talked about here – tight margins, not enough people, endless paperwork – must have been experienced by people making software. 99% of the time they didn’t go through with it.
So what do we need to fix the problems? First, the technology must be magneto-proof. That’s a given. Second, it has to do your paperwork for you as soon as you get it — every receipt, packing slip, and invoice. Third, it must add up every number in every column and give you, the person making the decisions, the big picture.
In the next article in the series, we’ll look at one of those technologies that ticks all the boxes. Instead of the commute home being the start of your next workday, the right technology allows you to switch off and focus on what’s really important. Who knows, you might even get to play with the kids for an hour.
“eSUB is a pretty good indicator of how we’re doing early on. With a high level of accuracy we can see how we are progressing on each task.” Geauga Mechanical, Chardon, OH.