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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have seen alot of posts about systemizing construction businesses.

We have developed a comprehensive web based system for managing a construction business with the aim of growing into a mature business with a systemized approach to delivery of construction.

This system Manages: Marketing > Sales (Prospects) > Specs/ Plans / Bids > Admin / Accounting > Project Management > Scheduling > Quality Control > Job Cost

There are alot of packages out there and was wondering what was important to you all.

I got frustrated having several programs not talking to each other - needed a central database for all the staff to work from - So I could know what was going on in our business.

Let me know if you, as Contractors, want :

What is important to you in the system ?

Hosted vs On your machines?

Monthly Subscription vs Purchase ?

What would you pay vs. the amount of sales ?

Many thanks for your kind feedback,

Terry
 

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Terry;

Just wondering what specifically you where unable to find that prompted you to develop your own comprehensive system? Most of the packages available today started from the same perspective (including ELMS).

I am well aware of what kind of investment (time and money) you must have in your system. We have asked many the same questions and our conclusion was to offer products on both the desktop and the via the web, hosted and on-site. The payment question usually provokes many different responses. I don't view the amount of payment relative to the amount of sales, but I try to answer some of the following questions:

How much is lost during the estimating process when costs are left on the table?
How many sales where lost because I did not follow up on a lead properly?
What cost savings can I have by requesting bids to more vendors and getting faster returns?
"Word of mouth" Is the project on time, project communication, professional reports and contracts.

I have found that if we answer these questions truthfully, then the cost justification is very simple.

I hope this helps, Good Luck with your project
 

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It sounds like......

I have seen alot of posts about systemizing construction businesses.

We have developed a comprehensive web based system for managing a construction business with the aim of growing into a mature business with a systemized approach to delivery of construction.

This system Manages: Marketing > Sales (Prospects) > Specs/ Plans / Bids > Admin / Accounting > Project Management > Scheduling > Quality Control > Job Cost

There are alot of packages out there and was wondering what was important to you all.

I got frustrated having several programs not talking to each other - needed a central database for all the staff to work from - So I could know what was going on in our business.

Let me know if you, as Contractors, want :

What is important to you in the system ?

Hosted vs On your machines?

Monthly Subscription vs Purchase ?

What would you pay vs. the amount of sales ?

Many thanks for your kind feedback,

Terry
at least one person would have to sit at a computer for a good 8-hour day to manage the program. It sounds like having more than one person capable of changing data could result of errors that are hard to know about and correct.

I am against integrated programs while I think separate programs for managing, dispatching, receivables,, etc. are easier, faster to use, and more accurate. It doesn't take that long to close a program for one feature and open another program. It is safer to have separate programs where you can keep information in the safety of your office and have separate programs online. I am also against paying a monthly fee for any type of software. Of course, I am just a small plumbing company and I don't know much about a large construction business.

I am always open to ideas, so how about putting in some screen shots showing what your software can do?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Many thanks for your ideas and feedback,
I will post some screen shots.
PCPlumber - I designed the software for a SMALL company when they could NOT afford a full time staff person to run the system. I made it on line because my sales person was off site, bookeeper was off site and not full time. The aim was to be able to have information available even when the company is small ( virtual ). Designer and Engineer could post plans to the job for my review. None of the production staff interfaces with the system at this time - Later we might send text messages to their phone but, for now - I print what they need and put it in a project notebook or create a Work Order

What is great - I can take a standard task list - upload it to the project - delete what doesn't apply, add anything new or different and do it now in a fraction of the time. I find it easier to DELETE than to try to remember everything each time we build a house, remodel a basement, etc.

A small contractor may only have part time help such as an admin, marketing, bookeeper , draftsman etc. This system was designed to allow for those people to log in and work as needed without the expense of office overhead and a Full Time employee. Of course, if the business grows you can still use the system in an office environment.

I used to agree with you that NOT having every system tied together sounds like it saves time - but, when you start duplicating input and different parts of one program has some info and then your accounting system is separate you may not be able to see notes and schedule that may affect your billings. Each Vendor, Contact, would have to be entered at least twice, Updates become cumberson. I can pull up a contact page and change their status from Prospect to Client / change a phone number, add a note, upload a document in one interface.



I have amost 1,000 line items to buy in building a home. I have gone through the line items to create the quantities / pricing needed for the project. This includes labor. - Most contractors calculate the items prior to ordering and then order as required according to the schedule.

I created a simpler system of creating a PO to the Vendor - I go back to the cost items list and enter the po number into as many line items as needed in that PO and when the PO is refreshed all the line items appear there - creates an amount, If a price is wrong or quantity needs adjustment - the line items are updated accordingly by typing only once.

It is still a work in progress.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Terry;

Just wondering what specifically you where unable to find that prompted you to develop your own comprehensive system? Most of the packages available today started from the same perspective (including ELMS).

I am well aware of what kind of investment (time and money) you must have in your system. We have asked many the same questions and our conclusion was to offer products on both the desktop and the via the web, hosted and on-site. The payment question usually provokes many different responses. I don't view the amount of payment relative to the amount of sales, but I try to answer some of the following questions:

How much is lost during the estimating process when costs are left on the table?
How many sales where lost because I did not follow up on a lead properly?
What cost savings can I have by requesting bids to more vendors and getting faster returns?
"Word of mouth" Is the project on time, project communication, professional reports and contracts.

I have found that if we answer these questions truthfully, then the cost justification is very simple.

I hope this helps, Good Luck with your project

I started this process after looking at alot of programs -

Respectfully I downloaded ELMS and found it pretty good.
At the time - you did not have your on line version ready yet.

The Main question I asked Estimating Software firms : "Where are the Specifications? "

How can you estimate a job if you don't know what specifications go into the job ?

I have NOT found one estimating program out there that has the SPECS tied to the cost items - this was the MOST important fact for my firm:

Specs -> determine the Materials

Materials --> determine the Labor / Tasks

Labor.Tasks - -> determine the Schedule


My Business is Process driven by a series of checklists.
( I personally don't think in A-Z pattern, I am not the smartest brick in the wall.

I was never able to grow and have a mature business without everything depending on what was in my head. It took me years before I realized, understood how systems make and save money. We have lists / check lists for just about everything and it seems to be working)


I use the Specs list as a check list- to make sure

1) Sales covers everything as possible with the client to build a house / remodel a basement, bath, kitchen, etc.

In our system the Sales person - enters the specifications ( we have standard specs but, customers can choose from lots of options )

I want to have an estimator bid the project -

Without the Spec how would an estimator know?:

Example: Kitchen Counter - Granite vs Plastic Laminate

A big cost difference - without the "Specification" that could be a several thousand dollar mistake-

Bidding programs don't have the specs ?

(How does the estimator know what to bid without having a lot of conversation with the sales person?)

Even when I was a One person business - I wrote the specs out from the information given by the customer first as the outline of the job then to bid the project.

2) Designer - has a check list of plan items to include in the design.

(In our system all the specs are in the project database, not on the plans

This has saved us an immense amount of time )

If a specification is changed that may not affect the drawings - We don't have to reprint plans - only the spec sheet


3) Estimator -

3.1) goes through the specs list

3.2) Creates the Cost Items from the specs

3.3) Enters the quantities and costs into the project

( You might use the term " Cost Book" ( we have created several ) but, all the cost books I have seen only have the line items of materials and labor -

These don't do the job without the specifications.

Our costbooks have the specs first, then the line items tied to specs)

3.4) Bid / Estimate is prepared for Presentation

If you have read about "BIM" Building Information Modeling - that is my objective.

(In the old days - Architects put the specs on the plans - the estimator hand wrote the specs back into their estimate and then did the take offs / calcs, etc. Very tedious , time consuming and may have missed items in the process )

How can you estimate a job if you don't know what specifications go into the job ?

4) Contract Stage - Specs printed with allowances, totals , etc


I tried to look at ELMS again - but, am past the 30 day trial and it won't run. You didn't have your on line version up and running at the time.

As you know - I did not start down this road at first saying I was going to develop the software , but found I could create what I wanted.

I started looking at your screen shots this AM.

Many thanks for your thoughtful comments.

Terry
 

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Glad to see you believe in Online solutions

I see what you are doing and completely agree with the online environment. You seem to be open to looking at your future competition, so why not glance at my site www.MyOnlineToolbox.com and tell me what you see. Many things are completely beyond just the creation of an estimate.

Keep in mind that it is not easy to get a full product, company and early adopters off the ground. Personally I see you focusing way too deep into one specific area, and as you said, you have not been able to find one company who does it the way you think it should be. Many times there is a reason, and sometimes it has to do with what the market is willing to accept. Keep that in mind as you progress, including the cost to accomplish the objectives. I always enjoy competitors or potential competitors and am also willing to have general dialogue, but will restrain on details for competitive reasons.

Happy holidays and best wishes for 2010.
Brian
 
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