This Tampa-based construction firm specializes in concrete and stucco application in both the commercial and residential construction markets. Since their services are available to a rather wide demographic, their projects run the gamut from small to large; they could be doing extensive stucco replacement for a four-star hotel one day then handle pool remodeling for a house in the suburbs the next.
The company has used internal spreadsheets in order to organize their many and at times disparate projects. They weren’t quite the solution the company needed, however, as spreadsheets didn’t give them enough control over project management.
The first solution they turned to was project management systems custom built for construction firms. They worked great on the project management side, but the company found them limiting when it came to client communication; there’s often a lot of back and forth between the company and its clients especially when it comes to residential projects. What they really needed is an all-in-one project management and CRM system.
The WORK[etc] Solution:
As a project-intensive business, the company had more than a few requirements when it came to project management software. They needed a tool that could help them streamline and automate their workflow, schedule projects, and help them keep track of budgets, among others.
WORK[etc]’s main project dashboard gives users a 10,000-foot view of all the projects they’ve created. Filtering and sorting options allow you to further refine this view. You can choose what you want to see in order to quickly find the data important to you at that time. The dashboard also offers multiple ways to view a project:
The Gantt Chart by itself allows you to quickly get an overview of a project’s schedule. You can take this a step further by accessing WORK[etc]’s calendar module. There, you can see a detailed overview of projects, tasks, ToDos, expenses, invoices, discussions — basically anything with a date attached to it can be overlaid on the calendar.
All of this information can be filtered further by choosing which user’s schedule you want to see. This way, you can quickly see which team members have full schedules and which ones have time that can be allotted to another project. You can quickly ascertain that while Bob has his work week full on a pool construction project, Bill has a clear enough schedule that you can assign him to that new remodeling job that just came in.
Now, everybody in construction knows that sometimes a few uncontrollable factors can force you to reschedule a project. Rain, for example, can really mess up the curing of concrete, forcing you to break a pour and finish it another day.
If this happens, you can easily edit a project and change the schedule for a specific task or sub-project. Whoever that task is assigned to will automatically be notified of the change. You can also add a note to the task or sub-project you edited in order to add, for example, an explanation regarding the change in schedule. These notes will also be sent automatically to the person connected to the task as emails.
CUSTOM PROJECTS, DEPENDENCIES, AND TRIGGERS
One thing of importance to the company (and to pretty much any other construction firm) is that all of their projects have to follow a very specific build process and schedule. Everything must be built in time and on time. This can easily be accomplished by making use of WORK[etc]’s custom project stages as well as dependencies and triggers.
For example, the typical pool remodeling job you undertake usually has only five stages. That pool construction project you assigned to Bob, however, is going to involve 18 — from settling on a design and marking out the construction area all the way to installing decorative coping and filling it with water — since you’re building it from scratch. Since you’re usually working on five-stage jobs, that’s the template you have. WORK[etc]’s custom project feature easily lets you up that stage count to the 18 that your new project needs.
Now, the pool project has a build order; you can’t just jump straight to coping without even digging out the interior basin first. By using dependencies and triggers, you can set it so that specific stages will only become available once you complete a preceding stage that they’re dependent on. Bob has to go through the entire process step by step. There’s no jumping the gun here.
The system also offers two ways of updating project progress: manual or automatic. The latter lets the system automatically update overall progress as you complete sub-projects or ToDos. WORK[etc] does this by calculating the percentage each sub-project/task is worth so that each time you mark one as completed, the overall progress is updated accordingly. When Bob completes stages one and two of the pool job, the progress bar will automatically move up to 11% completed.
As mentioned, the company needed to implement a system that allowed for better communication between them and their clients. Email has been the main mode of communication for them, and in WORK[etc] this can mean a more efficient workflow.
From inside a project, you can send an email to other users and your clients. Since the emails you send from within a project have their own corresponding project code, any replies are then automatically filed into the relevant project. This correspondence will show up in the project’s activity stream.
Another useful client-side communication tool is the customer portal. Clients who you’ve given access to the portal can use it to view invoices, projects, tasks, support cases, and even customer-targeted web forms and knowledge base articles on the customer portal. This gives them a way to also keep track of project progress as well as an access point if they ever need to contact you regarding any issues that come up.
WORK[etc] also allows for internal communication within your team through threaded, forum-style postings on the discussions tab. Here, you can:
That last point is especially useful when you need something done fast. If you ask Bob for a detailed list of materials for the new pool he’s designing he immediately knows what you need from him.
Costing and budget presentations are a big part of the first few meetings between the company and its clients. They also don’t budget according to time tracked. Instead they base the budget on actual whole dollar amounts for each stage of the project.
WORK[etc] allows you to set a budget for the project as well as for the sub-projects within it. Since the company doesn’t budget according to time, they can track all of the expenses accrued on a project and then set them as non-billable. Non-billable items don’t automatically translate to invoices to be sent to the client, but they do allow you to keep track of a project’s costs.
This allows you to quickly see if Bob’s staying within budget on that swimming pool he’s working on and, when used in conjunction with the expenses tab, you can see directly which items have the biggest impact on project costs. Bob doesn’t even have to enter the expenses into the system himself; Jane down in accounting or John the project manager can do it for him.
For an even more refined view of a project’s budget, WORK[etc] has a project report module which presents real-time data as well as end-of-project reporting. Here, you can find a list of your projects as well as their allocated and remaining budgets. This list can be further refined by setting custom date ranges or sorting according to budget, progress, expenses, and other pertinent fields.
You can also choose which fields are on-screen at any given time. The company doesn’t track time so they have no use for the “wages” and “hours” columns. These can be hidden so that the module shows only the fields they actually need like budget, expenses, and project progress. All these columns can also be easily rearranged by simply dragging them around.
Construction involves highly organized processes. You can’t build solid walls without finishing the framing first. By using WORK[etc]’s custom projects in conjunction with dependencies and triggers, the company can ensure that each stage is completed before moving on to the next.
It’s also a very collaborative process. After all, the company will base its designs and decisions on client input, which in turn relies on what the company feels can be done within the schedule and budget. The company can facilitate closer collaboration through WORK[etc]’s communications tools, both external — like email correspondence with clients that immediately become attached to projects — and internal — such as threaded discussions between users.
The company can also track their budgets closely through WORK[etc]’s budgeting module. The system’s customizability further allows them to quickly see only the information pertinent to them at any point in time. If hours aren’t tracked, then that field can be hidden in favor of those that are actually important to the company such as expenses and deadlines.
What this means for your Construction Firm
WORK[etc] is more than your average CRM. It’s an all-in-one solution that seamlessly ties together project management, financials, and even internal and external communications. It gives you multiple ways to search for, filter, and access whatever piece of information you may need at any given time, wherever you may be. You can experience WORK[etc]’s suite of cloud-based tools by signing up for our free 14-day trial.