Improve Daily Operations Using Available Technology
Your outlook dictates how well technology can help run your business. Technology becomes more valuable once you understand where and how it can help you.
Some builders, contractors and business owners see computers as more of an obstacle to running their business than a help, but software can improve communication, efficiency and documentation and put you in a better competitive position — especially in a down market.
There is no paradigm to determine the exact level of technology for your company. It is something you have to evaluate on a periodic basis. But the more technology you use, the more time can be saved and efficiency can be improved.
Technology’s Best Applications
Computers and software are most beneficial when used for the following:
- Speeding up and systematizing repetitive tasks
- Performing calculations and complex functions
- Sharing information and communication
- Organizing and documenting
Evaluate the types of software tools available to help run a business ― whether you are a one-man custom home builder or part of a larger company building hundreds of homes. Compare your needs to the capabilities of available software to find the level of technology that’s right.
Use What Works for You
Start with general and flexible software.
Most builders start by using a combination of Excel and accounting software and e-mail.
Excel software can be used to manage schedules, task lists and punch lists, as well as to perform calculation functions such as estimating.
Accounting software, like QuickBooks, can be used for purchasing, budgeting and cash management.
E-mail can be used to communicate with and transfer documents to trade partners and home buyers.
These flexible software applications can be used to meet specific builder needs and are a good starting point.
Use application software to meet specific needs.
Numerous software applications are available to meet the specific needs of builders. These include drafting, estimating, punch lists and scheduling, change orders and, more recently, selections and warranty.
These applications can be highly efficient; they are designed to meet specific needs and are easy to implement.
Look to integrated solutions once you’ve got your feet wet.
Once your business reaches an elevated plateau, you will want to use an integrated solution. Efficiency jumps once information flows seamlessly through all your business functions.
With integrated solutions, selection information can flow to estimating, sales and purchasing in a timely and seamless process that increases efficiency. Similarly, change orders in the field can be transmitted electronically to your proper departments to improve budgeting and scheduling.
Better Business Management
Seamless technology that integrates selection decisions and schedule changes with overall business operations is a good example of how technology can improve business management.
Having to call all the parties affected by changes or selections can be time-consuming — some details can get lost during this type of communication and there is no documentation.
Faxing is almost as slow, but at least it provides a documented record.
E-mailing multiple parties is fast and well-documented, but this process is not necessarily organized and requires you to initiate the process.
Application software, on the other hand, can automatically notify all parties instantly and accurately. Integrated solutions can further update effected functions like purchasing requirements and task lists.
Using technology to improve business efficiency will increase profits and keep a business on track. It also will create satisfied customers
To learn more about technology applications that can help improve your business, visit NAHB’s Technology Solutions Directory.
Andy Elsbury, a member of NAHB’s Custom Home Builders Committee, is the founder of Indianapolis-based SelectionWare, which provides consulting services and solutions for home builders to improve the building process. For more information, e-mail Elsbury, call him at 866-585-9222 or visit the SelectionWare Web site at www.SelectionWare.com.
NAHB Has Nearly 300 Resources to Help You Run Your Business More Profitably
Go to NAHB's Business Management Tools Web pages (available to members only) for instant access to nearly 300 timesaving, moneymaking and cost-cutting business resources to help you run your business more profitably. Get guidance on accounting and financial management, business strategy, computers and information technology, customer service, human resources and more.
Resources are added weekly, so bookmark www.nahb.org/biztools to go directly to these vital business management resources.
Local and state home builders associations can link directly to www.nahb.org/biztools from their Web site and give their members instant access to these resources. It will make your HBA's Web site the place to go for the information and guidance that members need to succeed.
Add Success to Your Schedule
Missing a deadline can seriously damage your bottom line. The "Scheduling" course from The NAHB University of Housing shows building professionals how to set workable schedules and use various time-management tools.
The course teaches the benefits of scheduling and integrating scheduling with other management activities and will help builders, remodelers and site managers deal with those days when nothing goes according to plan.
Find upcoming Scheduling courses here, or call 800-368-5242 x8154 for more information.
Free NAHB Kit Gives Builders Back-to-Basics Tips to Navigate the Slowdown
What was once expected to be a relatively mild housing slump following three years of record new home construction and sales has given way to a significant downturn.
To help members navigate the uncharted waters of this slowdown, NAHB has compiled a comprehensive “Back to Basics” online toolkit — the best of the basics, the tried and true and the truly new. To access the toolkit, click here.
To access the “Back to Basics” toolkit, you must be an NAHB member and have a login to www.nahb.org. To create a login, go to www.nahb.org/login or click on the log-in button on the main menu bar.
For assistance, call the NAHB Member Service Center at 800-368-5242.