Every company has processes that don’t quite work. Maybe each department has their own way of doing things that don’t quite mesh with other departments. Maybe employees brought with them habits from the last job they had which are hurting your company’s efficiency. Problems with communication flow among departments makes everyone inefficient. There is often a gap to bridge between the field and back office. You can bridge that gap with people, then processes, then tools.

Frankly, one department may not initially care if another department has issues. But the culture of the company needs to be clear that what affects one affects everyone. The bottom line is that they should be working together toward a common goal.

Consistency is the key to efficiency, so create a culture of improving both – “this is the way we’re going to operate our business.” Being able to relate that with specific examples is how to get buy-in from all employees. Each team should know what’s expected of them. Since so much depends upon increased company efficiency, you may want to incentivize the process with a bonus plan or some other motivation.

You can get so busy that you don’t take time to solve problems, thinking you’ll tackle them when you have the time – perhaps when things slow down. But that perfect scenario never seems to happen. The efficiency gap continues to grow, and your company can fall further and further behind in an industry where margins are already tight. To take the onus off that perfect scenario, one solution is to choose a small group within your company to identify things that need to be fixed. That can put you one step closer to adopting technologies that will help your company survive.

Once you identify the problems, identify a process to implement that will enable you to fix those problems and gain efficiencies. Self-awareness is important. Start with your people, making existing staff more efficient so they can perform at higher levels.

One process can involve digital tracking of productivity on the job and comparing it to the way the job was estimated. Although you’ve heard that data is king, construction companies in general only use a fraction of the information generated on a job. Everything you do on a job captures data, so take that data and apply it, understand it and learn from it. Data will change your decisions from emotional gut-feelings to fact-based, allowing you to make more realistic decisions. 

Yes, there is a cost to fixing a problem, but there is also a cost to not fixing a problem. The cost of software and training tools are obvious. But what about the internal cost of continually dealing with bad processes? Share this information with management. They may be “stepping over dollars to pick up pennies.” Sometimes the technology to fix your company’s problems ends up paying for itself.

Join me on episode 54 of the Bridging the Gap Podcast with guest Jeffrey Nesbitt of CliftonLarsonAllen LLP as we discuss using people, processes and tools to connect the backoffice to the field. 

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