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Sprint Wireless Cards / Dell Laptop / Field Connectivity
December 11, 2007
Recently we tried out the internal EVDO cards from Sprint in Dell Laptop computers. I have used many of these wireless cards in the past and the service has always been shakey. We have really been trying to test these out in the field to see if they would be a good product for ourselves and our clients who need to connect to their IT networks remotely.
Today I was driving from San Jose to Atascadero in CA. I took Highway 101 which has poor cell phone reception.
Leaving San Jose I sat the laptop on the seat and connected to the internet through the Sprint card. From there I established a VPN connection and started a log of the connection.
Throughout the 150+ mile drive it only missed a total of (4) pings to the server via the VPN tunnel and NEVER dropped the VPN connection!
This is just plain amazing - I couldn't even get the GPS on my AT&T powered Blackberry to work for part of the trip due to no signal.
I'm sure that this has partly to do with the internal antenna built into the Dell laptops but the end result was fantastic. I would recommend this solution to any company that needs to connect from the field.
Cutting The Fat - Slow Down Survival Tips
November 25, 2007
Action is the key to success. Here are just a few tips on leaning out during a slow down. This is a first of an upcoming series on surviving the market slow down.
Look around your company for those employees that just don’t shine quite as brightly as others. OK, now trim the fat. It’s that easy. Use this time to get rid of non performers. Think very carefully before cutting key employees. Replacement many of the costs for replacement are hidden. Long term employees know and understand your business. It’s essential during vast change to keep together a cohesive core.
Where did salaries go through this last building craze? Through the roof. Guess what, the slope just changed. Take command of your company. Trim just five or ten percent across the board while it’s here. Will it go over well? Probably not. However, having a job is much better than standing in the unemployment line.
Be sure you’ve scrutinized your insurance policies. Be sure to adjust estimated payrolls for projected premiums. Look at your estimated tax payments. Be sure they are re-aligned. The impact on cash flow from adjusted tax deposits and premiums can only be of help.
Many costs as you downsize naturally fall. Look at your floor space. It’s not going to shrink. If like many contractors you own the building, cost compare renting a smaller space, leasing your space to a more another business. If you’ve recently built, the change may pencil.
Keep the knife sharpener handy. Cuts don’t have to be deep nor drastic by any means. From toilet paper quantities, to pencils, to the cell phone plans to benefits synch it in. Lock it up if you must and designate a gatekeeper.
Hold brain storming sessions on how savings can be achieved with key employees and their subordinates. Create departmental teams and offer incentives for finding ways to save or increase efficiencies.
Take a very close look at your material handling or lack thereof it. Take your field guys to the conference room. Audit material handling and develop strict material handling training and processes. No nail shall go unclaimed. No board shall be cut too short. Use them as your tool for coming up with best practices. Most of it should stick when the heat dials up again. You’ll be operating as the new trimmer you.
Renegotiate with vendors. How low can they go? Negotiate a long term relationship to stabilize your costs if at all possible. Be sure to leave market adjustment allowances built into the agreements.
Stay tuned for more. Coming soon are moves that generate cash plus tips on running a successful construction company.
March 11, 2007
Some interesting products to take a look at if you are investigating streamlining your technology systems:
Selecting Construction Software
February 27, 2007
The other day one of the owners of RiverGuide, Inc. contacted us and invited us to their site to look around. I was quite impressed with the concept and focus of the site. Software selection in the construction industry is something that is extremely important yet few executives and owners spend the time necessary to really make a good selection.
One very useful resource on their site is a whitepaper called The Best Practices Guide to Selecting Construction Software.
I read this cover-to-cover this morning and it should be a must-read for ANYONE who is thinking about or who is implementing any construction software.
One of the key points they make is one we always try to get people to focus on. Figure out your company work processes first, then figure out whether the software can support those processes.
If you are talking to the sales person and they can only talk to you about "features" simply thank them for their time and find another sales person.
Processes and efficiency make money - features are relatively minor details. Too often we see software that was selected based on some "neat" features that are actually never used and in the grand scheme of the business they are not even part of any process that actually makes a profit.
This would be the equivelant of selecting an excavator based on how many stations the radio gets rather than focusing on the 2-3 things that really matter such as excavation capacity and hourly operating costs yielding a production per dollar number that can truly help you make a decision.
Some of the slides from our Integrated Operations& Accounting for Contractors training module that are appropriate to this point are below.
Efficient Vehicle Setup
December 11, 2006
Having an efficiently setup workspace is the key to productivity. In the field the trucks and vans we use every day are our primary workspaces.
Having these efficiently setup is a critical first step in improving productivity. Spending a few thousand extra dollars on the setup and some time to seriously plan will pay you back very, very quickly.
Weatherguard provides a great online tool for planning vehicle layouts. While you are at it think about standardization. Every vehicle you have that is used for the same purpose should be setup the same. Same layout, same tools, same inventory.
Standardization means that anyone at any time can get into any vehicle and be productive.
If your standardized setup is well documented it means that setting up new vehicles will be a known cost and can happen very efficiently meaning that you can scale your business faster.
December 08, 2006
This looks like an awesome product and much needed for the construction industry. It's a pretty cheap way to protect expensive assets on the construction site.
Opportunity Interactive - Software
October 28, 2006
Software specifically for smaller HVAC contractors to manage every aspect of their business including a pre-formatted QuickBooks file and sales management solutions.
If you are an HVAC contractor this is worth a look.
Blue Volt - Online Electrical Training
August 17, 2006
They don't have a lot of California focused courses but do have some good general courses to help keep electricians up to date. Definitely worth a look. www.bluevolt.com
To learn more about building your career in the electrical industry also see Electrical Employment (www.electricalemployment.com)
Construction PM Software For QuickBooks
We have not tried this software out yet but it looks like it has some promise for the smaller contractor who is using QuickBooks and wants a more powerful project management program. Corecon Technologies, Inc.
Online Project Management & Construction Classes
August 05, 2006
Continual eduction is necessary in the construction field to stay current with the many changing codes and construction techniques. RedVector provides thousands of online courses ranging from construction claims to project management decisions to trade exam courses. Well worth some investigation.
Project Management Productivity Book
July 30, 2006
For a while now I've been working on codifying all my thoughts about how to manage profitable construction projects from the field through project management and accounting - all as part of the system of building a successful construction company.
So far this has boiled down into a series of modules, each 2-3 hours in length that get at a few key points the project team can use to improve performance immediately. Over the last year these four modules have been the most requested by contractors. We use three of them as the base for our Pre-Planning Facilitation and almost every Construction Company Development program we do is built on at least a couple of these modules.
We have assembled them all in a 4 part book that includes group activities. Use this with your project team and start improving performance today.
1. Pre-Planning for Profits
2. Imacted Jobsite Productivity
3. Production Tracking (The Feedback Systems)
4. Change Orders
Dispatch Software / QuickBooks
July 25, 2006
For contractors using QuickBooks who need a more robust tool for dispatch and customer service management.
Reference Air Conditioning By Jay - Scottsdale, AZ as a contractor using the system.
Cool Electrical Product
December 24, 2005
The new Space Saver EMT connector from Crouse-Hinds can save a lot of headaches for tight installations such as quad outlets in 4-sq. boxes or big disconnect switches for HVAC equipment in handy boxes.
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Favorite Book 2007
Download Elegant Solutions from Change This which provides some highlights of the Toyota Production System. Too many ideas that are applicable to contractors to even count!
- Sprint Wireless Cards / Dell Laptop / Field Connectivity
- Cutting The Fat - Slow Down Survival Tips
- UDA ConstructionOffice
- Selecting Construction Software
- Efficient Vehicle Setup
- Dewalt MobileLock
- Opportunity Interactive - Software
- Blue Volt - Online Electrical Training
- Construction PM Software For QuickBooks
- Online Project Management & Construction Classes
Management Class SeriesTraining Modules Specifically Designed For Contractors
- Construction Documentation Overview
- Project Pre-Planning Impacted Jobsite Productivity
- Production Tracking Customer Service & The Project Team
- Change Orders Talent - “People Processes”
- Profit Dynamics For Construction Contracts
- Cash Flow & The Project Team
- Priorities (Time Management For Construction)
- Construction Financial Basics
- Integrated Accounting & Operations
- Project Management Overview
- Process Documentation
- Effective Superintendent Processes
- Implementing A Project Management System
- Organizational Planning For Contractors
- Technology Systems For Contractors
- Excel for Contractors