Contracting companies can vary dramatically in terms of their comfort level with technology - and their use of technology in their work. Where one business uses hand-written notes & invoices, another may co-ordinate between work sites on tablets used by every employee.
For many contractors, this technological advancement is a progression, that takes them from limited technology through to more sophisticated methods. This progress typically informed by the age of the business, the volume and size of projects and their employees comfort around the use of technology.
Many contracting companies see this progression as an unnecessary increase in expenses, without realizing that each step also represents an expansion of capabilities. The expenses involved in development represent an investment, a loss leader, to help your company scale and grow to take on more projects.
There are 4 basic levels, or steps of technology adoption. You must first identify what level your business is at, before you can plan for advancement.
A New Construction or Contracting Business
When starting a business, most owners make limited use of technology. In the "old days", this was paper invoicing (which, yes, still exists for some businesses), but nowadays, these "low tech" methods include Word / Excel templates for invoicing, communicating with remote technicians or contractors by phone, a business email address and maybe a simple website (or Facebook page) with a contact us form.
This is fine for a small business with a low number of work orders, because co-ordination can generally be handled face to face or over the phone, whether between the business and it's customers or the business and it's employees. Small volumes of work can be handled with limited technology. However, "information retrieval", like finding a previous invoice or notes on a previous service call, relies heavily on people's memories and paper filing systems. Large-scale projects requiring multiple technicians or an increase in the number of work orders, would require a lot of extra work from a lot of hands and will need a higher level of technology.
A Growing Small Business
As the business grows, business owners will try to develop solutions to the problems they are encountering with their current process. Solutions might include adding workstations and / or dedicated office staff, and making efforts to move towards a paperless process. They may also begin using accounting software like Quickbooks to track invoicing and expenses, and possibly introduce some task-specific apps, or a shared server to aid with organization.
These differences help the business with it's record-keeping and invoicing; it's no longer as difficult to track previous service calls or invoices. The business is however, still experiencing challenges handling larger projects and coordinating several technicians over several sites.
Comprehensive Technology for Your Contracting Business
As a business adopts improved technology, they'll often find their needs advance. They'll likely add some form of client management software or CRM tool to help manage the sales process, and implement some form of dispatching/project management software to organize technicians and project tasks. An application to act as dashboards, extracting data and helping them locate and eliminate bottlenecks and streamline internal processes should also be put into place.
With data all in one place, and shifting their workforce to be more mobile, an organization can begin to take on larger projects in higher volumes. The improved sophistication alleviates coordination problems and downtime, putting the business at significant advantage over other companies that haven't yet adopted technology.
Interconnectivity or an All-in-One Solution
A company at this level has its' accounting system, invoicing system, CRM software, and dispatching tool all integrated with each other, or alternatively, they have adapted an all in one system to handle their entire business process. Their dashboards and forecasting systems provide an accurate understanding of their own positioning, as well as the projects they're working on, past projects, and even projects at the prospecting stage. The company can effortlessly keep track of their employees, organize work orders, and accurately track their supply chain.
An interconnected workplace can accomplish all manner of tasks with ease. The largest danger at this level is that your company will begin to rest on it's laurels; effective mastery of this level of technological integration means staying aware of new technology and trends in the industry.
Were able to identify or relate to one of these levels of technology integration? If so, the next step is to plan for the level of the integration you ultimately want to get to. Many business are comfortable and quite successful with comprehensive technology that helps them with particular phases of their business process and aids in simple organization, while other business owners want complete interconnectivity for ultimate scalability and oversight. It really depends on your own personal goals for your business.
Snapsuite's Business Management Software:
One of the great things about SnapSuite is that it fits into every one of these levels, and can grow right alongside your business. If you're ready for software that will incorporate your invoicing, accounting, and fulfillment, SnapSuite is ready to help, but if you're just at the point where you'd like something to help you keep track of who's in the field and which job's coming up next week - it can help with that, too. SnapSuite was designed with this "ramp-up" in mind, coordinating with other software programs or acting on it's own to get your company to where you need it to be. Need help getting your business to the next level of technology integration? We can help! Visit https://www.snapsuite.io/signup to get started!
SnapSuite is a Toronto based software company that helps businesses in the construction and skilled trade industries increase their operational efficiency.
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