As Andy Wright's company grew, he needed a way to keep track of his projects to help him make decisions about marketing, selling, and purchasing.

Two years ago, the owner of WrightBuilt in Grass Valley, Calif., created a monthly "Flash Report," which not only covers the status of ongoing projects but factors in the effect on revenue and schedule of jobs that are not yet signed.

For each project in the design or bid phase, for example, the report lists the customer, the approximate budget, and a percentage that represents the likelihood WrightBuilt will be awarded the job.

Wright multiplies the budget by the percentage to get a probable income for each job, then divides the total for all jobs by his volume goal per month. That tells him the total months of backlog.

"It allows me to look into the future. Our backlog is typically two to three months. Last year it shrank to three weeks at one point. I needed to react to that," he says.