The next time the sales team hands off a job to production, examine the job package. If it doesn't clearly explain the following, clarify as needed:

Client: What are their hot buttons? Do they make decisions easily?

Sales contract: What has the company contracted to do and not do? (You don't need to see actual dollar figures.)

Estimate: What costs are you expected to control?

Plans: Your company must reach agreement on what constitutes a complete set of plans. Do you have everything, as defined?

Specifications: What are the phases of work, and what other information do you need for them? If specific materials and quantities haven't been determined, specs should state this clearly.

Subcontractor quotes: At a minimum, you should have quotes from the major subs that will be involved early, such as plumbing, electrical, and HVAC. Also ask for notes involving discussions with any other subs.

Site survey: Does it show small details that could get overlooked, such as an electrical meter on the wall where the addition will go?

Make this sales-to-production checklist a key kickoff to every project. They'll run more smoothly, with fewer of the frustrations that sometimes characterize the sales-production relationship. —Tim Faller, Field Training Services,