David Merrick wanted a way to be more organized and began using Microsoft SharePoint Services, a component of the Windows 2003 Small Business Server. At first, he used it to create lists but soon discovered the file sharing and team collaboration benefits — a way to share information with everyone working on a project. “It's simple to use,” says Merrick, owner of Merrick Design and Build in Kensington, Md. “Unlike some other applications, you can adapt SharePoint to the way you do business instead of the other way around.”
Lucky for other remodelers, Merrick worked with SharePoint for two years, building lists, tables, and libraries that would suit a remodeling business and developing what he calls “Remodeling To Go,” a Web-based product. “I've done it based on the way I operate my business; it's easy to edit and easy for others to adapt to the way they operate their businesses,” says Merrick, who got an overwhelming response when he presented his ideas to his Remodeling Industry Technology Group ( www.ritg.org). “Instead of starting at square one, you're starting 30 or 40 steps down the line.”
Because SharePoint is Web-based, anyone can access the information. Some sections are password-protected. There are areas for documents, photos, lists, discussions, and surveys. Merrick's office has a “super to-do list,” with all the tasks for internal employees, subcontractors, suppliers, and others. Lists can be filtered or sorted.
Merrick also uses the system to build a punch list from the day he starts the design on a project. “If you're paying attention, you won't have a punch list at the end because this has given you the ability to manage the job and keep on task.” SharePoint also can send alerts and e-mail notifications. Merrick has set up a hosted site to provide this service to others. For more information on pricing and to play with a working demo, go to www.remodelingtogo.com.