My June column provided an overview of different project management systems. Now for some tips to help you use this software to get better task accountability:
• Live it: Project status software should be the first thing everyone checks in the morning, has up and running all day, and is the last thing off at night. Getting everyone to “live in” the software is key.
• Banish “blind” meetings: Conduct meetings using your same task management software in real-time. Don’t just talk about task completion — fire up the software, update tasks, and assign new tasks in front of everyone. If you’re all in the same room, use a projector or large monitor; if you’re in different locations, use a screen-sharing/meeting service such as GoToMeeting.com or Join.me.
• Update daily: You want everyone to use their mobile devices and make changes to the schedule or job logs as they occur, but that may be unrealistic. We recommend the “same day” rule: “If it happened today — it’s entered today.”
• Build bridges: Some people simply won’t get it and may not be able to do updates as you ask — at least until they receive some serious training. Short-term, specify someone in the office to do the data entry for everyone who can’t do their own. It’s more important that everything in the system is current than that your lowest-tech employees are tortured into doing their own data entry. Ultimately you’ll need to make tough decisions concerning your low-tech staff, but for now focus on getting your sales and project information consistently up-to-date.
One important tip: Have your coordinator call each project manager, lead carpenter, and salesperson to get their updates and do it at exactly the same time every day. In our experience, it doesn’t work to have field personnel call in; you’ll have better luck pulling the updates from them.
—Joe Stoddard is an industry consultant helping remodelers be successful with their technology. firstname.lastname@example.org