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We just completed our 25th year in business, and it got me to thinking about what we’ve learned over all these years. We’ve worked with hundreds of contractors, and I’m always searching for the common threads for those who are highly successful, as opposed to those who are just barely making it, or in some instances, are no longer around.

As I was preparing to speak to a group of electrical contractors recently, I decided to put some of those lessons into a David Letter-man like Top 10 list for the presentation. (For those of you who are too young to know who David Letterman is, please proceed to google David Letterman top 10 list).

I’ll start this month, as David always did, with number 10 (you have to supply the drum roll):

Terrible Mistake #10
Poor Project Start, with No Plan or a very Poor Plan. Exhibited by scheduling disasters, lack of follow up, consistent paperwork delays, and project foremen who don’t understand the scope of work. The impact of those issues will be felt on the project with under-utilization, poor productivity, missed change orders and inevitable overruns.

  • Project kick off (a.k.a. hand-off meeting):
    • Estimating and project manager/foreman must be included, and the key is to re-view the scope of work in detail
    • Use a checklist for job start, which ideally would be standardized and documented in a CRM system
  • Utilize project management tools that are:
    • Integrated with job cost
    • Integrated with documents
    • Include multiple events/to do lists
    • Allow for revised schedules
  • Utilize a scheduling system that easily lets you know:
    • Are there any jobs not scheduled?
    • Are there any resources not scheduled? Nothing is more costly than not having resources on job when needed.
    • Can two and four week forecasts be utilized?
    • How can material delivery be factored in?

Scheduling is a complex question and every company handles it differently. The way you schedule depends on a wide variety of factors including how many resources need to scheduled, how many projects are running concurrently, how often it changes, and the complexity of resources needed to schedule.

Do you identify with any of the components of this mistake? What actions have you found that have helped you resolve those issues?
Whatever actions you have already taken, plus perhaps utilizing some of the above actions, won’t guarantee that every project turns out wildly profitable. There are no guarantees, of course, but if you implement all or most, your odds of success just went way up.

Stayed tuned next edition for number 9 on the list.