Speak up: Management challenges of a glazier

Technology can play a role in achieving success
By Jim Daniels
April 1, 2008
COMMERCIAL : MANAGEMENT

There are 10 areas defined as critical elements for better business and job management.

Overseas competition, rising fuel costs, and a multitude of governmental and contractual requirements are just a few of the significant burdens today’s glass businesses must face. If you find it difficult to manage the complexities of your business effectively, a new class of technology products might be the solution.

Job management can be one of the most complex business processes that the residential and commercial glazing industry handles. Glaziers ask, “How can I gain visibility into my business to know exactly what is going on at any given point in time?” At the core of this question is the ability of glaziers to effectively manage jobs consistently in their businesses.  

1. Organization
Manage and monitor all job-related data in one system, to improve internal efficiency and client service. Many firms will start out withMicrosoft Word, Excel, and a small business accounting package to manage their projects. Their organization eventually grows and project files gets scattered across the organization, leading to an inefficient process that lacks coordination. That’s where the new breed of software can help. 

2. Consistency
Create and maintain a set of procedures and guidelines that are easy to consistently follow. By establishing a process by which information is maintained, you are reducing the likelihood of human error and improving the integrity of the data related to each Job. This also effectively streamlines job completion and organizational efficiency. Also, it is essential to train new employees quickly and efficiently. With the proper software tools you will be able to cross-train your staff as well as yourself. 

3. Accountability/security
Clearly defined systematic controls on job information access ensure security and accountability across the organization. Not all information should been seen by all employees. By clearly outlining who should have a particular security access keep personnel focused on the relevant job information they’ll need while simultaneously protecting your customers and your business. 

4. Communication
Discussions between all parties involved in a job and access to all pertinent information is crucial. Keeping everyone on a project working together in a harmonious fashion, without unduly delaying or damaging others, is a complex task requiring coordination, cooperation, communication, and sometimes compromise. As difficult as it might be, this is what makes a project profitable.

5. Mobility
Keep on top of jobs no matter where you are. Access to critical information while on the jobsite or away from the office is key. Using a system that allows you to access job information remotely streamlines communication, job accuracy and completion. If your role in the business keeps you out of the office, evaluate a software tool that provides wireless access, access to key job information as well as information on daily business activities.

6. Relationship
Maintain a good rapport with your general contractors. The basic disciplines of on time, on budget and good quality work might not be enough to sustain a relationship. Most general contractors will appreciate fast and accurate information, quick summaries of job progress, and efficient billing and project auditing environment.

7. Compliance
Documentation protects you, your customers and your business. It is critical to each job that all compliance standards are met and are well-documented. Without this documentation a glazier is open to potential risks and liability that could be disastrous to the health of your business. Keep a window into all of your required records; use the new class of software.

8. Agility
The ability to quickly react to a job is vital. One of the most important steps in job management is detailed, systematic, team-involved planning. Invariably plans change and the ability to react quickly and efficiently is critical to keeping a job on track and all the parts moving in the right directions. Having a system in place to effectively communicate changes throughout the organization keeps job quality, morale and customer satisfaction high.

9. Analysis 
Learn from the past to predict the future. Make better decisions based on job and business with the use of relevant reporting and analysis tools. Reporting tools that track and create specific, customized reports are essential to understanding your current business as well as making the right decisions for the future. Integration to other analysis tools allows further customization.

10. Flexibility
No one runs their business using a single software system. Make sure when selecting a business management system that it can share data easily with other systems you’ll want to use or are already using. By choosing tools that make it easy to export data in other systems—like accounting system or analysis tools—save time, improve access and work more efficiently. 

Conclusion
A well-run business will have business management tools in place to organize, control and manage the day-to-day processes that bring profitability. In order to stay competitive, the industry must look to this new class of software products as the complexity of business requirements continue to grow. Without the proper tools, a business is at risk.  Without well defined processes and the disciplines to use them, monitor and analyze them, a business cannot compete in the long run.  

For a 10 Keys to Job Management Success webinar and the complete 10 Keys white paper, go to www.gtsservices.com/jm.

The author is director of sales and marketing at GTS, Portland, Ore., 503/968-4719, jimd@gtsservices.com.