Can you imagine a business that would put workers in the field, hand them millions of dollars worth of inventory and then skimp on the quality of mobile connectivity they have with their main office, material inventories, and allied trades? It would be unimaginable, even reckless, yet that’s exactly what some builders do.
A builder’s employees or subcontractors are given control over construction but often are left “in the dark ages” with just the ability to call the home office to have questions answered. Crazy. They really should have at their fingertips all related documents, schedules, and purchase orders, so that the “mobile office” has the same information as the “back office,” giving jobsite supers the power and knowledge to make command decisions to move the job ahead. With tablets, mobile PCs, and iPads, there’s no excuse for anything less in the field. What’s more, as you provide mobile access to workflow data, you can use fewer workers, both in the field and in the back office.
The question is, how and what exactly should be accessed from the field? That’s where portal technology comes into play. With a portal that is dedicated to the super, to the trade, to the vendor or to the sub, each player in the home building process can log in – it’s as easy as online banking – and access a “command center” that is specific to their scheduled events, their purchase orders, their invoices, and their job-specific information, like color sheets, selected options, etc.
To show how effective this can be, here’s an example: One of our clients, a Midwest builder with 155 starts a year, accesses the BuilderMT Workflow Management Suite and our portal technology, and by doing so they recently told us that they can add another 55 starts without adding a single new staff person.
With a well-designed portal a trade, vendor, or sub can access a customizable “dashboard” that showcases any builder updates or events that affect the trading partner. Every portal uniquely provides secure viewing screens that offer critical data for individual trade partners, such as approved, issued, or cancelled purchase orders and event schedules that can be viewed by projected, schedule, or completion dates. Schedule notifications can be automatically triggered through the portal’s scheduling tool and delivered to any individual web portal or redirected by the builder or trade to an email box or wireless device. We believe that a portal strategy is essential to any successful home building operation today.
Finally, we recommend builders step back from their current process and review the “pain points.” Often times these are a result of poor technology and lack of seamless integration. Once the builder has the right technology and is not limited by the technology, they can start seeing dramatic improvement in their profits, reduction in cycle time, and improved staff efficiency.