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2017 Construction Spending Trends Upwards

2017 construction spending trends upwards!Recently, the U.S. Census Bureau released their 2017 Construction Spending Monthly Report for September. This report is helpful for budgeting for 2018 and establishing underlying trends that may impact the construction industry both short-term and long-term. Below are key takeaways that you should consider.

What You Need to Know: September 2017 Construction Spending

  • During the first 9 months of 2017, construction spending amounted to a $38 billion increase compared to the same period in 2016 (a 4.3% increase from $879.6 billion to $917.0 billion.)
  • The private construction industry experienced a $28.5 million increase for the month of September compared to the same period in 2016 (a 3.1% increase from $914,271 million to $942,729 million.)
  • The public construction industry experienced a $4.5 million decrease for the month of September compared to the same period in 2016 (a 1.6% decrease from $281,370 million to $276,815 million.)
  • Residential construction experienced an impressive increase of $45 million for the month of September compared to the same period in 2016 (a 9.5% increase from $476,373 million to $521,445 million)

What Does this Mean for 2018?

We expect to see a continued increase in overall construction spending leading well into 2018 as the southeastern and southwestern United States continue rebuilding efforts after devastation caused from one of the most catastrophic Hurricane seasons on record.

Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics October Report confirmed many of the themes you have heard throughout 2017 regarding the war for talent within the construction industry. This is evident by a 1.2% decrease in construction unemployment rates from October 2016 to October 2017. Expect to see construction firms continue to invest in HR, talent management and recruiting solutions as they seek to find qualified workers.

Throughout the major construction verticals, job growth during the month of October breaks down as follows:

  • The construction industry as a whole added approximately 11,000 net new jobs
    • Non-Residential / Residential Building Construction added 3,900 net new jobs
    • Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction experienced a 3,000 job decline
    • Specialty Trade Contractors added an impressive 10,400 net new jobs

Are You Prepared to Compete in 2018?

As you can see, all signs point to a positive business climate in 2018. You should be excited about your firm’s prospects for continuing positive growth. However, you may have cause for concern if your firm has not adopted an agile recruiting and employee management process. Click on the link below to learn more.

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Say Thanks with these 3 Employee Engagement Ideas this Holiday Season

Finding and hiring the right talent is an expensive, burdensome, process. Yet, many firms fail to put in the effort and investment to retain their own top talent. Employee engagement continues to emerge as a critical driver of business success in today’s competitive business landscape. High levels of employee engagement promote retention of talent, foster long-term loyalty, and improve organizational performance and stakeholder value. But shockingly, according to Gallup, the percentage of “engaged” employees among the U.S. working population has remained at around one-third (33%) since Gallup began measuring employee engagement in 2000. Follow the below employee engagement ideas this holiday season and make your employees feel energized, motivated and strengthen the bond of your organization.

3 Employee Engagement Ideas

Volunteer as a Team

I’ve often heard the saying ‘people aren’t looking for a job, they are looking for a purpose.’ Volunteering for a great cause during the holiday season is the perfect way to give your staff a purpose and create a team atmosphere. Company-wide volunteer programs are one of the most effective ways to enrich your corporate culture and build a legacy of giving back that your entire team will find rewarding.

Pro-tip: If this is your first year coordinating a company-wide volunteer program, begin by sending out a survey to your entire team that gauges what causes and organizations employees are most passionate about as well as what skills they’re most interested in contributing.

Break Bread

Host a company-wide holiday meal! Provide turkey and ham and encourage employees to pitch in by bringing their favorite side dishes. Depending on the date and time of the event, consider streaming a sporting event for all to watch while eating.

Kick your company-wide holiday meal up a notch by participating in some fun team building activities. Ideas include:

  • Recipe swap: Ask each team member to bring recipe cards for their favorite holiday dish
  • Holiday-themed scavenger hunt: Break out into mini-teams and see what team can complete the scavenger hunt first
  • Decorate a “thankfulness” wall: Set-up a decorative wall and encourage employees to write down what they’re thankful for

Say “Thank You”

We are all human beings and genuine, yet simple, acts of recognition and appreciation are critical employee motivators. Improve your employee engagement this year by trying some of these tried but true ways of saying thank you:

  • Send short hand-written notes thanking direct reports for work-related and personal achievements
  • Distribute gift certificates for turkeys or hams. Nothing says ‘thank you’ like a great meal
  • Drop into an employee’s office for a handshake and a verbal acknowledgment of their continued hard work

Go Beyond the Holidays and Get Your Employee Engagement Strategy on Track

Remember, these employee engagement ideas are just a start. What you should really strive for this holiday season is to go beyond employee engagement to create meaningful relationships that last a lifetime. Doing so will reward you with not only with a strong employee retention rate but also with a culture that attracts the top-talent on the job market. Want to learn more about how to focus your employee engagement strategy? Download the white paper below!

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Construction KPI Dashboards: Creating Championship Level Projects through Analytics

See how to create championship level projects through construction KPI dashboards!Last night while watching game seven of the World Series I couldn’t help but notice how each team had optimized their rosters utilizing the “Moneyball” tactic – an approach to competition that emphasizes rigorous statistical analysis of player performance to field a team that can better compete against richer competitors. I quickly realized that this same “Moneyball” tactic was already being utilized by the top performing construction firms.  As the competitive business market continues to stiffen, top performing construction owners and project managers are utilizing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), metrics and project analytics – displayed in the form of easy to comprehend dashboards – to increasingly improve project performance and profitability. Let’s examine some common construction KPI dashboards that your organization can implement to help you win your next championship.

Examples of Construction KPI Dashboards

  1. Labor Costs: Actual Versus Baseline. Tracking and monitoring actual labor costs vs. baseline labor costs is a great way to monitor the overall health and profitability of your projects. On-screen dashboards and advanced reporting utilities allow project managers to compare original cost estimates, actual costs, projected costs and understand variances between labor costs, anytime, in detail throughout the life of the project.
  2. Estimate at Completion / Estimate to Complete. Schedule based metrics help your project managers to determine if projects are on budget and scheduled to finish within the overall budget. Tracking Estimate at Completion and Estimate to Complete in real-time allows project managers to add predictability to projects by forecasting the amount of money that will actually be spent on each project. Remember:
    • Estimate at Completion is the forecasted cost of the project, as the project progresses.
    • Estimate to Complete is a forecast of how much more money will need to be spent to complete the project.
  3. Quality Control. In order to consistently manage championship level projects, it is critical that our construction KPI dashboards are proactive as well as reactive. One way to accomplish this is to utilize key indicators to improve the quality of completed jobs. Projects with quality control issues often miss inspections and fall short on appropriate documentation. Consider creating construction KPI dashboards to monitor:
    • Number of inspections
    • Level of engineer or architect involvement
    • Overage, Shortage and Damage reports
    • Subcontractor records and qualifications
  4. Safety. A project accident or fatality can ruin the hard-built reputation of a construction company. A predictive construction KPI dashboard can help project managers create safe, OSHA prepared projects. Safety KPIs include:
    • Number of safety meetings
    • Communication and notification tracking
    • Personnel safety records
    • Project-by-project OSHA self-audit grading

Develop Your Own Construction KPIs

These are just a few examples of construction KPI dashboards championship level firms utilize to help their project managers navigate their busy schedules with real-time information. We would love to hear from you! Comment below to share with us the metrics or KPIs your firm is tracking.

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The Value of Replacing a Legacy ERP System During Disruptive Times

Disrupt Your Legacy ERP SystemYes, you can survive business disruption, just not with an outdated legacy ERP system at the core of your business.

Disruption. Nobody likes to think about it, but everyone knows it could be coming soon to their market—with or without warning. Disruption isn’t just new competition. It’s more than just an upstart business that comes along and starts doing what we’re doing, only a little bit faster and cheaper.

Disruption is a fundamental change in the way products or services are provided. It’s sending major bookstore chains into financial turmoil. It’s the iPhone and Android making pay phones obsolete—and threatening the existence of even the mighty landline.

Fortunately, according to Mint Jutras, an independent research and advisory firm specializing in ERP software, choosing the right ERP technology can help your business stay agile during disruption.

Disruption Comes in All Shapes and Sizes. Are You Ready?

If you’ve ever lost sleep thinking about potential disruption in your industry, you’re not alone. In the 2016 Mint Jutras Enterprise Solution Study, 88% of respondents said they believe there’s a risk of their businesses or industries being disrupted. This disruption could come in the form of new products, new sales approaches, new pricing models, entirely new business models, or a combination of the above.

Not surprisingly, Mint Jutras points to the internet and the digital economy as the primary enablers of disruption. When most of us ponder what will be the next disruptive force in our industry, we may very well picture a historically labor-intensive service being provided online for a fraction of the cost.

But as Mint Jutras reminds us, we can’t ignore traditional disruptors such as growth and regulatory change. Now, many businesses can respond to the growth of their competitors by seeking their own opportunities to expand into new markets—using the internet as a tool to level the playing field. But doing so may require rapid restructuring of the business. Agility will be the order of the day.

As for regulations, Mint Jutras warns that the impending changes to revenue recognition as a result of the merging of accounting standards (ASC and IFRS) will present accountants with some of the most significant challenges they’ve encountered since Sarbanes-Oxley. This, too, will put the onus on companies to manage their finances with highly flexible accounting software.

Don’t Let a Legacy ERP System Hold You Back

With the risk of disruption always looming, companies are responding by innovating—and they expect their ERP solutions to keep up. The need to customize ERP software hasn’t gone away. All that has changed is that companies now seek ERP solutions that won’t take months—and thousands of dollars—to customize or upgrade.

And that’s the rub. Too many companies want to innovate but are held back by an inflexible, monolithic legacy ERP system that won’t adapt. Is your company stuck in this situation? Are you frustrated with an ERP platform that either won’t keep up with your business, or will only do so after heavy, costly customization?

If so, you won’t want to miss this Mint Jutras report. Read it to learn the three signs that show you need a new ERP system—and to get recommendations on how to find a solution that’s agile enough to help you overcome the inevitable disruptions in your market and industry.

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Infographic: The Cost of Doing Nothing

One of the most common questions we receive is related to what the most common source of business system failure is. The answer is simple, inaction! Many firms evaluate new systems on a yearly basis but fail to act due to a number of reasons. The cost associated with an ERP implementation failure can have far-reaching effects. So what is the overall cost of inaction to your organization – or as we like to call it, “the cost of doing nothing.” This infographic will break down the overall impact ERP system implementation failures have on organizations both large and small.

ERP Implementation Failure: The Cost of Doing Nothing

Don’t Fall Victim to ERP Implementation Failure – Do Something!

Looking for more information on how you can avoid an ERP implementation failure? Read the entire white paper and dig deeper into the numbers.

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Understanding the ROI of Replacing Legacy Software

Are you considering upgrading your critical business solutions, but don’t know where to begin? Utilize a proven Return on Investment (ROI) analysis to measure your short-term gains and long-term success. This blog will help you understand the ROI of replacing legacy software in favor of a modern cloud-based solution.

Businesses often struggle with the decision to upgrade their business systems. Let’s be honest, the idea of changing systems at the very core of our organization is a scary proposition. However, the decision to upgrade to a modern cloud-based ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system from a legacy system is imperative if your business wants to grow. Upgrading your systems will require a significant investment of time and money, and should be researched thoroughly.  

The 411 on Legacy Systems

Before we go further, let’s first define what qualifies as a legacy ERP system, and discuss the challenges users face with outdated technology.

Legacy ERP systems are the business management systems you have been using for seven years of more. These systems were most likely state of the art when you purchased them and still tackle many of your company’s needs. However, the competitive landscape has changed drastically over the past decade and if you are not deploying the latest technology stack, you are putting your firm at an unfair disadvantage.

When you consider the overall ROI of maintaining legacy systems you must look at the overall cost of ownership. Things to consider include:

  • The cost of maintaining hardware to support the system
  • Limitations on user licensing and the burden of adding new users
  • Restricted avenues for training new users or retraining existing users
  • Difficulty integrating with other critical business systems
  • The burden of accessing up-to-date custom reports and retrieving the data remotely

These drawbacks hinder your growth and your company risks getting left behind, instead of staying on top of paradigm shifts in the software industry. As your competitors replace their systems, you lose the competitive advantage.

Breaking Down the ROI of Replacing Legacy Software

Upgrading your ERP to a modern cloud solution can save on average more than 20% in IT spending as a percentage of revenue and have been found to deliver 2.1x times the relative return on investment (ROI) of on-premise ones.

Calculating the ROI of replacing outdated ERP systems can be complicated. When it comes time for your upgrade consider:

  • Choosing the right method of ROI calculation
  • Including people costs in your projections
  • Identifying the direct and indirect benefits of your ERP project
  • Accounting for both first-year and ongoing costs
  • Predicting and measuring your future business success

 Clarify the Process. Break Down the Your ERP Cost Savings.

To assist you in understanding the ROI of replacing outdated legacy systems, Acumatica has put together a Whitepaper, Return on Investment (ROI) Analysis for ERP Replacement. The paper discusses how to calculate ERP cost savings.

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How Construction Firms Use LinkedIn to Take Networking to the Next Level

See how construction firms use LinkedIn to take networking to the next level!Networking for construction firms has historically been a process of repeating what has worked well in the past. Many contractors rely on the tactics with proven return on investment (ROI):  Attending or exhibiting at conferences and networking events, company listings in industry catalogs, sponsoring golf tournaments, and more. These are all great networking opportunities, but ask yourself – are you missing out on another ROI friendly networking opportunity? This blog is going to introduce how construction firms use LinkedIn to take their networking to the next level.

Why LinkedIn Should be Your Social Network of Choice

If you must choose only one social network to actively participate in, LinkedIn is the clear-cut winner. With over 500 million users, LinkedIn is the defacto social media network for professionals. Out of these 500 million users, over 40% of LinkedIn members are manager level and above, with more than 25% listed as senior executives. If you are looking for one place to connect directly to decision makers, LinkedIn is your social network of choice!

Ready for one more statistic? There are over 300,000 construction firms listed on LinkedIn. So if you aren’t actively networking on LinkedIn, your competition certainly is!

Tips for Networking on LinkedIn

Build a profile to impress | Before you can begin developing a LinkedIn network, you need a well-developed profile for potential connections to know whom they are connecting to. We’ve all heard the saying that first impressions matter, and on LinkedIn your profile is your chance for a positive first impression! Tips for a well-developed profile include:

  • Professional profile photo – Keep your profile professional and convey authority with a high-quality professional photo
  • LinkedIn endorsements – Skill endorsements provide potential connections with the confidence that you are established within the industry
  • Focus on relevant keywords – You want your profile to be seen. Including relevant keywords to your profession will help your profile rank in search results.
  • Make sure your profile is public – You want to make sure your profile is public for networking purposes. To make your profile public follow these steps:

Connections are the name of the game | LinkedIn is powered through connections. The more people you are connected to, the more potential connections will become available to you. If you are just starting out on LinkedIn begin with connecting to your colleagues, people you have done business with and various thought leaders throughout the construction industry.

Create a company page | If you do not already have a LinkedIn page for your company you need to create one ASAP. Company pages are one of the main ways how construction firms use LinkedIn to network. A LinkedIn company page will allow your firm to showcase your entire company, not just a single employee. I like to think of company pages as an extension of your website. Additionally, LinkedIn company pages allow you to:

  • Share important company news
  • Showcase your specialties and services
  • Highlight customers you have done business with
  • Receive alerts when someone mentions your company
  • Measure important statistics regarding the effectiveness of your LinkedIn posts

Participate in LinkedIn groups | One of the best ways to use LinkedIn to generate new leads for your business is to actively participate in LinkedIn groups. Doing so allows you to demonstrate your expertise and thought leadership. However, it is important to remember that groups are not the place to peddle a service or offering. Keep your interactions focused around providing insight and relevant information.

Learn More About How Construction Firms Use LinkedIn

Want to learn more about how construction firms use LinkedIn? Join Bobby Darnell for this free webinar highlighting business development best practices within the construction industry.

Can’t attend? No problem. Sign-up and you will receive an on-demand copy of the presentation after the event.

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6 Benefits Contractors Realize When Deploying Software Designed for Construction Firms

Check out the benefits of software designed for construction firmsFinding the right software package for your construction firm can become tedious and overwhelming. Do you feel comfortable working in a system designed for multiple industries, or do you want to deploy software designed for construction firms? Whether you have owned multiple Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems before, or if you are just looking to purchase your first solution, this guide will help you identify the features included in a complete construction software package that will not only meet but exceed your needs and expectations as your firm continues to grow.

Must Have Construction Software Features for Contractors

When it comes to software designed for construction firms, here are the must have features that will benefit your firm:

  1. Collaboration Tools to Enhance Communication: Because few construction projects are completed by a single company, contractors rely on collaboration tools that help project teams communicate and work better together. Popular functionality in collaboration tools includes plan room tracking where project documents and communications can be shared, modified and tracked with an audit trail.
  2. Productivity Tools: Workflows and dashboards are powerful features that help you design the flow of information, streamline communications, and automate and control key tasks that occur across your organization.
  3. Business Intelligence for the Entire Organization: Top construction firms go beyond simple report generation. Key operational and financial data should be presented throughout your construction management system to provide at-a-glance overviews of your projects, operations, and financial performance. Takes BI further by leveraging active Business Intelligence – set alerts and control the flow of communication and tasks across your organization.
  4. Integration Capability: In today’s competitive technology ecosystem integration capability is a must have. Firm’s need the ability for all their applications to seamlessly communicate with each other, virtually eliminating any double-entry and ensuring that the most up-to-date and complete information is available to you regardless of the task you are performing.
  5. Mobile-Friendliness for a Workforce On-the-Go: Your employees are constantly on the move and you need the ability for your software to run on virtually any device. Mobility allows your office staff to work across multiple monitors at their desks while project managers can access complete project information in the field on their tablets.
  6. Modern Technology for a Modern Workforce: When construction software is designed specifically for the cloud, you enjoy the benefits of a system that allows you to work from just about any connected device, anywhere and anytime, by simply launching a web browser. Break free from on-premise systems and move to the cloud and start enjoying this convenience without sacrificing control.

Add Long-Term Value with Software Designed for Construction Firms

To help you choose what construction software will work best for your firm, take some time to consider your typical project workflow. This process will help you decide what specific features will be essential for the unique challenges facing your construction business. Talk to your team and get an understanding of their current processes; it will be easier to get them on board with embracing new technology if it fits in with their existing methods and procedures with minimal disruption.
Have you already had experience using project management software for your construction business? Share your stories in the comments below!

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Changing the Game with Web Based Construction Management Software

Web Based Construction Management SoftwareSuccessfully managing complex construction projects requires commitment from your entire team, from accounting through project management and field operations. You’ve spent thousands of dollars and man hours winning work – you cannot afford to drop the ball during the project phase. The importance of executing projects with accuracy and efficiency is driving contractors to seek out better solutions to bolster their operations. Enter web based construction management software.

Web Based Construction Management Software vs. On-Premise

When your construction firm adopts a web based construction management software you can access your information from any Internet-connected via a browser. An interface optimized for the internet means you spend less time digging through menu items and more time managing your projects. Web based software provides you with the critical information you need in the field without sacrificing the analytics and detail you need in the office. Additionally, when your construction project management software is powered by the cloud you improve security while simultaneously freeing up your information technology team to tackle the day-to-day challenges facing your team.

What Features Should You Look for in Web Based Construction Management Software?

Cloud based construction management software is designed to help you streamline your operations and improve profitability. Here are three reasons contractors are ditching on-premise systems and moving to the cloud:

  1. Project Cost Management | The bottom line for every project manager is the financial bottom line – keeping projects on track to a profitable result. Complete solutions track real-time job costs and progress data and turn the information into actionable data.Your solution should include the ability to create a project health dashboard using numerous data sources that track project key performance indicators such as cost-to-complete, work-in-progress, and earned revenue. Reduce project induced stress with the ability to drill down directly into the project details that are affecting profitability – issues such as unbilled change orders, delayed approval on submittals, or unpaid invoices.
  2. Project Collaboration | Communication and collaboration is often cited as one of the biggest differentiators between a successful and disastrous project. You need the ability to easily share information with your entire project team with a singular cloud-based application that allows you to store all of your project documents from plans and specs to financials and submittals; accessible anywhere from any device.
  3. The Power of the Cloud | Many contractors struggle with consolidating and organizing data from multiple applications to manage their projects. Complete web based construction management software solutions provide a singular platform for viewing critical operational data that serves every team member. Keep your project staff on the same page by providing them with customizable dashboards that enable them to select from a library of applications to view the information that is most important to their role, then drill down into details with one click.

Learn More

See why we recommend Spectrum Project Management as the only complete web based construction management software for tracking and managing the flow of work – and the flow of cash – associated with a construction project.

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Construction CRM for Contractors: Uncompromised Business Intelligence

Construction-CRM-for-ContractorsContractors often tell us that they are seeking better ways to sync their firm’s business intelligence between their office staff and road warriors. Firms that fail to implement a mobile-friendly Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system waste time and money, lose critical project intelligence and struggle to deliver on customer expectations. It’s time to ditch outdated spreadsheets and manual processes and see how you can win more work with a mobile-friendly construction CRM system designed specifically for contractors.

Why Should I Choose a Construction CRM System Designed for Contractors?

A centralized CRM solution enables contractors to cultivate relationships and gain valuable insights into account/project management efforts. But what does this mean for your firm? Construction CRM for contractors means bringing together data from all project related data sources to provide a comprehensive real-time view of each customer or opportunity. This real-time knowledge provides your team with the metrics and data needed to make informed decisions in a quick, yet calculated manner.

What Does CRM Mean for the Key Players at My Construction Firm?

A construction CRM system benefits each member of your firm, including:

  • Business Owners | Quickly log critical information or reminders from the office or while on the road. Never lose a critical contact’s information ever again by storing contact information in one centralized location. Readily available intelligence allows your business development staff to go out and produce, and track results.
  • Project Managers | Gain a 360-degree view of your projects by combining customer information with job status updates and project financials. Doing so will help you outperform the competition and win more repeat work.
  • Construction Accountants and Controllers | Adopt an integrated construction CRM solution to help monitor the critical financial sources that impact your firm, including bids and opportunities, current jobs, marketing programs and sales opportunities. Align your accounting, project management, and CRM systems to better understand what efforts are working, and what efforts need attention.
  • Business Development and Marketing | Never miss out on an important project again! Bid tracking and management tools allow you to understand what bids are in the pipeline, when each is due, who is working on them and document the next step. Reporting tools provide you with critical insights into profitability by customer, division, territory and more.

How Does a Construction CRM System Impact Future Growth?

The answer is simple; a CRM solution designed for contractors means that as your business grows, your established contacts and relationships grow with it. It is important to not only track valuable customer data but to do so in a way that promotes sharing amongst your team. Promote growth and sharing and consider taking your customer data into the cloud with an all-in-one mobile-friendly CRM solution that consolidates all your information into an easy to access system.

Improve Business Intelligence with a Construction CRM for Contractors

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