Wagon Build a Huge Success January 19, 2013Posted by carolhagen in communication.
Tags: construction, Girl Scouts, Wagon Build, Women
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The Advancing Women in Construction (AWIC) at Arizona State University and Girl Scouts troops from around the valley gathered to assemble their cookie wagons today.
With 56 girls from 20 troops working together with troop leaders and volunteers at the USE building parking area the Wagon Build project was deemed a success.
We all took a lunch break, consuming 30 pizzas from Papa John’s.
Much work was done by each girl scout troop, painting, assembling and decorating their wagons while meeting students in ASU’s construction program along with women (and a few men) working in architecture, engineering and the construction industry.
Awards for Best Teamwork, Best Cookie Theme and Best in Show plus goodie bags for all. Thank you to our sponsors, volunteers, cash donations from CFMA and AWIC for a great event.
It was wonderful participating as a volunteer and hope this becomes an annual event. Now go buy some girl scout cookies!
Tags: benchmarks, CFMA, construction, Construction best practices, metrics
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The Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA) has a hidden gem that outsiders are unaware of. It’s the Benchmarking Builder, part of the CFMA’s Annual Financial Survey. This serves as a measurement of how you are doing compared to the “Best In Class” construction firms across the United States and provides your firm with goals to strive for. These financial measurements are critical to success for Construction Owners while they face new challenges as the economic recovery kicks into gear.
In a recent ConstructionBusinessOwner.com article entitled, “Benchmark Your Financials: Gain a Competitive Edge Comparing Metrics“, Glenn Wattum, a partner with Moss Adams LLP points out how important benchmark metrics are to the success of your contracting firm. Measuring against peers offers valuable insight for setting strategic goals. There are metrics for Highway/Heavy, General Contracting and Specialty Trades to compare apples to apples in the CFMA Benchmarker.
Why is this in a technology blog? It’s because the Benchmarking Builder is available on-line at www.financialbenchmarker.com. And once registered, you’ll have access to many options and these specific metrics:
No it’s not free and while I’m a member of the CFMA, I was not solicited or paid to write this post. I wrote this in hopes of helping the construction industry become more successful and promoting the importance of networking with your peers. The CFMA is a great organization, has local chapters across the country and the members will tell you that “Building Profits” Magazine alone is worth the price of membership.
Have you used the benchmarker? Why or why not?
Past articles you may also find of interest:
A New Way to Consume Carol’s Construction Technology December 24, 2011Posted by carolhagen in communication.
Tags: construction publishing
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Google Currents App (like Flipboard on ios) has my construction, social media & technology content. Read it all in here from your smartphone http://t.co/uyL9HqRl
Construction Budgeting Resource for Arizona December 8, 2011Posted by carolhagen in budgeting, Construction Industry - Cash Flow Forecasting.
Tags: budgeting, construction, hr, Payroll, salary
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Construction company budgets are heavily weighted to the salary and compensation plans of their employees. Whether it’s the chief estimator, accountant or IT director, knowing what the going rates are in your area can help you budget and ultimately attract the best talent to your construction firm. Here in Arizona, the Valley of the Sun Chapter of the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA) is conducting an on-line Construction industry salary survey. You can get this resource for free just by participating.
Take the AZ Construction Salary Survey on-line: https://novisurvey.net/n/7g2.aspx
Many of the regional associations have been invited to participate including:
The results will be broken down by company demographics: number of employees and type of contractor so you can make meaningful comparisons. There are questions on economic indicators, employee development, employee benefits and employee compensation.
View the questions before taking the survey: 2011 AZ Construction Salary Survey
All contractors (GCs, highway/heavy and trades) doing business in the state are welcome to participate. Every firm that completes the survey will receive a copy of the results for free in early 2012. Everyone else will have to pay $100. Deadline is December 15, 2011. Start the survey now on-line: https://novisurvey.net/n/7g2.aspx
Copies can be purchased on-line. For more information visit http://chapters.cfma.org/ValleyOfTheSun/index.htm
Please share this with others in the industry as the more contractors who participate, the more valuable this construction resource will be.
Construction Collaboration: PDF Secrets Part 2 – On-line Meeting for PDF Changes Now or Later July 6, 2011Posted by carolhagen in communication, Construction Industry - Software, Document Imaging, project management software, records retention, Sharepoint, web conferencing.
Tags: AEC, collaboration, construction, PDF, PDF Editing, web chat, web conferencing
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Construction Collaboration often involves sharing documents during an on-line web meeting. While many solutions allow for these sessions to be recorded, there are few that let you leave it open for up to 2 weeks, append to the meeting later, or provide a way to capture the log of the discussion, particularly when changes are made to a “working” PDF. The problem is the method to make these annotations because the web based sessions are typically screen captures of the presenter’s desktop. There is a better way to work on PDFs with individuals or teams which can track, log and hyperlink to the PDF area details. Automatically documenting and capturing the recorded modifications on the PDF for construction project teams with Bluebeam® Studio Server™. You have to see it to believe it.
Let’s take a look at a Bluebeam Studio Session. In this example there are questions concerning the placement of lighting. Note that the chat session captures all annotations and jumps to the view of that persons workspace when they added that annotation.
Bluebeam® Studio Server™ allows you to connect, create and collaborate with anyone, anywhere, at any time. Simply upload your PDFs to Studio and invite attendees from across the globe to view and comment on your PDFs. Chat and add markups to the same PDF together in real-time or separately on your own. Markups and chats are tracked in a Record that links back to the PDF to easily review session activity. You can even create a report of your Studio session to archive or share with your team. With Bluebeam construction collaboration delivers complete version control and report access that you can upload to Sharepoint or ingest into your Enterprise Content Management System automatically using a monitored folder.
Whether you need clarifications from the architect, engineer, General contractor, owner or principal, subcontractor or supplier you can capture the suggestions from each participant, whether you’re all on-line simultaneously, or invitees join later with new ideas or alternatives. If revisions occur later, you can receive email notification that more revisions have been added to the session. Bluebeam has more PDF collaboration power for the AEC industry. In Part 3 we’ll discuss AutoCad and Revit.
If you missed part 1, you may want to read the previous post PDF Secrets: Estimating takeoff from PDF. If you can’t wait for the rest of this series, You probably want to watch this video:
Bluebeam PDF Revu 9 – The Acrobat Alternative Or just Take Revu 9, Bluebeam Studio or Q for a spin with a 30 Free A Trial
Disclosure: Bluebeam software impressed me so much that I recently became an authorized reseller.
Microsoft Takes My Advice on Skype May 10, 2011Posted by carolhagen in communication, Construction Industry - Software, VOIP, web conferencing.
Tags: Kinect, Microsoft, skynet, skype, videoconferencing, Xbox
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Microsoft’s Skype acquisition was overdue. It was January 8, 2011 when I Tweeted:
Just thinking Microsoft could have more Kinect sales if you could use it to Skype. #business
With the official announcement, Microsoft has plans to add Skyping to more than the Kinect and xBox but that alone can convert to huge revenues. By the time Christmas rolls around Microsoft will have kids complaining they can’t use their game consoles because their parents are hogging it for video conferencing. For the small business owner, contractor, and consultant with a home office, this will justify the Kinect purchase as a business expense – so the kids that don’t have a Kinect and Xbox yet, are almost certainly guaranteed a new toy.
With 170+ million connected Skypers around the world many seem worried that their long distance family time will be interrupted. Not to worry as Microsoft is sure to serve up ads on the free service to help them sell gaming consoles and games – 207 billion minutes of voice and video conversations in 2010 is a whole lot of advertising airtime. I suspect that they’ll somehow determine from customer usage patterns or social profiles that small business Skypers should also see Office 365 Ads and every other cloud based offering Microsoft develops. Most IT staff are Skypers too so the potential Ad reach is targeted to Microsofts core audience.
So does this mean LiveMessenger and LiveMeeting are dead? Not by a longshot. Wired Magazine doesn’t think this was a great business technology purchase in their Why Exactly? article, but there is overlap.
There are other factors involved that are mentioned by Forbes Combine all this with the mobile smartphone Ad reach and you see why Microsoft was willing to spend so much money.
Will you be using your gaming console at home to Skype? Will small business owners and contractors move their Xbox into their office? We’d love to hear from you and look forward to your comments.
Construction Project Managers Go Mobile September 1, 2010Posted by carolhagen in communication, Construction Industry - Software, iPhone, Payroll Time Collection, project management software.
Tags: android, blackberry, construction, construction project management, iPad, iPhone, mobile, project management
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Update September 27, 2010: Project Manager views Job Alerts on iPad using Corecon Mobile
Update: Project Manager uses iPhone to access construction documentation
Construction Project Managers main line of communication is their mobile device. Whether it’s texts, emails or phone calls your smartphone has become the primary tool of the trade. What’s missing? Applications designed to improve collaboration that you can navigate efficiently on your cell phone or iPad. Today I want to introduce you to what I suspect will be a best friend to homebuilders, architects, engineers, and commercial contractors and subcontractors. The Corecon Mobile solution. This is part one in a series of 5 posts on what construction project managers want access or update on a job when they are out of the office.
To be clear, Corecon is something that my firm markets to the construction industry and I believe that they’ve hit the nail on the head. First it won’t matter which smartphone you have. Corecon Mobile will work on all these devices:
* Apple – iPhone
* Apple – iPad
* Google – Android
* Microsoft – Windows Mobile
* Palm – Palm OS
Wait, you did read that correctly…the iPad too. Corecon is a web-based estimating, project management and scheduling system that has managed to roll-out mobile apps at no cost to the Corecon client. No need for virtual servers, or IT staff to keep Corecon running. They believe in value and have delivered. So what areas of the Corecon system have they included in their first Mobile deployment? The list is impressive:
* Leads Listing
* Lead Directory
* Bid Calendar
* Project Directory
o Daily Log
o Owner Items
o Safety Accidents
o Comply Notices
o Work Orders
* Time Entry
All this with no need to install anything extra on your device. Just access to the internet and a subscription to Corecon. The mobile portion is free. In essence Corecon delivers value to their customers and their smartphones. Here’s a Comply Notice screenshot to wet your whistle.
Tune in tomorrow for more. Over the next few days we’ll be showcasing more than screen shots with actual video of just how easy it is to access, create, update and share these documents from the device of your choice. We’d like to hear what you think about the evolution of technology for managers in the field and on the go.
Update: Blackberry used by Project Manager to access contact directory in Corecon Mobile V7:
I should also mention that Corecon has a fabulous integration to Quickbooks, SAP and Simply Accounting so contractors won’t need to rekey the data and worry about transposing errors. Smaller firms can have all their accounting, estimating, project managmeent and scheudling in the Cloud so the overhead for fancy PCs, backups and loading updates is over. The future has arrived!
What has your construction firm been using your smartphone for other than email and phone calls? Leave comments and share this with others.
The Free Droid Apps have me Hooked December 10, 2009Posted by carolhagen in communication, Construction Industry - Software, Document Imaging.
Tags: apps, construction, Droid, iPhone, Smartphone
Ok, I had told everyone that I was waiting to buy it, but like a kid waiting for Christmas, my techie side got the best of me. In an earlier post I noted app faves for Blackberry and iPhone. Now I have to give you my Droid list.
Google Navigator with Voice Search – for Hands free navigation (Garmin-like GPS with voice recognition) – Found my way to appointments in Tucson with no glitches the day after I purchased. Since it’s Google its updates are simple and the app is Free on the Droid.
Voice Recorder – up to 2 hours of record time, when you’re driving and have something you need to remember or you have a complex meeting discussion for reference, record it then drop it into your Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system.
Pixelpipe Lite – for sharing stuff, and sending it to EverNote or an ECM system.
Swift – for those that need to Twitter, it’s better than TwitDroid unless you want geo locations annotation. There’s an app called Google Maps for Twitdroid for that.
Bizkit – for tracking expenses on the road, meetings, events and finding my nearest contacts.
BabelDroid – to translate from English to Spanish, German, Italian or French using voice recognition – will eventually offer call an interpreter. It works well for phrases and comes in handy here in Arizona with construction personnel in the field.
Congress – to find your legislator based upon your current location, by state, or zip. Being able to email or call them immediately is handy.
Google Goggles – it’s easy and fun to aim your camera and know what you are looking at. Great for landmarks, artwork, etc.
Google OCR – good for printed text that you need to edit.
Google Sky Maps – for you wanna be astronomers.
National Anthem – for when someone wants to have it played and there are no musicians or singers volunteering.
Trapster – for reminding you of where all those photo radar cameras are on the highways and intersections (they are everywhere in Tempe, I-10, SR 51, etc in Arizona).
I realize that like the iPhone, the Droid will create a few hurdles for the IT department (that I hope to address in an upcoming blog post) since they have Blackberry Enterprise Server already deployed and now the owner wants the latest toy (again). Let me know if I should add any other apps to my “free” list. I will be trying out the paid stuff over the holidays and focus on construction and business related apps in a future post.
Did you say free web conferencing? July 22, 2009Posted by carolhagen in communication, web conferencing.
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Most contracting firms have used Webex or Go2meeting either by inviting or being invited to an on-line seminar or web conference. There are many other players in this marketplace like Intercall and Skype. Yes I said Skype, the free video calling that Oprah promotes and the game show Millionaire uses to call an expert.
So did you know that Skype 4.0 (and subsequent releases) has video conferencing available with screen sharing? This is completely free but if you need to have large groups, and send invites ahead of time you’ll want a 3rd party add-on called InnerPass to make it more business friendly. You’ll need to pay for InnerPass, but for a significantly smaller fee than you pay on the popularly advertised web conferencing systems. I learned about this from an OPEN Small Business Forum from American Express but since 95% of all contractors are small businesses, and larger firms have suppliers, customers and outsourced IT guys that would find this helpful, I thought it appropriate to share it with you too.
You’ll need a headset & microphone from your laptop, and a webcam if you want video. This solution works great with Outlook and Xobni too. Try it out for your next one-on-one instant web conference and you won’t be sorry. I’d like to encourage you to share your experiences and add your comments to this blog entry after trying it out.
Cash Flow Forecasting Solution July 1, 2009Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Cash Flow Forecasting, Construction Industry - Software.
We all know that cash flow is the life blood of our business (whether you’re a contractor or a CPA firm). For those of you that do forecasting, I’ve noticed that Microsoft Excel is popular. But are we spending hours on formulas, creating multiple worksheets and successfully extrapolating all the data accurately and efficiently? Do we roll over data to forecast the next 6 months with a mouse click or spend 30+ minutes performing cut & pastes? Can we create what-if scenarios that help us to understand the impact of changes in expenses, sales or receivables collection? Do you know how long your cash will last?
It’s not unusual for a CFO, controller or outside consultant to develop a company’s sales forecast from a marketing plan developed in an Excel™ spreadsheet, then drop the numbers into the company’s forecast. A time consuming process! The time consumed is the task of developing the sales numbers as it relates to a marketing campaign.
I found a better tool that looks like Excel in many respects but has the bells and whistles that a CFO, financial manager, controller and the CPA professional will appreciate. To see your future rather than the past, to become more goal oriented, take a peek at Up Your Cash Flow (UYCF).
UYCF can be used on all types of business and it has specific features that contractors will appreciate like revenue and collection using % of completion to provide net revenue analysis, job cash flow analysis, credit availability data and 5 year forecasts for your Balance Sheet, Profit & Loss Statement, and Cash Flows. If you have multiple businesses or numerous clients you can analyze up to 98 entities and then compare 5 of them at a time. Annual ratios and footnoted assumptions will explain how your numbers were calculated in layman’s terms so the executive can understand the report contents. Should you need to manage cash more closely, one to thirteen week “weekly” cash flow forecasting capabilities are built-in.
The need for developing “dynamic financial plans” that will both change as facts and circumstances change and also allow management and their counsel to predict and manage the future financial activities of the business is paramount for survival. You must develop and manage a “dynamic financial plan” that will increase cash flow, profitability, and help management foresee its financial future today. I hope this helps you and I expect to see you all still contracting or consulting the construction industry in 2010, 2012 and beyond.