I have received quite a few indications lately that Project Management is a real source of concern for many of this site's readers. And it is a subject that I have spent many hours working on in my own construction company. Building a project is an overwhelming commitment, and skipping even a small step can have disastrous results.
I have tried many of the project management software packages available (Gantt charts, Critical Path Methods, Excel spreadsheets, MSProject, Act!, BuildLinks, Contact Business Manager, and on and on), and have come to the conclusion that most of these applications, while technically sound and intellectually interesting, are too complicated and time-intensive to be of much use to the small builder. They just require too much maintenance to use consistently. I had the feeling that I could either keep up the monitoring process or see that the work got done, but there wasn't sufficient time to do both.
And if you are not consistent in the use of these applications, the applications have no value. Inevitably, the information needed is the information you did not get around to entering.
Unfortunately, builders don't get a pass just because it is difficult to do. For the sake of the business
I still need some tool that will assist me in managing the tsunami of information which must be captured, categorized and contained in the process of building a project.
Here is what I see as necessary in a Project Management tool:
A system that
I have been on the search for an easy-to-use, everywhere accessible, reasonably-priced Project Management tool for a long time.
I believe I have found it.
For the last couple of years, I have been using a Project Management application called ASANA. This is a Project Management SaaS (Software as a Service), which means that it operates in "the cloud". Your information is not tied to a specific computer, but is available at any device that allows you to connect to the Internet.
The benefits of this type of application are many, including the following:
· You can enter information on your desktop at the office and then retrieve that information on a smartphone or tablet at the job site.
· The information can be viewed and supplemented by anyone to whom you have given permission and access.
· You can establish teams including managers, designers, superintendents, and even clients and subcontractors, if you wish, who can be adding their input to projects and tasks on a real-time basis.
I will be working on templates to make Asana relevant to small builders, and will be making my findings available to clients and readers of this website.
One big caveat -- this is not a Gantt-based project management application. If that is a deal-breaker for you, this is not your solution. I love Gantt charts for the visual representation they provide of the inter-relationships of a project. The problem is that, once the project starts, the beautifully orchestrated Gantt chart turns into chaos. I found myself spending way too much time trying to keep the Gantt chart current, and finally just gave up on it. I went back to a "To Do" list, and it worked much better for me. The main thing I wanted to accomplish was to make sure I didn't miss an important task.
This application is a glorified, and incredibly useful, To Do list. It keeps you on track with tasks that are coming up, tasks that are late, and tasks that need to be scheduled. It reports to you about tasks you have assigned, and whether or not they are being performed.
You sleep better when you know that all the tasks and all your people are coordinated and communicating.
That's the basis of Asana. Click here to see their introductory video.
If you would like to try Asana, and I strongly recommend that you do, let's get started. The following will get you up and running.
Remember, the application is free to you as long as you stay under 30 contacts. Even when you go over that number, and you probably will if you add clients and subcontractors, it is only $100 per month up to fifty contacts. You can see the pricing information on the Asana website. For the independent builder, you should be able to control the number of contacts to minimize your costs. Stay under 30 contacts, and your monthly cost is $0.00.
Once you have opened your account and learned the basic navigation rules, it is time to set up a Project. To help you ramp up quickly, Builder-Resources.com offers a start-up service to get you up and running, and which you can easily modify to fit your needs. We have developed a comprehensive Project Template comprised of 323 steps.
This template is set up to allow you and any member of your team to
Builder-Resources will add the Construction Template to your Asana business account for you. You will receive instructions for how to permit Builder-Resources to access your Asana account, where we will add the template, and then how to remove Builder-Resources as a permitted contact. This is the same procedure you will use to add other members of your team.
The cost of this service is only $68.00, and it will save you hours of work and get you managing your jobs instead of setting up the application. Yes, you can undoubtedly build the template yourself. But why would you want to?
Builder-Resources has already done the work for you. There is no need to re-invent that particular wheel.
How can I get the Project Management Template Installed?
Check out the Builder Academy library of instruction videos
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