2019 Best Places to Work in Illinois

Common Sense Solutions was recently named as one of the 2019 Best Places to Work in Illinois.  The awards program began in 2006 and is promoted by The Daily Herald Business Ledger in partnership with the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, MRA-The Management Association, the Small Business Advocacy Council and Best Companies Group.

This statewide survey and awards program was designed to identify, recognize and honor the best places of employment in Illinois, benefiting the state’s economy, workforce and businesses.  The 2019 program honored Common Sense Solutions as one of the top 30 companies in the small employer category.

Companies from across the state entered the two-part process to determine the Best Places to Work in Illinois.  The first part consisted of evaluating each nominated company’s workplace policies, practices, and demographics.  This part of the process was worth approximately 25% of the total evaluation.  The second part consisted of an employee survey to measure the employee experience.  This part of the process was worth approximately 75% of the total evaluation.  The combined scores determined the top companies and the final ranking.

Storm Season Is Upon Us… Are You Protected?

It’s not too late to prepare for those pop-up storms that occur randomly at this time of year, often resulting in everything from ice damage to lightning fires. During this time of year the threat of fire, flood, severe storms, water damage from office sprinklers and even theft is very real.

One of the most valuable assets for any company is its data. Hardware and software can easily be replaced, but a company’s data cannot!

As a reminder to all of our clients and friends, here are some simple things you should do to make sure your company is ready for any natural disaster.

  1. Back Up Your Data Remotely!
    Everyone knows that data should be backed up on a daily basis, but many people still use in-house backup systems that will get damaged in a natural disaster or fire, and can easily be stolen. We recommend backing up all data to an off-site location, and we offer this as a service to our clients.
  2. Use A Quality Surge Protector With Uninterruptible Power Supply Battery.
    A high-quality surge protector combined with an uninterruptible power supply battery backup will go a long way in protecting sensitive electronic equipment from surges and other electronic irregularities that can destroy your computer’s circuitry.
  3. Make Sure Your Servers Are Off The Floor Or In The Cloud.
    If your office gets flooded, having your equipment off the floor will prevent it from being completely destroyed. Server racks can be purchased and installed very inexpensively. Or consider moving your critical server equipment to the cloud and be protected no matter the weather!
  4. Have A Disaster Recovery And Business Continuity Plan.
    Every business should have some type of plan in place for continued operation after a disaster. Would people know where to go? Who to call? How to log in and access data remotely? Hopefully you’ll never need it, but having a simple plan will make you sleep a lot easier at night knowing you have a way to continue to operate when disaster strikes.

If you need help implementing any of these practices, please give us a call at 888-523-2568 and we will be glad to help!

Top Terrible Mistakes—Number 10

We just completed our 25th year in business, and it got me to thinking about what we’ve learned over all these years. We’ve worked with hundreds of contractors, and I’m always searching for the common threads for those who are highly successful, as opposed to those who are just barely making it, or in some instances, are no longer around.

As I was preparing to speak to a group of electrical contractors recently, I decided to put some of those lessons into a David Letter-man like Top 10 list for the presentation. (For those of you who are too young to know who David Letterman is, please proceed to google David Letterman top 10 list).

I’ll start this month, as David always did, with number 10 (you have to supply the drum roll):

Terrible Mistake #10
Poor Project Start, with No Plan or a very Poor Plan. Exhibited by scheduling disasters, lack of follow up, consistent paperwork delays, and project foremen who don’t understand the scope of work. The impact of those issues will be felt on the project with under-utilization, poor productivity, missed change orders and inevitable overruns.

  • Project kick off (a.k.a. hand-off meeting):
    • Estimating and project manager/foreman must be included, and the key is to re-view the scope of work in detail
    • Use a checklist for job start, which ideally would be standardized and documented in a CRM system
  • Utilize project management tools that are:
    • Integrated with job cost
    • Integrated with documents
    • Include multiple events/to do lists
    • Allow for revised schedules
  • Utilize a scheduling system that easily lets you know:
    • Are there any jobs not scheduled?
    • Are there any resources not scheduled? Nothing is more costly than not having resources on job when needed.
    • Can two and four week forecasts be utilized?
    • How can material delivery be factored in?

Scheduling is a complex question and every company handles it differently. The way you schedule depends on a wide variety of factors including how many resources need to scheduled, how many projects are running concurrently, how often it changes, and the complexity of resources needed to schedule.

Do you identify with any of the components of this mistake? What actions have you found that have helped you resolve those issues?
Whatever actions you have already taken, plus perhaps utilizing some of the above actions, won’t guarantee that every project turns out wildly profitable. There are no guarantees, of course, but if you implement all or most, your odds of success just went way up.

Stayed tuned next edition for number 9 on the list.