6 Tips to Keeping Your Data Safe

Do you sleep well at night knowing all your company data is secure and safe? If you do, you might be kidding yourself as each day hackers find new ways to infect systems to get to your data.

It only takes one time for your data to be hacked or released to someone that will use it against you and your clients, which obviously carries a substantial risk to your company. Here are 6 areas that can help keep your data secure.

  1. Employee Access. It is essential to put limits on employee access to company data. Computers and servers with password protection will ensure this, but remember to change passwords and access rights when members of staff leave your company – particularly if you store data in the cloud. Having a password policy in place is essential for keeping your data secure.
  2. Security Software. You should have firewalls and anti-virus protection on all devices used by your company. Also, employ encryption protocols to make it difficult for them to view the data if they do breach your security. All Windows computers now come with BitLocker, which is a full disk encryption feature that should be considered.
  3. Updates. It is essential to keep all your devices up to date with updates. This includes the operating systems and the soft-ware installed on them. Usually all updates released have security updates included in them which is critical to keeping your data secure. For mobile devices this can also be handled by a mobile device management system like Microsoft Intune.
  4. Remote Wiping. With more mobile devices being used by companies, the concern of those devices being lost or stolen is a large risk. Remote wiping software can delete data and potentially stop this issue. Apple offers a remote wipe function as standard (provided devices are signed up to iCloud) and Google offers a similar solution via the Google Apps Device Policy app. Office 365 also offers a solution with Intune which is a mobile device management application that can wipe devices.
  5. Choose A Reliable Cloud Provider. If you store much data in the cloud, make sure you choose a reputable and secure solution. Microsoft, Amazon, Google and Apple all offer leading security for their cloud solutions, and you can purchase more storage when necessary. If you would prefer to keep your data on your own private servers, choose a well-known hosting provider.
  6. Make Sure You Have Cyber Liability insurance Coverage. We’re not affiliated with any insurance carriers, but often clients will request that we help them fill out the questionnaires for cyber insurance coverage, which is generally relatively inexpensive coverage.

ERP? It’s Greek to Me!

What is ERP and How to Buy One …

ERP (Enterprise Resources Planning) software isn’t something new, it’s been around for quite some time. An ERP solution encom-passes technology that manages all of a company’s business critical operations. For a contractor, this functionality typically includes estimating, project management, accounting, service and scheduling, field operations, human resources, sales, inventory and more. That’s a lot to cover under one software umbrella!

A few ERP programs have all or most of the functionality required. The other alternative – a point solution – handles only one aspect of the business, such as estimating. The number of choices can get confusing, and we talk to many people who just don’t know what the best solution is for them.
I recommend if you are looking for new business software, start with the following steps. I call it the DART process

  1. Define your business goals and current needs. Seems obvious, right? However, you’d be surprised how many people miss this critical first step and jump right into shopping. In order to make a good decision on new software, what are your drivers and compelling events? The more detailed and defined your answers are, the better your chances of finding the right system. As part of this step, define the current issues, bottlenecks, and problems you have with your current processes and systems. Using this list will provide a great tool in mapping your existing needs to a new ERP system.
  2. Assess your budget. Systems vary in cost and functionality, so it’s important to realistically understand what you can spend. We’ve been in the room when people fall in love with that perfect $50,000 solution, and share their disappointment when they can’t do it because they have a $10,000 budget. Keep in mind that with today’s cloud solutions you can reduce the upfront investment significantly allowing for more buying power, but that purchase will cost more over the long run. When assessing your budget, look at not only the up-front investment for the new solution, but the cost savings by implementing the new system as well. Understanding your return on investment will help quantify the financial impact and may even justify a bigger budget.
  3. Resources Required. Once you have determined your project and budget, you will need to understand the impact on internal resources required to implement a new system. Who will be your internal project manager? Who will be using the software? Who will be the stakeholders of this project? For the project to be successful, it is important to get agreement and buy in from the top down on what the goals are, and provide direction and assistance to those employees participating to make it a success. It is also very important to understand how the new system will affect everyone and how much time the team needs to spend for the project to be successful. If employees already have a heavy workload, they might resist spending more hours on a new system unless they fully understand the benefit to the company and to them individually as well.
  4. Timeline. What are the compelling events driving your company’s go-live date? There are many considerations on the best and worst times to implement a system such as peak season, holiday and summer hours, or month end or quarter end. You don’t want to implement a new system during your busy season if you can avoid it. Sometimes you can’t avoid scheduling is-sues, but planning for them in advance goes a long way to a stress-free implementation.

Now you are finally ready to start talking to vendors and shopping for a new system. Armed with the information you have collected in the above steps, comparing the features and functionality of software to meet your needs should be easier. We know that making a decision on which software to choose to run your business is a critical one. If done correctly, the next system you buy should be the last system your company ever needs to buy.

If you start down the DART process and find you have a lot of questions, that’s okay – it’s complicated and not something you do on a regular basis. But we do! For the last 25 years, we’ve helped businesses find and implement new software. So if you’re thinking about new software to improve your business in 2019, give us a call.

Keep the Growth Growing With Construction CRM

The economy is doing great and many construction companies are reaping the benefits.  According to the statistics portal, Statista, in 2017 new construction in the United States was valued at 1.23 trillion dollars, up from 788 billion dollars in 2011 when construction spending reached the lowest level in a decade.   The industry is on track to continue its growth and is expected to generate some 1.5 trillion dollars in revenue by 2022.

If you’re one of the fortunate businesses riding the economy high tide, how do you sustain continued growth, and how do you continue to increase revenue when the business climate slows down?  And if your business is not experiencing increased revenue right now, how do you get there?

A common thread in the successful contractors we’ve talked to is that they’ve implemented a CRM system.  Here are some reasons why:

  • Putting in new CRM software (or any business critical software for that matter)  forces a business to document, review, and evaluate their mission-critical processes. Integrating and automating best practices improves efficiency and increases margins.   Anyone will tell you this is a painful process, but well worth it in the end.
  • The need for centralized data among the sales and estimating teams is important. Organizations that are better able to manage their opportunities have a competitive advantage; they know what business is closed, what business is going to hit soon, and can more accurately forecast job and labor costs.
  • Data provided by a CRM system is no crystal ball, but it will give you a jump over the competition with decisions in purchasing/inventory, earlier project staffing and hiring decisions (having a hard time finding good talent lately?), and many other areas. Centralized CRM data also improves communication between the sales and estimating teams by automatically documenting and sharing emails, follow-up calls and activities.
  • We know construction companies have multiple systems. A system for estimating, a tool for quoting, Excel spreadsheets for just about everything, email for sending documents, and a separate system to keep track of job costs and accounting.   Profitable and growing companies report that streamlining processes and eliminating the need to rekey information in multiple places saves money, time, and improves customer satisfaction.  A good CRM program allows you to manage and store estimates, automate quotes, generate and archive email and other communication – all of which should seamlessly convert when a job is won – automatically creating budgets, purchase orders and invoices.  Depending on the size and number of jobs your business deals with, the savings could be huge — potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars!
  • Project Tracking. What does CRM have to do with projects?  What we’re talking about here is CRM specifically meant for contractors.  It’s different from CRM for other industries because it is project driven.  We see more and more successful contractors wanting to connect all the dots around a project including contacts, companies and opportunities.  For example, they want to see the architect, engineer, owner, general contractor and all the quotes associated with the project in one place.  This 360-degree view shows the markets, companies and people that produce the most revenue and can help direct where to spend time in the future.   This type of strategic decision making on opportunities and bids can increase revenue significantly.  Good CRM data helps you know where your team spends time finding business, and eliminates the cost of not pursuing the best projects.

There are many other benefits of CRM that might fit your needs — like improving marketing efforts, improving service, or calculating complicated commission payouts to attract a better sales team.

Whatever your revenue goals are, CRM for contractors can help you achieve them.  Finding the right solution to help you achieve those goals are critical.  Contact us, we can help.