Understanding and feeling comfortable with all the technology tools available today is a daunting task for even the most accomplished IT professional.
Understanding and feeling comfortable with all the technology tools available today is a daunting task for even the most accomplished IT professional. It is no wonder that many home builders feel overwhelmed trying to integrate technology into their day-to-day operations. Selecting, implementing and making effective use of technology tools is difficult when your daily life revolves around delivering homes on time, on budget and within acceptable quality guidelines.
In this new column our aim is to make your job easier. We’ll eliminate the jargon and PR-speak and provide clear information that helps you understand the implications of technology decisions.
I could start with a story of an unsuccessful attempt to get a job cost or purchase order system operational, but instead I will tell you that you are not alone if you’ve failed at it. My experience is that most builders fail at the process three times. In all cases, it takes much longer to implement a system than they first thought, and the end result is often less than stellar.
For inexperienced technology leaders, it is difficult to grasp how hardware, software, the Internet, skills training and systems connectivity come together. I will say that when technology and good process flow, running your company can be astoundingly easy. The other side of the coin is that when you attempt to integrate technology with poor processes, your business can be severely crippled or even fail.
So how do you go from reacting to technology to proactively making it a part of your management strategy? As builders you understand the importance of stable soils, solid footings and excellent framing when constructing a house; technology innovation is no different.
As in most cases, the fundamentals of good leadership apply -- you must visualize the end result. My clients want to increase gross margins, net margins and revenue per employee. Most builders I know have very busy days -- not always as effective as they would like -- but no doubt full working days. To change this scenario, companies must strive to improve their systems and increase daily use of technology that is readily available.
Outlined below are some of the critical elements of the technology innovation process. Depending on the size of your company, these tasks will be delegated according to the skills in house. Your team should consist of the natural technology leaders in your firm, outside professionals to supplement your team’s weaknesses and your senior managers.
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About the Author: Noelle Tarabulski founded and runs Builder Software Tools Inc., a technology and operations consulting firm specializing in home building. She began her professional career with Toll Bros. as a field operations manager. In addition to BST, she also runs Tara Builders, a home builder in suburban Philadelphia.