Construction Software Topic – Why is a “Round Table Discussion” With Your Staff So Important?

In my over 30 years working Builders and Contractors, one important meeting that needs to take place is what I call “The Round Table” discussion with your staff and managers. I have found these discussions extremely informative for, not only planning process improvement within the organization, but more importantly, an eye opening experience for the managers and “C” level executives.

Here are a couple quick questions to ask yourself when evaluating a round table discussion within your company:

Have you reviewed your processes and procedures within your organization with your staff?
Do you know what your staff job duties are daily weekly and monthly and how they hand off processes to the next staff person?
Do you have a business and technology plan?
When the phone rings, what are the processes to market, sell, build and service the homebuyer/customer?

I have witnessed this round table discussion as a very powerful meeting within a home building company. It allows a builder to flowchart their processes, define the job duties or tasks of everyone within the organization and how each of them communicate with one another to better serve the organization and make the builder a better builder. One suggestion is to take large pieces of paper and put them on the walls around the room. Have each individual department; sales, production, accounting, warranty, etc., put down their duties which they perform as well as suggestions for making their position better. Have them consider the type of verbal and non-verbal communication (e-mails, computer generated tasks, etc.) that would impact their jobs and how, if they were able to have better communication or information, this would reduce the number of hours they spend doing their job and allowing them to pass the information on to the next step in the process.

For example, consider “Auto-Pay”. This is where a purchase order, which is a legal document, informs the trade, sub or supplier how much you are going to pay them for the work to be performed on a house. Now think about the fact if you make this process paperless. You e-mail or post the purchase order document on a web trade portal, the trade, sub or supplier performs the tasks described, the superintendent approves the work or material deliveries via a mobile device, the purchase order is then approved automatically and the data updates the production and accounting systems, all paperless and with little effort on the staff. It just makes sense!

This type of function is available in the technology systems on the market today. They came from meetings just like the round table discussion I mention above. Therefore, as a builder, you are finding ways for your company to operate lean and more efficiently, you make enhancement requests to your technology partners and they develop the software to handle this process for you automatically vs. the number of hours you spend trying to do this manually and with more staff then you really need.

Try the round table discussion for yourself. I truly believe you will be amazed at the number of holes you have in your process that you are just not aware of. Here are some getting started tips:

Schedule this meeting for a half day to start during a day of the week/month that works the best
Purchase the large sticky paper and place around the room and label them by department
Have your staff enter in their job duties and what would make their job easier
Start the discussion with sales and marketing or land development and go through each department till you reach warranty and customer service
Have each person explain their duties and what information they need as well as what information they produce, how they produce it and what they think could improve their job/process
Have someone flowchart each activity
Define the holes in the activities, such as someone having to generate spreadsheets for the next person in the process when this could be replaced with an automated software solution.
Once you have your “hit list”, start working on improving the process
This will also become a shopping list for better technology that adheres to the way you build
Good luck and happy building!