Companies that specialize in landscape construction or are attempting to grow that area of their businesses often quickly realize that their homemade organizational systems aren’t cutting it. Spreadsheets, whiteboards, and manila folders only go so far; these manual methods don’t provide visibility across the company nor do they provide the flexibility needed to complete complicated jobs on time and on budget.
What these contractors need for construction jobs is landscape business management software like Aspire, especially when it comes to project management.
Project Status Reporting
Ideally, that software would include accurate project status reporting via project dashboards. The goal is to monitor the status of any project on one screen from start to finish so you can catch problems and pivot if needed.
“It’s about cost savings,” says Peggy Hughes, accounting specialist with Aspire Software. “If you know where you’re at with your project, you can plan for shortcomings on your estimate.”
Those shortcomings might include miscalculations in labor or materials. It’s important to know about those as soon as possible so you can evaluate your options. Your options may include moving costs from other line items or getting a change order for the additional costs.
A real-time, fully integrated system designed for landscape construction is far superior to the “old way,” Hughes says, where the contractor’s owners or managers had to work with the accounting staff daily to ensure their costs were hitting the correct jobs. Or they had to wait until payroll happened or vendors’ invoices arrived before knowing where a project’s costs came in.
“In Aspire, you’re seeing real-time costs hitting the job, so you know on a daily basis if you’re still in line with your expectations when you bid it,” she says. “The minute you receive the materials, the costs are applied to the job. The minute a guy steps on a job site and logs in with a mobile device, the costs are applied to the job. You’re not having to wait until the end of the project or week or month to find out how you’re doing.”
Gantt charts are another important component of construction project management. They serve as a visual reminder of deadlines and project phases, keeping the landscape company on the same page as its subcontractors and clients. With Aspire business management software, contractors can easily set project milestones, create Gantt charts, and see those at a glance on their project dashboards.
Estimating and General Conditions
In addition to features that provide visibility, landscape construction companies need flexibility in their business management software, according to Travis Wills, a customer success manager with Aspire.
To that end, Aspire recently added the ability to add General Conditions to estimates, eliminating the need for spreadsheets to track these costs, which may include things like dumpsters or port-a-potties. Aspire also now offers contractors the ability to import files from takeoff software like OnCenter.
“We’ve provided an import function to streamline that process for pricing the work,” Wills says.
Change Orders and Earned Revenue
Landscape construction companies also need flexibility to account for change orders, whether those are scope changes or time and materials additions.
One nice thing about change orders in Aspire, Hughes says, is you aren’t required to include the change order number on the order itself. This feature is beneficial if the contractor is documenting an “internal” change order that’s perhaps moving costs around on the job versus one that’s going to be seen and approved by the client.
Finally, contractors benefit from having control over how they earn revenue on the project. In Aspire, for example, the revenue is earned on a percent-complete basis as well as when a work ticket is completed, but contractors can edit their earned revenue if, for example, they know they’re going to have additional costs arise later in the project.
For more information on increasing efficiency your landscape construction division, please read "How landscape business management software helps with construction project administration."