Discovering your Business Processes takes some time, not including more time implementing those processes with your existing or new software applications, and most importantly – Training Staff.
I believe one of the more difficult processes, Change Orders, the one regarding how you handle Changes that are always happening throughout the life of a Project. Over the years of working with various Clients reviewing their processes including the integration of various software applications the first thing is to determine the Process without any regards to software. The key here is to determine how things should work including the steps to make sure this process becomes successful and profitable without being boxed in by the software – some software applications do not have a define Change Order Process. If you define your process first it will help determine which software applications best fit your requirements.
So let’s get started, first off organize a Team to do the discovery, be part of the discussion, work on the documentation of the process, and finally decide what software would best work within this newly defined process. The makeup is important for a successful implementation. Some companies hire outside consultants to do the complete work, but this comes down to an issue of looking at the companies process from one perspective and getting the Companies Team BUY-IN once this has been completed – which comes down to none acceptance. The best Team is comprised of people who utilize this process every day providing their insight into how to improve their job and moderator managing the discovering process.
One of my most recent adventures was just doing this rediscovering. First off we organized a Team having expertise in the various Departments – Sales, Project Management, Procurement, System Engineer, and Operations. They provide a great detail look into their day-to-day operations regarding how changes should occur.
More information gathered…they are currently utilizing D-Tools SI 4 planning on upgrading to SI 5. They still plan on utilizing SI 5 for the Design and Estimations process. They also utilized Excel for the Ordering of Items – generated from a Report out of SI 4. They had Software for Procurement Management, one for Managing Technicians, and still another for Staff to post their Time – all having their own unique issues.
Things we first identified…too many E-Mails going around, Items not getting ordered correctly based on changes, things falling through the cracks, Changes not truly being managed, and Multiple Change Request currently.
Revision vs. Change Order Request Management
Before we proceeded we needed to clarify the differences between Revision Management and Change Order Request Management Systems. Understanding these differences, help determine the correct system process.
A Revision Management System allows a Project to exist in several versions utilized to allow access to those older files for reference or comparison. Microsoft Word provides a Revision Management System, so does QuickBooks, and D-Tools. With D-Tools a User needs to run various comparisons on these revision files to provide data to run a Change Order Report. As you mostly compare the Active to a previous version you may not retrieve the same information in the future.
A Change Order Request Management System allows a Project to have several Change Order Requests concurrently which have no effect on the Project until Approved. These Change Order Requests contain the Added, Removed and/or Modified Items. This allows for quick access to this information anytime in the future.
What happens when…?
Before the discussion of this process we did a mental purging of all the current issues starting fresh with “What happens when…?”
…a Client requests a change in a product?
…a Part no longer exists or cannot get it for the project?
…a Design change has been identified due to structural changes on the project by another contractor?
I know there is a lot more “What happens when…?” possibilities, just noted a few for this discussion.
Let’s take the first one – What happens when a Client requests a change in a Product? – may be they heard about a new product, seen an advertisement, or any of a thousand reasons. This request may have come in a form of an E-Mail, Phone Call or Meeting. Next, what do you do with this information – have a Team Meeting, forward the E-Mail, Note this information in some Customer Relationship Management system – all valid steps which one provides the best communication?
Currently they sent around E-Mails and/or Phone Calls to determine who will manage these modifications. The only way the Team knows who is doing what is by having a Meeting. Does this sound familiar?
Now that the Team is notified, next the System Engineer needs to determine if there are any ramifications required based on these new modifications. The Project and Procurement Managers review for any Items which have been requested to be modified in a current Purchasing Requests – confirming that there is no other need to stop the previous orders. Once the Team has approved these modifications they generate a Change Order Request documents for presentation to the Client.
Until this Change Order Request has been approved none of the requested modifications will be accomplished and the “As-Built/Designed” documents updated. After obtaining the Client’s approval, the next step is to update the “As-Built/Design” documents allowing for the work to be scheduled and the products to be ordered.
This Change Order Request Process has now been defined and the Team begins the clarification of the integration between the various software applications.
The Team still will be utilizing D-Tools SI 5 for the engineering and design but when it comes to the Change Order Request Management they have determined to utilize another application – ePonti. The key reason is how SI5 handles changes, it utilizes a Revision Management System which does not allow for multiple Change Order Requests concurrently – this is a BIG Concern which was identified in the Process.
The Multiple Concurrent Change Requests is the process of having multiple Change Orders open providing Options for the Client or where there is another Change Request being accepted while another one is out waiting for the Client approval. With a Revision Management System this is not possible.
They tried utilizing SI4 for this but failed due to creating copies of projects renaming them to reflecting the Changes, but if those are not accepted by the Client then what…they have to locate the old file and begin again. Same in SI5 when you make any change it affects the “As Built/Design” documents. Remember a Revision Management System is the Final Project Documents – no room for mistakes.
Another concern for the Team was the way the Procurement process was being handled. Before they exported a report to Excel updating the order information, since it is Excel there is only 1 accurate document which needs to be sent around to the Team – multiple copies – multiple errors. They are switching to ePonti to handle this part of the process too. Here the Project Manager only needs to select the Items to be ordered then by selecting the Purchase Order Request button it runs and now there is one or multiple Orders placed, correctly grouped by Vendor, including notification to the Team about these requests.
The last software to be considered is Master Builder – providing a faster, easier, and accurate linking process for the Accounting Team. This connection allows the transferring of information between ePonti and Master Builder for Purchasing, Budgets, and Employees Time.
Change Order Request Process in Action
Here is the Change Order Request Process as identified by the Team with the integration of ePonti, SI5 and Master Builder.
At a point when a Change Request has been identified there is a posting of a Case in ePonti, this provides notification to the Team and a place to keep updated information for successful completion of the Requested Changes. Cases can be generated by anyone in the Team – Technician at the Job Site via their Mobile Device, Customer Service Personal, Project Manager, etc…
At first the Case is assigned to the System Engineer for preliminary review confirming the requested modifications have no other effect on the design and implementation of the Project. Next, if approved, they review with the Project Team and create an ePonti Change Order Request. Now the Case Status is Updated and/or Assigned to another Member of the Team – notifying the Team of the process.
The Change Order Request displays the Items that have been requested to be Removed, Added, or Modified.
Note – nothing has been changed on the “As Built/Design” documents as of yet. This provides the ability for multiple Change Order Requests on the same project without any interruptions.
Now that all the requested modifications are noted in the Change Request the required documents utilized to obtain the Client’s approval are generated. At this point the original Case and Change Request are updated.
The Project Manager is now requested to present these documents to the Client and receive approval.
Once the go ahead has been received the Project Manager “Approves” the Change Request, and updates the Case. Next, they create Two New Cases – One for the System Engineer requesting they update the “As Built/Design” documents and the other notify Accounting Team to update the Client’s Budget in Master Builder.
The System Engineer creates a Revision in SI5 then back in ePonti they synchronize the Project updating both applications. This posts all the approved modifications from the Change Request into the “As Built/Design” document in SI5 and updates the Project Tasks in ePonti. Finally the System Engineer updates the Case.
The Accounting Team runs their respected reports to validate the modifications then updates the Project Budget in Master Builder. Next they update the Case.
Now the Project Manager reviews the modified work, adjusts the Project Schedule, and updates Purchasing as needed.
Next, the Procurement Manager updates the product orders reflecting these approved changes. This may require a Transfer of Product from one project to another, Cancelation of a PO, or create a New Purchase Order.
This process successfully provides a Change Order Request Management system with multiple software applications improving their Business Process.
About designecentral, inc.
Delivering Business Solutions anytime and from anywhere for the construction service industry, this concept, is inherently about creating new choices, about divergence, providing new alternatives and solutions. We are motivated to automate recurring business processes, assisting their day-to-day operations providing easy to learn, easy to use business solutions, hosted on secure servers, very affordable, time-efficient, and accessible anytime and from anywhere by your Business Team.
After years of developing a Box Software product and understanding the way people were looking at software for their company we decided to handle their needs. We designed, integrated, and implemented Business Solutions which are delivered or access via the internet providing the ability to utilize the solution anytime and from anywhere without the lengthy installation process found in other traditional software.
This process, delivering software via the internet, is gaining popularity over the years partly due to speed of access and the general acceptance of the reducing their IT Overhead (improving their Green footprint). As companies look at ways of improving their Business Process they look towards software which could assist. A few issues arise with traditional software, the incompatibility for easily communicating with other business software and the accessibility of business data for your Business Team. These are why we provide flexibility in integrating these Business Software and collaboration.
Taking a look back from our beginning, we believe we are on track providing the vision or Delivering Business Solutions via the Internet allowing the Users accessibility anytime and from anywhere to their Business Processes – improving their Business.