Beyond the Build

Customer Relationships

Now Is the Time to Prepare for Future Business: Use Recession Downtime to Streamline Practices

When business is good, it’s far too easy for leaders to get busy, ignore their company’s weaknesses and forget to brainstorm ways to improve. It’s an easier focus now since business is down and we all have a little more time. As a company, we are using the lull to evaluate and reevaluate every aspect of our infrastructure, ensuring that we have the best and most current tools in our “tool drawer.” It’s my belief that our efforts now will give us competitive advantage when this cycle ends.

In the spirit of getting ahead, we’ve been working with Los Angeles-based consulting firm WP2DC to develop a systematic approach for sharing information within our organization. Before we commissioned their services, our knowledge sat in too many places, which stirred up confusion and often resulted in team members recreating the wheel, so to speak.

The industry term for that fragmentation is an information silo – a management system that operates independently, incapable of reciprocal operation with other, related management systems. The goal is to have cloud computing – a pool of shared resources that can be accessed on demand on the Internet.

This concept is logical to me. Why not make use of the networking capabilities that are available now? We’ve been pleased with WP2DC’s work for us and are launching the first phase of our “cloud” this month. Here are the benefits I’ve seen so far:

  • Having one complete database ensures that everyone has the same information and none of it is lost.
  • We can track our projects and see the progress as they move from concept to reality.
  • All employees have the ability to stay current with our customer relationships.
  • We can share information with contacts outside the company if we’d like.

WP2DC has already begun developing an additional cloud where we will manage our subcontractor and vendor data. This has always been a challenge since we build across the Southeast and mid-Atlantic states, creating a huge chunk of contacts. The system will make our knowledge more efficient by tracking current subcontractors/vendor capacity in almost real time. We will also be able to locate and evaluate new talent, so that we can provide the best product for our customer relationships.

What are you doing with your extra time? Can you make way for clouds in your office? It might just prepare your for the next big storm of new business.

For more information, see this Wall Street Journal article on cloud computing.

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and President of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.