Sandy River Construction Services

Construction tips and news from Sandy River Construction Services

Top Ten Mistakes when Selecting Software

Rob Bruce - Thursday, May 09, 2013

A lot of folks ask for my help when they are selecting software. I have been doing this for over 13 years now and hopefully have gotten quite good at it. Here is my list for the top ten mistakes people make when selecting software..hope it helps....

Top Ten Mistakes

10) inexperienced person researching software and getting demos, don’t know what they are looking at or for

9) Not understanding industry standards. A company has their own cost codes and file systems that aren’t true to industry standards. Most software forces you to follow certain standards, this leads to confusion and frusteration

8) Lack of Training, many times companies think they are saving money by asking their employees to “figure it” out. Buying pre packaged training is less expensive in the long run

7) Not getting buy in from entire company or at least a team. Project management wants one thing, estimating and accounting another

6) Not planning the implementation properly. This lead to “we will get around to finishing it one day” attitude and the project falls off the radar and a ton on time, money and energy just got wasted.

5) Not understanding true cost of ownership of software, budgets get blown and nothing gets completed

4) Buying on a whim due to a sudden and one time pain point. Do your research, think it through. Impulse software buys are rarely a good thing.

3) Follow thru on implementation. A big job comes in the door, Aunt Sallys puppy has a litter of kittens, the list is endless for things that derail a perfectly well planned implementation. Stick to your plan.

2) Underestimating the cost of customizing the software to your needs. Templates needs to be built, data sorted, reformatted and imported. This all takes time and money.

1) Not fully understanding what your needs are. This leads to over buying or under buying. If a software sales person sees you are unclear on what you need they will oversell you.



A Good Management Style

Rob Bruce - Monday, September 10, 2012

Here's a management piece that’s critical to take note of. When you are managing people especially in construction be sure to take the management style of being a coach and not take the mentality that everybody should just know how to get things done your way, especially on particular jobs. I guarantee you that on a particular task on a construction site there are ten ways to get it done and for the most part all of of them are correct. And you have a right as an owner or manager to get it done your way.

However don’t assume people know what your way is. Take the time to convey the info you have in your head to the employees, how you want it done and more importantly why you need it done that way. Your workers are focused on their tasks and aren’t always privy to the higher picture information. Take the time to discuss with them, let them ask questions and offer suggestions. Remember…they want to do a good job, they are doing the best they can. Give them the information they need. We have a saying for this….

You can't give somebody 30% of the information and expect them to do a 100% of the job.

Letting outside in

Rob Bruce - Friday, August 24, 2012

Looking outside and letting it in….This is always a difficult item to address and even harder one to let in. I cant even begin to tell you how any companies ask us to come and talk to them as they want a little help in growing or managing their business. We come in take a look around and make some recommendations. Usually it’s not real complicated or high level  advice and we line it out in pretty good detail. Then a few weeks later when we check back in absolutely none of the items or procedures have been implemented…none. And they paid us!! Was it bad advice? No, because every one of our long term clients have grown exponentially.

So, when I look at why this happens I realize it’s simply a human trait. We do what we are comfortable doing. We don’t like change even if it’s for our own good. We fear the new path, the unknown. So we stay right where we are at.

Take a moment, even this moment, to take stock of sound advice you have passed up or set aside. Make a list, write it down during lunch today, not tomorrow. What good solid sound piece of advice can you implement right now…..? Start small and create a new daily habit. We as humans think we have to personally have the answers. We don’t have to. The whole secret to understanding advice is to understand and acknowledge that it is simply a case of “temporarily remembering what someone else temporarily forgot.” We all do the best we can everyday, whether it was a good day or bad day it was the best we could do at that time and moment. So listen for that sound advice and don’t let it pass you by. If you must, write it down and file it away for future reference. Use your ten brains around you instead of the solitary one between your ears. Learn to do this and you will go far.

Want to change the game to be in your favor?

Rob Bruce - Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Why Corecon?…Because it changes the game in your favor.

This software company is like no other you have come across before. Very customer oriented, doesn’t ding you with a million fees. Just produces a great product that firmly plants your business practices in place so you can focus on making money.  Corecon is a cloud product that eliminates the need for servers and internal IT expenses and there are no update fees…ever!!!

Corecon helps you manage your company from leads to estimating to job costing and project management, scheduling etc. OK, you say well shoot, there are a million of those out there and we say you are absolutely correct. However, how many of them are truly cloud based with no synch requirements. How many software systems come with almost every report you need built in at no additional cost. How many offer free training? How many let field users access the system from a smart phone at a cost of just a few dollars ($5) a month. Corecon lets its users grant access for free to outside Team Members, Owners Subs, Vendors etc., all customizable and highly secure. Also, Corecon can be set up and implemented at a fraction of the cost of other comparable systems.

Your process is what makes you money, not your business that’s why some companies survive and some don’t; others just have better processes in place. Corecon builds you a solid reliable and proven business process. Corecon keeps your overhead down thereby increasing profits. We can show you more at 503-668-7277

"If we do not plant knowledge when young, it will give us no shade when we are old." - Lord Chesterfield

Dale Carnegie Write the Original RFI?

Rob Bruce - Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"Ideas are funny little things. They don't work unless you do." –Anonymous


Are you a Worrier? Me too! Or Did Dale Carnegie Write the Original RFI?

Written by Annie Kendrick, Kendrick Business Services

Leave it to Dale Carnegie, the author of “How to Win Friends and Influence People,” to give sound advice in another one of his books “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.” If you have read any of his books, then you already know that for the most part, his advice is timeless. The latter book was published in 1944, during World War II and at the tail end of the Great Depression, which means he must have been considering the struggles that most people were going through at the time. I read this book while I was on vacation recently because I am one of those people that worry if I don’t have enough business and then I worry if I have too much! I am not sure if I will ever worry less because I think a big part of it is genetic and I have the “worry gene.” But I did get something out of this book that I think can help all of us in many business situations, especially construction.  Do you have employees, co-workers, sub-contractors, project managers and GC’s running to you with every little problem and the Chicken Little “sky is falling” syndrome? Does this cause chaos and headaches in the workplace and on job sites costing you extra time and money getting these issues resolved?  Do you find yourself doing this as well sometimes? Then follow Dale’s suggestion and have you and your team answer these 4 simple questions before making a commotion.

(1) What is the problem?

(2) What is the cause of the problem?

(3) What are all the solutions to the problem?

(4) What solution do you suggest?

This is significant because it starts the discussion with solutions that have been given consideration instead of problems that may have been blown out of proportion and “having tempers flare as people yell out solutions that haven’t been given proper consideration.”  As Dale concludes, when his associates were asked to write down the answers to these four questions before coming to him, they rarely came to him anymore because they had to “get the facts and think the problems through” and once this was done, “the proper solution has popped like a piece of bread popping out from an electric toaster” (they had toasters back then?) because it “proceeds along an orderly, logical path to a reasoned conclusion.” 

My conclusion is that I think Dale Carnegie invented the RFI and that using the RFI model in all aspects of our business, not just on the job site, is good advice. Except for he needed to add one more question. (5) How much is it going to cost?

“WORRYING does not take away tomorrow's TROUBLES, it takes away today's PEACE.”  Auth unknown

The power of a Change Order…It’s a double edged sword.

Rob Bruce - Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The power of a Change Order…It’s a double edged sword.

I am over simplifying this a bit so it’s a shorter read but you will see my point…So the slab is poured, forms stripped and layout is ready to begin, then comes the call from the field, the layout point as referenced on the drwgs are not working out and they spent half a day trying to figure it out. Standard operating procedure, fire off an RFI to the Owners rep asking for clarification and direction, three days later (the contract call for 5 days response time) a response comes in, you cc’d all parties and get it out to the field asap. A half a day later the field calls again and says this response does not work; again 3 workers have spent a half a day re-working on layout. Again, standard operating procedure, send out another RFI and this time include a request for change order due to extra hours spent on trying to resolve this issue. And again 3 days later a response comes back from the owners Rep and this time it actually works!! Glory be!! And the best news is without so much of a hint of a fight they approve your change order for a total of 18 hours of additional labor and even pay it on the next progress billing. Life is good right? OK, let’s fast forward to when the project is 80% complete, you just did a schedule update and its showing you are a little over one week late on hitting your completion date. The owner asks why? You dig back thru paperwork and tell them well, remember the layout issue? We waited a total of 6 days for a response, it took us two days to regroup and move forward….. so see…. its simple why we are behind.

Owner says …oh no no no…, we responded in a reasonable time, we paid your requested change order and nowhere in the RFI or the CO did it state it was going to put you behind schedule a week. We just assumed you were accelerating and this covered your costs. We will be charging you the $500.00 per day in LD’s if you do not finish in time. So…quite honestly your hosed!!! It’s going to cost you more than the let’s say the $4,000 in LD’s to fight it. But hey you got a CO for $810.00 dollars….yippee kay ya!!

So a change order is a double edged sword, you need to look down the road and “forecast” these types of issues. Had this type of forecasting been done, a comment on the RFI and Change Order would have been made notifying the owner that potential delays to the overall schedule may occur. A new task would have been placed in the schedule that was attached to the framing completion date. Some people would call this playing the “paperwork game” and say it’s not politically correct any more. What’s not politically correct EVER is losing $3,190 on a legitimate issue.

You can help by putting systems in place. Make a company procedure of checks for RFI and Changes Orders that get followed every time. Many software packages for Construction help you do this. Provide a company training where you show numbers of dollars actually lost and how to properly document issues. Explain to the owners Rep what you are doing and why, this will alleviate any hard feelings up front in case they think you are just papering the walls on them. Like SRCS has said many times, do the work up front, it’s much easier and less expensive than cleaning up on the back end. Call us we can help, 503-668-7277.


Rob Bruce - Friday, October 28, 2011


Not exactly my area of expertise but recently I have made some what I believe are worthy observation. No matter where you turn you hear about how disgruntled people are. Mad about taxes, the economy, politicians in general, this is wrong and not fair, on and on it goes, where it stops……

I had an interesting experience a few weeks back that led to even more interesting observation. I was invited to testify at a Senate Hearing on a bill labeled SD-667 (I’m glad it wasn’t the bill right before this one…lol,) anyway, this bill has to do with making some changes to how the Gov’t enters into contracts with A&E firms.  It offers some protection to business when entering into IDIQ contracts. But enough of that, that’s not my point.

Before and after my testimony I had plenty of time to roam the Capitol and meet people and had some very interesting conversations. That session of the Senate was the time for people (citizens) to speak to Representatives and Senators and have your voice heard. As I roamed the halls and stopped and chatted with folks it dawned on me that everybody was either a lawyer or a lobbyist. There were next to no everyday Joe Blow citizens there.  I asked a few Senators and Representative if this was normal and they said yes…they almost never hear from the everday regular folk. And, they sincerely expressed they would love to. Maybe I’m gullible, but I believed them. Next time you dislike something or have a better idea on how to do something that Gov’t is involved in give your Senators and Representatives a call, they really do want to hear from you. Just present a clear well thought out idea/concern and they will gladly tell you how to proceed and get results. It may not happen as fast as you would like it to but get some folks behind you stick with it and it will happen. I think we all forgot it's our job to run the Gov't....I know I did.

Interesting Trends

Rob Bruce - Wednesday, September 14, 2011

In the travels of SRCS we come across a lot of interesting “trends.” What I mean is we see a lot of common threads of construction companies. One of these we have seen a lot of lately is a general lack of true project management. We have seen companies that rely on email solely to track RFI’s and change orders.  Construction schedules that simply don’t exist, except inside of someone’s head, no forms or templates to use for correspondence, no logs for tracking, no Construction  Management Software.

When we talk with these companies the response we get is also a common thread…”its just too time consuming and expensive to implement, we track it close enough.” Close enough…? I don’t think so. Let’s play with some numbers. I will keep them simple and conservative.

$100k job:  10% Profit = $10,000

  • 2 RFI’s not properly tracked  = 10 lost man hours @ $30.00 per hour = $300.00
  • 2 change orders negotiated down due to lack of documentation. Should have totaled $5,000, received $3,000
  • Productivity labor overage due to no labor budget reports $3,500
  • Equipment rental overage due to lack of schedule = $500.00

Total dollars lost on just one project. $6,300.00. Need we say more

Not having full and correct project management simply costs you money. To fully implement a system whether it be a Construction Management Software package or one based on excel and word shouldn’t cost you more than the $6,300 lost above. In addition a good system is going to help you increase profits by holding to budgets and compiling historical data which helps you improve processes. Instead of going down $6k you really should be going up by 2%-3%.

Sandy River can help you get a solid system in place. We implement excel and word systems for starting out and we help you implement Corecon Construction Management Software which is a subscription based system (SAAS.)

Less than one percent

Rob Bruce - Monday, June 06, 2011

SRCS Helps you grow. Let me ask you a simple question. If you could obtain $15,000,000 in construction contracts and pay less than 1% would you do it? Oh course you would. Well,  that’s exactly what  clients of SRCS  have done. How do we do it? There’s no one answer for that. Sometimes it’s helping a client find their sweet spot in scopes of work, maybe it’s a new market or more exacting bidding and helping them get tighter numbers. We have clients that we have helped lower their overhead therefore bid lower. We have software tools most companies do not. Agtek, Corecon, Heavy Bid etc. All these help us serve you better and get you more contracts.  Once you get those contracts we can help you run a smooth profitable job by refining and streamlining your project management procedures. Less than 1%...think about it.

Value of Networking

Rob Bruce - Saturday, April 09, 2011

I hear all the time from people who tell me they know networking is important and works but it’s just too time consuming. They say I don’t have time for all those meetings, they say I’ve tried that and nothing really comes from. Well, if either of those statements is true for you then you are going about it all wrong.

Networking is more than just showing up at an event or joining an organization. You have to find how it works best for you. Rule one is always give something away at least three times before asking for something. Stop for a moment and think of somebody that could use some help, advice or a hand with a project. Maybe it’s a startup company in your field, maybe it’s an organization that could use help in organizing an event, think, get out of the box and think. Now go help however you can. After a while people will see you are real, they know you can be trusted. YOU come to mind when they are working on a project and need to bring somebody in.

Here’s a real life story that just occurred. I was on the phone with a client, just a generic phone call. They mentioned they couldn’t get bonded for a large project and may lose it. I gave them a number to call and said to use my name. They ended up getting new bonding with a higher capacity, found out they were paying way higher insurance rates than they should have. Then came a phone call about them needing help on a LEED Certified project. We told them we had a contact there also, they called them hired that firm to help, called us back to say thanks, they found out more about our services and hired us to help them on some international Const projects. All this took place because we took time to network about 6 months ago. Now tell me you don’t have time.