Digital Dry Shack Blog

/Digital Dry Shack Blog

DD# 83: Publishing a Project Web Site

If you are limited on your IT budget for P6 licenses and still want to allow stakeholders to view project data you can use the non-licensing publishing feature in Primavera P6. You can select designated project information from Activity Layouts, Reports from the reports library, and Tracking Layouts to be published a share drive where you can allow access to designated stakeholders. This is also an easy way to disseminate information to owners and subcontractors. Before setting up the website it is a good idea to develop global Layouts and reports that have been configured to be viewed in a web browser. To do this go to the print preview of the layout or report and view it in HTML format. When satisfied with the setup of the report save it as a global layout or report with a name that associates it to the publishing of a website. This standardization method will allow all projects to use the same standardized layouts and reports when publishing to a project website. Note: When publishing a Project Web Site the files created are for the currently open project in P6. If you desire to publish multiple projects to the same website make [...]

2017-01-14T08:23:27+00:00 By |Digital Dry Shack Blog|

DD# 82: Cost Coding to Project Bid Items

Discussing job cost coding with some of our self-performing contractor clients, we sometimes hear that they often use the Owner’s Project Bid Items as a simple and useful structure for cost coding their work on the project. It seems logical enough: the Owner gives Contractors Pay Items for invoicing the work on the project, so why not use the same system to track internal costs? One-stop shopping with just one set of data to keep track of is better, right? Wrong! Keep in mind I’m referring to contractors who self-perform a substantial amount of their own work, not construction managers who sub everything out. The value of job cost coding, with consistent, standardized cost codes, over the course of years, cannot be overstated. The resulting labor productivity information is valuable intellectual property that supports accurate estimating, to a degree that’s impossible to achieve any other way. I remember going into a construction office in Montana, and asking how they tracked their labor. Kevin reached for an ancient-looking leather-bound ledger book that looked a hundred years old. (It turned about to be 60.) Page one contained carefully handwritten information on concrete forming, from 1958. Manhours and output, neatly-written with a fountain [...]

2017-01-14T08:23:27+00:00 By |Digital Dry Shack Blog|

DD# 81: “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread”

This old quote has come to my mind a few times over the course of Q1, while we worked to get our new accounting system, Jonas Premier, firing on all cylinders. There has been a vigorous, if not steep, learning curve on Jonas Premier, combined with some kinks in the software that has made the period since we began using JP on 10/1/14 stressful, to put it politely.  Some of the things we learned in the transition are fairly obvious, but it may be worth listing a few, in case you are contemplating a similar transition. Lessons learned: User support is one of the most important features to consider when choosing software. Online written documentation trumps training videos and free "live" support, in my experience.  (Best case is hiring a qualified independent consultant, of course.) Clean up the old books before you port to a new system.  This is just the same as moving house, where everyone knows that it would be much easier to make the move if you threw out all your junk and pared down belongings BEFORE packing the boxes, but I at least never seem to accomplish that. It's easiest to change accounting systems at the [...]

2015-05-06T11:32:33+00:00 By |Digital Dry Shack Blog|

DD# 80: P6 Deep Dive: Underutilized Feature in P6

Work Products and Documents Work Products and Documents is an extremely useful and highly underutilized feature in Primavera P6. The work products and documents functionality provides a detailed list of references associated with the project. These documents are divided into two distinct areas, work products, and documents. A work product is a result of action associated with the deliverable of an activity. A document is any reference associated with an activity such as a drawing, test plan, change order, or user manual. To start using the Work Product and Documents functionality set up the global settings for Document Categories and Document Status under “Admin” on the main menu. Under the WPs & Docs directory,  you can add the Document title and in the Document details section enter relevant details about the document. NOTE: This is NOT a document management system. This is a means or method to keeping track of project documents and actually linking them to specific WBS elements or activities. This feature can be set up to work with document management programs including Share Point as one example. WPs & Docs Details Section General Tab- As shown above you can enter or select from lists specific details relating to [...]

2017-01-14T08:23:27+00:00 By |Digital Dry Shack Blog|

DD# 79: Top 5 Internet Marketing Challenges in the Construction Industry

A study conducted by Profile By Design revealed the top 5 internet marketing challenges construction companies face are: Poor or No Strategy Dated Website Social Media Wallflower Failure to Differentiate Inconsistent Branding Strategy Developing a marketing strategy is vital for any business. Having a poor strategy or no strategy at all can keep your business from growing.  A marketing strategy will help you define your business goals and develop the proper steps to achieve them. Here are a few tips to help you create a strong marketing strategy: Decide who your target market is Define your business, products and services Decide what your marketing methods will be. Advertise? Direct marketing? Online Presence? Review your marketing strategy at least once every quarter Online Presence According to Google, 97% of consumers use the web to search for local businesses – and if the vast majority of your potential customers are online, you should be, too. Having a strong online presence is a crucial component of your marketing strategy, no matter what size your business is or what industry it belongs to. Your online presence is everything and is one of the main ways to develop a strong loyal client base. In order to execute this [...]

2017-01-14T08:23:27+00:00 By |Digital Dry Shack Blog|

DD# 78: Slow Down to Speed Up

Mise-en-place, or, Slow Down to Speed Up What do construction, software development, and cooking have in common? To the casual observer: very little. Yet, all three disciplines stand to reap great gains when everything’s in its right place: whether it’s in your estimating database, test-driven development, or the kitchen. No, this isn’t a post about that excellent Radiohead song; rather, it’s regarding the wide-ranging benefits of mise-en-place. What is Mise-en-place? Mise-en-place is an expression, borrowed from the French culinary tradition, which translates as ‘put in place.’ The phrase hearkens back to the era of Georges-Auguste Escoffier, the patriarch of the French ‘brigade system’ of kitchen hierarchy, and hailed as the “Henry Ford of the kitchen” (Daley). In this context, mise-en-place is the work that precedes a particularly busy period (read: lunch/dinner rush) for chefs: gathering and preparing ingredients, arranging tools, and the like. When employed properly, this means a single chef won’t have to move more than a few inches to reach all of the implements and ingredients she’ll need for a dish; some chefs-in-training are even tasked with cooking blindfolded (Charnas). The Philosophy In the Kitchen This philosophy extends far beyond the kitchen, you can apply to your home [...]

2017-01-14T08:23:27+00:00 By |Digital Dry Shack Blog|

DD# 77: What’s up with the internet this week?

Moz Top 10 What's up with the Internet this week? From the looming death of Internet Explorer to the Yoast security scare and now Google might be launching a new penalty? We have what you need to break through the noise and do the marketing that matters. How Much Traffic Will You Lose from the Upcoming Mobile SEO-Pocalypse? Bryson Meunier answers the question we've all been asking as Google's April 21 deadline looms... 10 SEO Myths that Friggin' Tick Me Off That mobile deadline may be no myth, but that doesn't mean you can believe everything you hear about the Internet. Cyrus Shepard debunks some lingering (and even harmful) SEO myths. How to Measure the User Journey with Content Groupings, WordPress & GTM Get the stats you need to understand your customer's mindset and where you should be focusing your content efforts. Mike King explains. Can a Google Answer Box Drive Significant Site Traffic? While we're looking at things in a fresh light, Mark Traphagen investigates whether Google swiping your info for Answer Boxes might actually be a good thing. Embracing a Slow User Experience What happens when you strip away the expectation that your visitor convert! convert! convert!? David [...]

2017-01-14T08:23:28+00:00 By |Digital Dry Shack Blog|

DD# 76: The Best Way to Motivate Employees

I have spent 30 years studying management techniques in a variety of industries from dude ranching to factory work to elementary education to software development to the fitness industry. Most of the time I was the employee being managed, sometimes I was the manager. When I was hired to be the bookkeeper at Cassell Consulting last July, I didn’t bring a lot of construction industry experience to the position, but I did bring expertise in employee management. It is always pleasant when employers seek to motivate employees with rewards – money always fits & promotions and bonuses make any day a little nicer. But those things recognize good work after the fact, they aren’t what primarily motivates most employees. What motivates employees to go above and beyond is when employers expect us to act in the best interests of the company on our own, not for reward and not because it’s our job, but just because that’s what people do. It’s how every business owner works – always trying to make their company a success – why not trust that your employees have the same internal motivation? It’s a cliché for a company to say that their best asset is [...]

2015-04-20T11:03:47+00:00 By |Digital Dry Shack Blog|

DD# 75: P6 Deep Dive: P6 Baseline Best Practices

The purpose of this article is to explain and demonstrate proper use of the Baselining tool to maintain a Master Schedule from the beginning of the project to the end. In P6 Enterprise, we can now create our master schedule and use that same schedule from the beginning to the end of the project. This method will keep our EPS clean and uncluttered. The only time we should make copy of our current project schedule is to do a what-if analysis and the best method to accomplish this is using the reflection tool so that an update to the master schedule from the what-if analysis can be accomplished easily and quickly. I’ll write more on this in a future article. 4 Reasons why Baselines are better than Schedule Copies You can maintain an unlimited number of baselines for a project. The baseline does not appear in the EPS. When you copy and paste a project in the EPS you are only making a copy of the current project, none of the baselines are copied during the copy process unless you designate them to be copied. Therefore when you make a copy of the current project and paste it in the [...]

2017-01-14T08:23:28+00:00 By |Digital Dry Shack Blog|

DD# 74: Notes from the Floor, World of Concrete 2015

A first-rate trade show such as World of Concrete in Las Vegas is one of the better investments we think a company can make. It's an excellent opportunity to plug in to the latest and greatest tools, equipment, and technology that shape our industry. This year marks the 4th year of continued growth in attendance, coinciding with the continuing economic recovery in construction. I spent most of my time in the technology section, (no surprise), in the Central Hall of the Convention Center. I was primarily interested in what our partners were doing, as well in checking out the show as a whole. It's a daunting task to take in an exhibition of this size. Over a thousand vendors are displaying their best products, a dizzying array of attractions simultaneously competing for your attention. I attended only 2 days of the 4 day show this year, a shorter commando campaign compared to the full meal deal of past years. Back then I stayed the entire duration, affording the opportunity to take advantage of some of the excellent educational seminars on estimating, business management, and team-building, to name a few. Some quick highlights from the floor: ProEst's CEO Jeff Gerardi tells [...]