A common complaint we hear from integrators is that they lack information to help with job costing. Nobody seems to have enough data in an easily accessible format to help them make well-informed project decisions.
In the article, Job Costing Critical Piece to Preserving Margins, Solutions360 CEO Brad Dempsey discusses how job costing is typically thought of as an accounting function.
But accountants look at data in the rearview mirror. Conversely, operations and sales managers need to use data to look ahead, and to anticipate and plan accordingly.
“Job costing is about managing your gross margins and how that affects your jobs,” says Dempsey. “The people who can make changes are the ones with feet on the ground.”
Job-costing insights are further complicated by the amount of time it takes to traditionally gather information on costs hitting the job. It can be several weeks (or even months) before an integrator has visibility into how a project performed; any type of delay leads to fewer chances to course correct.
When there’s a time lag before you find out whether a project performed poorly, it becomes more difficult to recall which issues led to the margin erosion. The problem is further exacerbated when job costing numbers are incomplete, which leads to repeating the same mistakes on future estimates. Having real-time, accurate job costing allows you to leverage the information to improve the estimating process moving forward.
Integrating Data into Q360 Automation Software
In June, NSCA released an updated Labor Installation Standard guideline, providing information that systems integrators can use to accurately estimate labor units – one of the biggest factors impacting project profitability (or the lack thereof). The new guideline details the amount of time it takes to complete project-related tasks, factoring in time spent on material handling, examining drawings/layouts, and equipment installation.
For 30 years, Solutions360 has listened to its customers, constantly innovating Q360 automation software based on feedback and direction. It comes as no surprise that job costing is a top consideration to Q360 customers. So, in conjunction with NSCA releasing its updated Labor Installation Standard, Solutions360 made the data in this report searchable within the Q360 software.
“By bringing the Labor Installation Standard into Q360, NSCA member customers gain the added benefit of having this research searchable directly within the software,” says Roman Burchart, vice president of operations at Solutions360. “This makes it easier than ever to cross reference or spot check quoted labor hours against NSCA data, and assists in minimizing the risks associated with developing accurate estimates.”
Solutions360 also plans to provide easier access to labor standards data for all NSCA members. “We have the engine that allows you to search and manipulate data so you can really leverage it, as opposed to just looking at it on your screen,” says Burchart. “This will add value for all NSCA members.”
In a similar fashion, Solutions360 developed and made available to NSCA members the Project Contribution Training Simulator tool, which allows members to see how their labor and material pricing affects margins long before they put a proposal in front of a prospective customer.
“We look forward to bringing NSCA research into Q360 in an effort to make these valuable tools more accessible than ever,” Burchart concludes. Solutions360 will demonstrate this capability at Pivot to Profit.
Innovation at Pivot to Profit
The third annual Pivot to Profit conference will be held on Oct. 23-24 in Atlanta.
Solutions360 is excited to participate in Pivot to Profit as a sponsor. Part of Pivot to Profit’s innovation hall, Solutions360 will join other companies that offer unique services and solutions to help integrators grow recurring revenue. If you can make it to Atlanta, be sure to stop by and see Solutions360.
If you can come a day early, join us on Oct. 22 as we raise money for IGNITE through a golf event. The IGNITE program is a valuable initiative that helps attract, engage, and encourage students and young professionals to join the systems integration industry.
Later this same evening, in conjunction with sponsor alliantgroup, NSCA is hosting a Build-A-Bike team-building event. Teams will be provided with tools and parts to build bikes that will be given to the Joseph B. Whitehead Boys & Girls Club of Metro Atlanta.
We look forward to seeing you in Atlanta! -The Solutions360 Team