Decisions on Time: Selections Management

Decisions on Time: Selections Management

Amber Harlow

A large part of any custom project is client selections.  While creating something completely custom is exciting, the number of decisions required during that process can be overwhelming - for all parties involved.

Effectively using selections within CoConstruct can help you and your client keep the project on schedule by outlining each choice that needs to be made and clearly defining deadlines.  The following tools will help you fully utilize CoConstruct for managing your selections.

 

Specs & Selections

OBJECTIVE: Know how to use the Specs & Selections page to tell the narrative of your project and to enable clients to make decisions.

WHAT IT DOES: CoConstruct’s Specifications and Selections page allows you to demonstrate command of a project's details and earn your client's confidence. It is the place where clients make decisions. The Specs and Selections page is used by clients and team members as the central and universally accessible location for project information. Communication between Clients, your Team, and your Trades all happens on this page.

ANATOMY OF SPECS & SELECTIONS: The Specs and Selections page is organized in the same manner as the Estimate.

  1. Tier I: Categories are at the highest level and used to sort and organize your estimate information. Whether you organize your data by room, division, or it rests in order of construction, the categories help you maintain the order you choose.
  2. Tier II: Items are the building block of estimating in CoConstruct. These are unique pieces of the project that you will price and define and also sort within a category. There are two kinds of items in CoConstruct - Specifications and Selections.
    • Specifications are things that you as the builder/company have decided are going into the project that require no feedback or decision from the client. These include such pieces as labor, permits, demolition, excavation, or site work - all pieces of the project where you've researched and defined what it entails.
    • Selections require a decision or choice from the client. Certain pieces of the project will need some input from the buyer such as what tile they want or flooring or if they want to upgrade to level II countertops.
  3. Tier III: The Costs that make up the project and roll up to provide you totals per item, category, and for the job as a whole


HERE'S HOW: SPECIFICATIONS

  1. Click on the “+ New ” button at the top left of the Specs & Selections page.
  2. Select “Specification” from the drop down.
  3. Enter the Item name and select the Category. You can edit Categories using the "Edit categories" link in the upper right corner of any item. Type in the name of the new Category > Add > Save!
  4. Enter specification information, client-specific information, and Trade Partner specific information to tell the project narrative. Differentiate who sees what scope and details based on the text box you type into.
    • NOTE: Information placed in these text boxes goes other places (all part of that single-entry feel). Specification Information will automatically appear on Proposals, Bid Requests, and Proposals while Client Information optionally appears on Proposals and Trade Partner Information appears on Bid Requests and Proposals.
  5. If you are tracking your budget in CoConstruct, add the relevant costs for the specification item using "Add cost line".
  6. Click the “Add item” button at the bottom to save your changes and return you to the main Specs & Selections page.

 

HERE'S HOW: SELECTIONS/CHOICES

  1. Click on the " + New” link at the top left the Specs & Selections page and select "Selection."
  2. Enter the Item name and select the Category. You can edit Categories using the "Edit categories" link in the upper right corner of any item. Type in the name of the new Category > Add > Save!
  3. Provide clients with deadlines for their choices by using the "Requested By" fields. Either tie the selection directly to a schedule milestone (allowing the schedules timeline to determine due dates) or manually enter a hard date you select. Keep clients on track and informed by assigning due dates to their choices.
  4. Enter selection information, client-specific information, and Trade Partner specific information to describe the selection. Use the Client Information text field to specify further instructions and details to your clients about how to make their decision.
  5. Enter in any original costs for the selection in the "Original Budget" which could either be the amount for standard included options, allowances, or proposal prices for that section of the job. On Fixed Price projects, use the "Client Allowance" check box to indicate that the item and amounts indicated are part of an allowance for the client.
  6. Choices: There are two ways to present choices to your client.
    • Predefined Choices display to your clients a list of choices that they could select one option from. Provide a description of each option and enter the costs associated. In Fixed Price projects these options will show how much more each option will cost above the already allocated original budget.
    • Open Ended Choices display to your clients a text box that they'll be able to type their choice into. These choices are great for when there are so many options available it's easier to simply have your client type in their choice OR when you're providing a client with an allowance then your client can simply report to you what they went and choose.
  7. Select whether or not you want to give your clients an option to decline a selection item.
  8. Click on the "Add Item" button at the bottom to save and add your choice item to your project.

 

HERE'S HOW: COPY FROM TEMPLATE

  1. Click on the “+ New ” button at the top left of the Specs & Selections page.
  2. Select "Copy from Spec / Selection Template."
  3. Select the Template you'd like to pull items from
  4. Check off the particular specs and selections needed for the project
  5. Select "Copy Items to Project"
  6. To edit the specifications, use the "Edit" link at the top right corner of each item.


SIMPLE TIPS & TRICKS:

  • Navigation: Expand and collapse details so you see exactly the amount you want to see by using the bar on the far-right side of the page. In this location, you can also filter to show upcoming or overdue decisions, so you can focus your clients on those tasks. Need to jump to a specific Category? Select the category at the top of the page by using the drop down box to the right of "Jump To:"
  • Preview Client Side: do you want to see the project details "as they do?" Be confident in the information you're showing them by selecting the "Preview Client Side" eyeball icon on the top right corner of the page. You can easily toggle back-and-forth between builder and client views.
  • Hyperlinking: Add hyperlinks to manufacturer information you want to share with your clients. Clients will be able to quick link to websites they'll need to visit in order to make great choices.
  • Adding Color: Upload pictures and files to items then share them with your clients so everything is all in one place.
  • Templates: Use Spec/Selection Templates to systematize similar projects and provide a consistent process for your team and customers.

RESOURCES:

  1. Specs & Selections Overview
  2. Creating a selection item
  3. Selection Scenarios

 

Files & Photos

OBJECTIVE: Keep track of and find project files/photos when you need them.

WHAT YOU NEED: A project and a file or photo associated with that project.


HERE'S HOW: UPLOADING FILES ON THE WEBSITE

  1. Go to the Files & Photos page for any project
  2. Choose the tab at the top for Files.
  3. Click to "Upload Files" by pressing the green circle with the + in the middle
  4. Select "Choose Files" then browse on your computer for the file.
  5. Add details to the file such as labels to organize and sort your documents, a description to offer more color and explanation, and finally sharing permissions with clients and/or trade partners.  **Labels can be added here OR the under Account Settings**
  6. When you've got the appropriate details in place, select "Upload" to add them to the project.


HERE'S HOW: UPLOADING PHOTOS ON THE WEBSITE

  1. Go to the Files & Photos page for any project
  2. Choose the tab at the top for Photos.
  3. Click to "Upload Photos" by pressing the green circle with the + in the middle.
  4. Add photos by either selecting to "+Add more files" OR you can also Drag & Drop photos directly onto the page where it says "Drop files here"
  5. Add details to the photos such as labels, a description, and sharing permissions.
  6. When you've got the appropriate details in place, select "Upload" to add them to the project.

 

HERE'S HOW: UPLOADING PHOTOS FROM MOBILE APP

  1. Navigate to a project and select "Photos."
  2. Hit the "+" in the top right corner or select "Attach photos" at the bottom of the page.
  3. Hit "Select photos" and choose "Take Photo or Video" if you want to take a live photo or choose "Photo Library."
  4. You can annotate or draw right on your photos once you select them. Just hit "Draw."
  5. Select visibility preferences - who do you want to see them? Owners? The default setting is to make it visible to them.
  6. Select an appropriate label and add a description.
  7. Finish it all off by selecting "Upload" at the bottom to add them to the project.


SIMPLE TIPS & TRICKS:

  • Filtering & Sorting: On the full website, use the filer feature on the far right of the page to select which files or photos to view. Have files or photos attached to schedule tasks, bid requests, or selections? Simply select to see "All Files" or those "Attached Elsewhere" to see the full repository of information. You can also use the labels you applied to filter and sort by a certain category or tag.
  • Communicating Project Progress in a Snap: Do you find yourself taking hundreds of pics between rough-in and drywall to make sure you record every inch of your projects? Traditional smartphones get the job done but now there's a better (and easier) way! Simply use a 360 camera to capture your job's progress then upload those to CoConstruct. Not only will it save you time and energy but will also wow your clients!

 

WHY THIS MATTERS:

  1. Everything is in one place.
  2. Tell the story of your projects by using photos. 12 months from now, it will be great to have a pictorial history of what happened on a specific day. You may find these images very helpful in dealing with clients who argue that "nothing happened in September!"
  3. Never forget uploading: You can take a photo on site and upload it to the right location without logging out of your mobile app.
  4. Access photos taken from the field in the office immediately and vice versa.
  5. Does your office need that receipt "right now?" Upload it and make it available..."right now."


RESOURCES:

  1. Files & Photos Overview
  2. Organizing Photos by Category
  3. Using 360 Photos

 

To-dos

OBJECTIVE: Understand what To-dos are used for, how they are created, and how you can use them in your business.

WHAT ARE TO-DOS: Any ad-hoc, in the minute task that needs to be accomplished that doesn't fit on a project schedule. To-dos help you delegate tasks - assign them to another team member or a Trade Partner to get things done. Create them individually, or cut-and-paste an entire list of items into a project.

HOW TO: FROM THE OFFICE

  1. Select the project on which the task applies
  2. Select the "To-dos" tab from the project's navigation bar.
  3. Type in the subject line of the task (or cut-and-paste in a list of tasks) then press "+ Add"
  4. Use the details section on the far right to finish providing all the information needed about the task. Add in a description of the work to be completed, assign a team member and/or trade partner to the task, and give the task a due date.
  5. Attach any files or photos, either from the project or directly from your computer.
  6. Simply leave the page when you're done and CoConstruct will instantly send out that To-do to those involved.


HOW TO: FROM THE FIELD

  1. Select the project on which the task applies
  2. Select "To-dos" from the menu list of options
  3. Click on the "+" at the top right of the screen OR select the green "Add an item" button.
  4. Fill out the task details with a subject/topic and description.
  5. Assign a team member or Trade Partner to the ask then give the task a due date.
  6. Attach a photo to the task by selecting "Attach photos" then either take a live photo or choose from your photo library.

 

SIMPLE TIPS & TRICKS:

  • Create From Anywhere: Don't worry about having to leave the page you're on and interrupt your train of thought. Find the "+ Add To-do" button in the upper right corner of the web browser to easily create a To-do task.
  • Sharing To-dos: Decide whether you'd like to share any to-dos with your clients. Use the three dotted icon on the full website or the mobile toggle to select sharing permissions. Any to-dos entered using the mobile app are automatically hidden from your clients.
  • Adding Color: Draw attention to certain aspects of your To-do photos by drawing right on the image


RESOURCES:

 

Task Manager

OBJECTIVE: At the conclusion of this training, our goal is that you know how to manage tasks across your entire company - both internally and within your projects.

WHAT YOU NEED:

  1. At least one project with existing schedule Tasks, Warranty Requests, or To-Do's.
  2. One or more builder-side users and trade-partners in the system.


HOW TO USE THE TASK MANAGER:

  1. On the Main Page, select "Task Manager"
  2. You can view tasks in the Task Manger in three different views: List, Calendar, and Gantt.
  3. If you want to add a new To-do or Warranty task, selecting the " + Add New " icon on the right side of the page.
  4. To filter and search among all tasks and assignees, across all of your projects, select "Filter & Search" on the left side of the page.
  5. On the Search page:
    • Select one or more projects to search.
    • Search by one or more contacts that have tasks assigned to them.
    • Select the type of Task: To-dos, Warranty Requests, Schedule Tasks, or Contact Activities
    • If you have Project Groups assigned, select which group you would like to search within.
    • Select the date range, or leave it on "All Dates."
    • Determine the order you would like results to show up in.
    • EXAMPLE: Show me tasks in the "Smith Project & Jones Project" assigned to "Electrician - Bob - First Electrical LLC" that are "Warranty Requests" for projects only if they are in the "Warranty Phase." Organize the results by "Project" and then by "Start Date."
  6. Edit or mark tasks as complete on the right side of the List View by clicking the icon.
  7. Check on the notification history by selecting the "Envelope" icon on the List View.
  8. View or add comments to a task by selecting the "Quote Bubble" icon on the List View.
  9. Export tasks to Excel by pressing the "Export" icon on the right side of the page.
  10. Print a list by selecting the "Printer" icon at the top of the page.

RESOURCES

  1. Reporting on and Managing Your Project Schedules

 

Bidding

OBJECTIVE: Obtain accurate pricing for your projects by creating and sending bid requests to your Trade Partners.

WHAT IT DOES: The bidding portal of CoConstruct is designed to help you request quotes from your subs, trades, and vendors. Use the portal to request quotes, communicate plans/drawings, and discuss prices. When thinking about the order of processes in CoConstruct, the best practice is to start with an estimate framework. Gather together at least a skeleton of line items you know you'll need to price then you'll be able to ask your trade partners for quotes on those specific pieces of the project. Use the estimate to detail out what those costs are you need from your trade partners in addition to any scope of work details they'll need to know about the project.

HERE'S HOW:

  1. In a project, go to Financials > Bids
  2. Plan Room: Add any files you want to include in your bid requests at the bottom of the page by selecting the "+ Add File." Attach any plans, drawings, photos, or scope from your computer or from already existing project files so your trades have access to the appropriate documents. Trade Partners will receive access to the Plan Room via a link in the bid request email. No logging into a system required!
  3. Enter a new bid request by selecting the "+ New" button at the top of the page.
  4. Fill out the Bid Request
    • Title the request by specific trade or material (i.e. Plumbing, Lumber Material, Excavation) to easily award work.
    • Select "Add bid line" and choose to "Use existing cost line" to pull from your already created estimate. You'll be able to select from the line items on your estimate which ones you'll need prices for in this area of the job.
    • Select which Trade Partners will be involved in the bid - keep in mind that all communication will be blind copy.
    • Enter any Instructions, Inclusions, or Exclusions that you want to convey to your Trades in order to specify certain details regarding this project and request. Set any text as a default using the appropriate check box on the left.
    • Chose a due date and how often you want the bidders to be reminded. Set it and forget it! Let CoConstruct follow-up for you.
  5. Either save the request to send later to select to "Send Now"

 

RECEIVING & AWARDING BIDS:

  1. During the bidding process, you can communicate with one or all of the bidders on a specific bid request using the communication area at the bottom. Start a conversation or answer any questions privately!
  2. When you have received pricing from your Trade Partner, enter the final value for each Cost Line by selecting "Add Amount" under the bidder's column at the top of the request details. Enter in the unit cost per their quote to log their bid.
  3. Once you've decided who will win the work, select on the name of the bidder and select "Award" to send them a message letting them know.
  4. Finally, you can push the selected bid back over to the estimate by using the "Push to Estimate" feature on that bidders details. This way your estimate will have the most up-to-date numbers as you build out the price for your client.

 

SIMPLE TIPS & TRICKS:

  • Zip Files: Consider placing your plans and drawings into zip files on your computer and naming them appropriately to help your trades with finding the correct documentation. This way the plan room will be organized and streamlined.
  • Notes For All: Did Joe the Framer ask a question all other framers on the bid would benefit knowing the answer to? Use the "Send to All Bidders" check box in the communication area to write a note that gets sent to all the bidders involved on that particular bid.
  • When to Push: Do you typically requests quotes after submitting an initial proposal to your clients? Pushing a bid over the estimate is completely optional. Keep that original number for the client and your tracking. You can easily push the awarded bid amount over to a Purchase Order to track price commitments to your trades.

 

RESOURCES:

  1. Bidding overview
  2. Creating a new bid request
  3. How do I enter amounts that I receive from my bidders?

 

Budget Tracking

OBJECTIVE: How to utilize the budget tab to track the financial health of your project.

WHAT IT DOES: The Budget page is where you can go to see where your project stands financially at any point based upon what you planned to spend (the Original Budget), what you're expecting to spend (the Revised Budget – based upon client decisions and change orders/variations), what you've committed to spend through PO's to partners (the Committed column) and what you've actually spent so far on the project (The Actuals column).


HERE'S HOW:

  1. When you have finalized your estimate, the values for each of your accounting codes will appear automatically on the Budget page.
  2. The Original Budget column represents the baseline costs for your project. Individual job costs are found by clicking the ">" symbol next to your accounting code. The resulting drop-down box shows all the places that the selected accounting code appears in your project. Totals for your costs and profit are reflected at the bottom of the page. Remember that Estimate = Original Budget.
  3. As selections are made or change orders take place, the resulting budget changes will be reflected in the Revised Budget column. New cost and profit totals will be reflected at the bottom of the page.
  4. The Committed column shows the value of all Purchase Orders (POs) made in CoConstruct and let against that accounting code. Do you use POs? If you don't, you should! POs connect profit expectations with profit actuals.
  5. The Actuals column shows all the expenses you have actually PAID toward the cost of the project. Either manually enter in these actuals on the budget page or link your system with QuickBooks to have those acutals automatically appear anytime a bill or expense is logged. Get accurate, in the minute, updates on where your job stands by utilizing actuals.
  6. The Cost to Complete column shows the costs outstanding on a project after any actuals have been applied. Know where you stand with your overall project.


SIMPLE TIPS & TRICKS:

  • TIP #1: Where the Estimate and Specs and Selection pages are organized by category and appear in the order dictated by your category titles, the Budget page is organized by Accounting Code. This is an important difference. By organizing the budget by Accounting Code, you will be able to quickly research actuals as they are processed. You will also quickly identify areas where you are performing above or below your financial expectations.
  • TIP #2: You can track your financial performance for a project, even if you don't use the estimate in CoConstruct! Simply connect your QuickBooks account and allow your actual expenses to be imported into CoConstruct. You will find your actual expenses listed on the budget page for reference whenever you need it.
  • TIP #3: Mobile App: With the mobile budget overview, you’ll now know where you are under or over, at a glance, across your budget. On your mobile app, simply navigate to the financials area of any active project and you will now see both the summary view and the budget overview.

RESOURCES:

  1. Accounting Codes Overview
  2. Budget overview

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