One Problem at a Time

problem solutionRecently, I had the chance to watch The Martian again. It’s a great movie. I don’t think I spoil anything if I say that at one point Mark Watney, the main character in the movie, declares, “At some point, everything’s gonna go south on you…everything’s going to go south and you’re going to say, this is it. This is how I end. Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That’s all it is. You just begin. You do the math. You solve one problem…and you solve the next one…and then the next. And if you solve enough problems, you get to come home.”

I’d like to paraphrase that quote in the context of construction company owners:

At some point, your business is gonna go south and you’re going to say, this is it. This is how my company ends. Now you can either accept that, or you can get to work. That’s all it is. You just begin. You identify the problems. You solve one problem…and you solve the next one..and then the next. And if you solve enough problems, you get to be profitable.

You may think, “it’s not that simple!” and indeed some problems, such as the economy and lack as skilled workers, are harder to overcome. But if you are in this situation you may find that some of the problems you identify can be solved with a good, comprehensive project management system.

Of course, the first step is actually identifying the root of each problem.

Let’s say that you know that on several projects something was built to the wrong specifications, leading to time delays and extra expenses. This is a problem that should never happen. If workers are incompetent, you can replace them or reprimand them and hope they pay more attention next time. But what if you discover that these were honest mistakes made because someone looked at the wrong version of a file? Now you can identify the true problem: disorganized and competing versions of files. And that is a problem you can solve with a project management system. For example, the Spitfire Project Management System maintains all files and documents in one central catalog, and ensures that when someone opens a file, he or she sees its latest approve version. Spitfire also allows files in the cloud to sync with files in its catalog so that all project participants can refer to the same exact file at any time.

Or let’s say that you dread customer change orders because too often they lead to issues such as the budget not being adjusted properly or some crucial subcontractor not being notified. You find yourself eating costs and scrambling to keep the project on time. So you identify the roots of these problems: details falling through the cracks and poor communication among project participants. Again, these are problems you can solve with a project management system. For example, the Spitfire Project Management System automates much of the change order process so that financial records are updated without human intervention and all related documents are distributed to all proper subcontractors and everyone else who needs to be “in the know.”

There are many other problems that can be solved with a project management system such as Spitfire:

  • An amalgamation of Microsoft Excel spreadsheets with overlapping and duplicate information leads to errors in transfers and wasted effort and time.
  • Forgetting about certain due dates leads to poor work prioritization.
  • Not being able to access information from out in the field wastes time.
  • Missed compliance requirements put the project at risk.
  • Financial information that is not always up-to-date leads to unfortunate mistakes.
  • Reliance on email forces everyone to hunt for communications and maybe miss some.
  • Not knowing who made a bad decision and when results in finger-pointing and wasted time.
  • Incomplete documentation puts the project and the company at a legal disadvantage.

Come to think of it, perhaps you do not need to tackle one problem at a time, as Mark Watney says. With the right system in place, you can solve many problems all at once.

Contact us for a free demo of the Spitfire Project Management System and see how many of your problems can be solved by the right software.

 

This entry was posted in Project Management by Soni York. Bookmark the permalink.

About Soni York

Soni is the lead technical writer and communication specialist at Spitfire Management, responsible for user documentation, newsletters, webinars, social media and the website among other things. (She changes hats frequently.) She is also a trainer (see, another hat) who enjoys teaching new users the basics of the Spitfire Project Management System. Her postings on this site are all her own and don't necessarily represent Spitfire's positions, strategies or opinions.

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