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Why is shared information and knowledge so important?

Why is shared information and knowledge so important?

This post is also available in Swedish: Varför är delad information och kunskap så viktigt?

We keep coming back to this topic. Share your knowledge, share your project information and together fulfil your full potential. In a report from last fall Eurostat reported that building costs in Sweden are 30% higher than in Finland and 60% higher than in the UK. Sweden has consecutively topped EU’s list of highest building costs for the past six years. All of us whom are working in the construction industry share a common responsibility to remedy this. The reasons for the high costs are several, hard to understand rules and lack of competitors in market are some but not the only ones. Don’t let the “big” questions overshadow what we are able to affect ourselves.

Lower building costs while maintaining profitability

How do you as an entrepreneur in the construction industry contribute to lowering costs for building while maintaining your profitability? If everyone took small steps to lower building costs the industry would be able to move mountains. The question itself is important to the industry because if we don’t try to break this trend ourselves someone else will and that will probably result in regulations and requirements in ways that might not be beneficial to market economy.

In my blog last month “The construction industry would do well with a dose of Transparency” I talked about the importance of sharing information that you build when estimating onto project management to increase efficiency. How are you working to increase your efficiency? What tools are your using to make your life easier, for you and your organisation?

Whether you’re using advanced estimation tools, CAD software or calculators, I’m sure there’s a good way for you to convey knowledge between departments to serve each other with good and relevant project information. When a workload is handed off to the next person or department in line this is often a point in which a gap arises. If you learn to close those gaps in information and making that hand off high quality your efficiency will increase dramatically. When you increase efficiency you’re then able to lower costs while maintaining profitability.

Who are your internal customers?

A good way of increasing quality in the hand off is to think of colleagues as “internal customers”. To do this you first need to map out your processes. Once completed, you will have identified several points where hand offs occur, for example between a sales rep and an estimator. From here you try to view each other as “internal customers”. The sales rep’s customer in this case is the estimator, whom you need to think of serving as well as you serve your external customer.

Why though? Well it’s quite simple; if the internal customers get served with bad quality they in turn will inherit that quality in their work meaning the output from the next step in process will be worse. It’s often a problem for internal functions (estimators, administration, economy) to understand how much their work affects the end result. This is why moving the concept of customer to an internal level will open up a new dimension to thinking about how we work with each other.

If we look at our construction project as raw material that is being refined in each step along the process, the value of that material will be increased every time it moves to the next step in process, or from person to person. By exchanging the concept of colleague to internal costumer you have a higher probability of refining your raw material into something where value is added in each step to a higher degree. Things like more complete work orders, better reports and better quotes are clear targets to aim for when doing this.

What circumstances are in place to make life easier for each other?

Last week Fredrik posted in his “Why this technology?” about the importance of scalability. I quote: “Scalability in design is often and undervalued factor when evaluating services.” Which systems, services and tools do you posses today that can be scaled up and distributed to the whole or large parts of your organisation and what implications would this have on efficiency? It might not be placing CAD-software in the hands of everyone but I’m sure you can see other solutions. We’ve seen Geometra make every day life easier for many of our user when they start rolling out access in a higher degree. With our new Unlimited Licensing costs are kept steady and you can grow your users without incurring higher costs. Ask your supplier; what packages they offer when it comes to scaling. Work order systems, time reporting, planning or something else?

I’m not telling you to start buying a bunch of software licenses that you might not need but instead ask yourself how you’re managing information flow in and why it’s being done in a certain way. Who’s getting what information, where and when? Viewing each other as internal customers might be a great way of improving your hand offs and conveying the correct knowledge.

If you want to read more about the concept of internal customers and internal marketing I recommend checking out:

Service Management and Marketing a customer relationship management approach by Christian Grönroos