Top 6 benefits of using CRM in construction businesses

Top 6 benefits of using CRM in construction businesses

I have blogged about CRM before here and here. This post details the top 6 benefits of using CRM in construction businesses.

The top 6 benefits of using CRM in construction businesses

#1 Managing the flow of business development intelligence

[bctt tweet=”CRM systems organise the diverse flow of information from wide-ranging stakeholders.“]

Companies working in the construction sector strategically manage relationships with a wide range of stakeholders, including contractors, architects, engineers, clients, consultants and local authorities. Efficiently capturing, managing and interpreting this data is critical to effectively controlling the business development and bidding processes. A CRM system streams this diverse inflowing information, allowing it to be efficiently interpreted.

#2 Knowledge and understanding of clients, consultants and other stakeholders

[bctt tweet=”Segmented information allows you to understand your clients and target your marcomms”]

Over time a significant bank of quality data will be captured, including projects worked on together and opportunities referred. This information is extremely valuable in the business development and work-winning processes. Segmented information also enables you to sort the organisations you work with and target your marketing communications. For example segmenting by discipline, by value of opportunities referred or by client type.

#3 It provides quality management information

[bctt tweet=”CRM provides real-time management information, allowing for informed decision-making”]

Decision making is well-informed by real-time data and provides real visibility across the business, accessible by everyone. This is particularly useful around pipeline management and sharing relationship/marketing information across the business. A CRM system can also provide the perfect location for sharing project-related collateral, or information on organisations you have relationships with.

#4 Proactive management of business processes

Tasks and activities can be diarised and centrally coordinated, as well as providing total visibility around who is responsible for specific actions.

#5 Drives efficiency throughout the business

CRM provides a single location for a whole host of information. This ranges from the simple to the more complex and minimises replication.

#6 Improved relationships within the business

[bctt tweet=”Sharing information across the business improves relationships and increases efficiency”]

Sharing client information across the business improves relationships between teams, as well as developing a culture of working together towards common goals. This is particularly important for organisations based in a number of offices.

I have worked with many CRM systems, particularly during implementation stages. I can work with you to develop the right protocols for your business to drive the right insights from the data.

How to write winning CVs for construction submissions

How to write winning CVs for construction submissions

There are two key pieces of work-winning collateral which are sure to be requested for each construction submission, whether it is a PQQ or ITT. These are project information sheets or case studies and CVs.

[Tweet “CVs provide the opportunity for the bidder to clearly demonstrate the calibre, skills and experience of the proposed team. “]

Here is my how-to guide to write winning CVs for construction submissions. 

#1 – The basics   

This is the basic information you need to include:

  • Name
  • Role/proposed role on the project
  • Qualifications

#2 – Profile of the individual  

Use this section to clearly align the person with the requirements of the project. Use the client’s language to reflect back their team requirements. 

Write an overview of the individual. This needs to succinctly describe the individual, their background, key skills and any particular specialism they may have. Specialisms may include particular sector, contract-type experience or building typologies.

The information included in this section needs to be relevant and appropriate to the project being bid for.

#3 – Proposed role on the project   

Why has this person been selected and what will their daily project responsibilities be? 

Clearly demonstrate to the client and their advisory team why this individual has been carefully chosen for their project.

Explain:

  • how they will interface with the client and project team;
  • who they report to;
  • how much time they will spend on the project, i.e. full-time or visiting; and
  • what their specific daily responsibilities will be.

#4 – Projects   

Demonstrate how the individual has added value and made a big difference on their previous schemes. Quantify the impact. 

Although it is important to put into context a person’s experience, merely describing the project really misses a great opportunity to demonstrate the calibre of the person. Include dates, project value and a brief project description, but use this section to focus on a person’s  specific contribution to a project. Also ensure the added value examples clearly relate to the project you are pursuing.

Examples of added value:

  • Developing efficient design to exceed minimum statutory standards.
  • Designing an energy-efficient heating/lighting/ventilation system which has had a demonstrable positive benefit for the client, saving them money (quantify the amount of money saved by the client through this solution).
  • Developing a construction solution which saved time, money or both.
  • Working on a site which was occupied throughout the build period.
  • Clear, quantifiable examples of innovation or sustainability.

#5 – Nice to includes 

Include the nice extras, including completion photographs and client testimonials. 

Please contact me to work with you on developing bespoke CVs or other bid collateral for submissions.

CRM for construction businesses: 10 best practice points for successful implementation

CRM for construction businesses: 10 best practice points for successful implementation

My original CRM post was turning into a bit of a monster, so I have split it out. I have been involved with CRM at a variety of stages in a number of different businesses over the years and there are always recurring themes. This piece looks at some key points of best practice for successful implementation.

1. Having a marketing strategy which is clearly aligned to the company’s objectives 

This may sound like common sense, but so many businesses overlook the fact that marketing plans should be integrated into the company’s goals. CRM needs to support the direction the business is travelling in and it there needs to be clarity around how CRM will facilitate this.

Communicate this clarity to the business via the comms plan (below) and develop your roll-out strategy around it.

2. Gaining executive-level buy-in and sponsorship throughout implementation and beyond  

One of the key reasons for CRM failing is that senior management don’t buy-in to it. Equally, when CRM has been successfully embedded into an organisation, the key theme has been executive level support and their demanding a flow of quality management information from the system. Pulling the information up through the organisation via non-negotiable reporting requirements has been the single most important contributor to success, in my experience.

3. Appoint a strong project manager   

The project manager will be the ‘face’ of the project, managing information requirements and delegating tasks. They will provide the interface between the software provider, senior management and users.

4. Understand your clients’ and business needs
Understand 

The whole process is about putting your clients central to your business operations. As part of point 1 above, take this opportunity to crystallise what your clients need and want from you.

As part of the research phase, really take the time to understand the needs of the various teams internal to your business. This will also link into point 1 above. How can CRM support the teams to achieve the goals the senior management of the business has set?

Process mapping  

Mapping the work flow through a business is key to understanding how CRM will impact each team. This will make any customisation of the system easier. This could also be an opportunity to objectively review how things happen and whether they can be improved.

5. Develop a strong network of CRM champions throughout the business   

This localised support is essential during implementation and afterwards,  providing knowledge, guidance, training and report-production on an on-going basis. Involve the champions from the earliest stages, throughout implementation and beyond. They will be the strongest advocates of the new system and help drive behavioural change.

6. Have a clear strategy for roll-out  

Set a clear vision with clear goals for roll-out. Develop a number of quick-wins around your company objectives. For example, this could be creating a single contact database or proactive pipeline management. Focus on these areas first and implement a ‘step-by-step’ roll-out, which doesn’t overawe the business. Roll-out is an ongoing process, taking months or even years. In certain circumstances, new modules and parts will be continually added. It shouldn’t be thought of as a project with a specific end, because it will almost certainly evolve with the business and will require ongoing updates and training.

Be clear about the fact that CRM isn’t a technology, it’s a state of mind.

7. Develop a robust communications plan  

Any change management programme requires the support of a robust communications plan. The key requirement of a CRM implementation plan is to focus on value, both for the business and the user. Frequently CRM fails because client-facing teams of the business fail to see any value in what they are being requested to do. In the case of construction, this is technical people already busy with project delivery.

Communication channels will range from internal communications, training and consistent messaging provided by the executive sponsor, project manager and CRM champions.

8. Have realistic expectations for the short- and medium-term  

CRM definitely isn’t a panacea for any business’s ills. It requires sustained effort to embed cultural and behavioural change, particularly amongst the team which is client-facing. It isn’t realistic to expect a 100% increase on sales within a three-month time period. Manage the expectations of senior management.

9. Data cleansing and integrity   

If you are moving data across from a previous system, even if it was in Outlook or Excel, check and double check the integrity of the data before undertaking a mass upload. If you do this step properly, it will save a lot of time and you will be starting off from a good foundation. Getting this step wrong will compromise the whole project.

10. Training  

A comprehensive training programme is key, along with the provision of a suite of materials to support users on an ongoing basis. The CRM champions should be responsible for coordinating and delivering training programmes, feeding back comments and observations.

Work-winning: The results of the bid cost survey are in

Work-winning: The results of the bid cost survey are in

Further to the post I wrote in November 2014 about the bid cost survey MarketingWorks and the University of Reading were undertaking, the results have recently been published in Construction News.

The results were very instructive and clearly demonstrate the need for everyone working in the construction industry to be:

  • more selective about the work they pitch for; and
  • spend much more time pre-bid getting to know the client and understanding their drivers, needs, concerns and aspirations for the project.

When I was working in-house, I spent much of my time being instructed to ‘take a punt’ on opportunities we were clearly not going to win, because we didn’t have the right relationships or experience. Basically we hadn’t done the right groundwork in advance. The impact of this was sub-standard submissions, no marketing and a very cheesed-off bid coordinator (or bid gimp, as I started calling myself).

There were some interesting statistics published in the article, including the rather startling assertion that some contractors are spending an average of 22% of their operating turnover pitching for work. If companies were more strategic about their bidding activities and the opportunities they were pursuing, they could convert this potential loss into a potential profit.

How much does it cost to bid a construction project?

The bid cost data was collected throughout 2014 and provides a snapshot of the industry during an improving market. It provided a sample of £11.3bn of total project value, of which £8bn has full cost data. This reflects a significant chunk of the total industry for the year.

Using this data, it was calculated the average cost of a winning tender was:

  • Contractors: £60,208 
  • Consultants: £23,821

These costs were calculated as an average across all respondents and project sizes.

This is where the 22% of operational turnover comes in. It is based on a conversion rate of 1:5. This figure will be challenged by many, however look at it from the opposite perspective. Basing your bidding strategy on a conversion rate of 1:5 still means you are planning to lose four out of every five pitches you submit. If your hit rate is lower than this, you are actually planning to be even less successful and therefore waste more overhead on pursuits you won’t win. Surely it’s time for a new approach?

Work-winning behaviours

The article points out that a number of behaviours play a critical role in work-winning, bid selectivity only being one of them.

Spend more time developing your proposal

This includes business development activities, like getting to know the client and understand the project, as well as bidding activities such as Go/No Go, proposal development and review. Clearly, this will cost the business more in terms of overhead spend, but if you are being more strategic and selective about the work you are pursuing, the costs will balance out and the rewards will be greater.

Client feedback, or lack of it

I know only too well the difficulty in obtaining quality client feedback following a submission, whether it has been successful or not. As Philip Collard rightly points out, the bidder not understanding the reasons for bids being unsuccessful “…leads to the conclusion that the industry as a whole (both sides of the work-winning process) are not valuing the role that feedback plays in improving the efficiency of work-winning approaches and behaviours.”

From a bidder’s perspective, if you don’t request feedback on bids, whether they are successful or unsuccessful, how will you know where you have gone wrong and how you can improve your submissions in the future. Similarly, clients must be prepared to provide detailed and valuable feedback to bidders, clearly highlighting perceived weaknesses and strengths. Closing this loop is essential if the industry is to make any attempt at continuous improvement where bidding is concerned.

Both Philip Collard and Jan Hayter (marketing director, MarketingWorks) can be contacted directly if you wish to discuss this research in more depth. You can also join in the discussion on Twitter via #bidcostsurvey.

1 September – that back to school feeling

1 September – that back to school feeling

This time of year always reminds me of new terms and fresh starts, even though I left school 20 years ago. The sense of new exercise books and resolutions to try harder this time has never left me in my adult life and I always commence September with a list of objectives and resolutions for the coming months.

The weather in Manchester generally improves during the early autumn (although not this morning I must confess) and a summer’s reprieve can follow a dismal August. The sunshine and clear blue skies encourage positivity and clarity of thought.

This year, this feeling coincides with my new venture being in its infancy, so I am thinking about where I want to be and what I want to have achieved by Christmas, next spring and next summer. It is an exciting time for me. I have always wanted to experience the thrills and spills of running my own business and I am finally doing that.

My aims for the next year are to firstly deliver successfully the work I have already secured and develop a reputation for bid writing and marketing excellence. I will also be building my social media profile, demonstrating to the industry the value of social media and offering these services to clients. I will be increasing my skills base, particularly learning Illustrator to create infographics, so that I can provide a single-stop solution to clients.

From a business management perspective, I will be undertaking tasks I have never done before, for example finance. This fills me with trepidation, but there is a lot of help out there which I have been accessing. I am also thinking about what my business means and stands for. Not just in terms of the services it delivers to clients, but also how it delivers its services. I will be talking more about this in a future post.

So September and the following months will be busy, but I’ve got a stack of clean notebooks and firm resolutions, so I’m relishing the challenge.

Developing a library of standard information… and keeping it up to date

Developing a library of standard information… and keeping it up to date

One of the main challenges of bid writing and delivering any kind of submission is having an endless supply of accurate information. This task is never complete, but done properly will enable you to focus on developing quality bespoke content for each pitch, rather than searching for material you know you have written before, but can never find when you need it…

I speak from bitter experience on this subject, because I know how tedious it can seem to go back through submitted bids to strip out and archive good content for the future. However, I have also wasted many an hour under a lot of stress sorting through previous submissions for golden pieces of information.

Generic information which is asked for time after time

There is much standard information grouped into business functions which is requested time after time. The more you do to organise this, the easier your life will be.

This information includes (but isn’t exhaustive):

Organisational information

such as certificate of incorporation, company number, VAT number, registered address, number of offices, description of services provided. Review and update annually.

Finance and accounts

(always worth getting annual statistics on turnover by sector and service as well, if you want to be ahead of the game). Review and update annually.

Quality management

Including QA certificates, standard text on approach and process, implementation and non-conformance, and complaints procedures. Review and update annually. Speak to the QA manager following any audits.

Health and safety

Including H&S certificate or relevant procedures and systems. It is definitely worth getting your head around CDM regulations if you are a bid writer/manager working in the built environment. The roles and responsibilities are different and this has an implication for the information required. It is also worth noting the CDM regs will be changing again in 2015, with big implications for architects.

Review and update annually and keep up to date with any changes in regulations, so you can speak to the H&S manager about them

Environment

Such as an environmental management certificate or similar processes and procedures. Try to also to gather information which demonstrates the effectiveness of initiatives. Also, if your organisation is involved in designing and delivering BREEAM-accredited buildings, you can never have too many case studies on how the grade was achieved and what the quantifiable outcomes have been.

Review the standard information annually and produce case studies on an ongoing basis.

People

This information can be wide-ranging, including Investors in People, policies on a range of issues from recruitment to development, staff numbers cut by grade and staff turnover. Best to make good friends with your HR team and ask them to provide a range of information on a regular basis.

Review and update annually

Discipline-specific information

Such as design approach or approach to planning construction projects. This information will be guided by quality management processes and will be available within the business. Ensure you are communicating it accurately.

Review and update annually and be aware of any updates or changes

Bespoke ‘golden nuggets’

This is the information which is created specifically for certain bids and other submissions. It is generally technical in nature and takes a while to produce. Examples can include ‘added value’, ‘BREEAM’ or technical approach, but again, this list isn’t exhaustive.

When the submission has been completed, go through the bid and strip out this content and archive it in a separate Word document. The most simple approach is to create one document with an index of the questions, along with the responses. This will enable you to quickly search through in future and will also provide you with a boilerplate or ‘starter for ten’ for those last minute submissions.

Again, this information can be reviewed annually or more frequently and updated with fresh content or examples. Always key to these questions is the quality of evidence provided to support your claims. Make sure you speak to your technical colleagues to know what is happening on projects.

Please get in touch with me if I can help you develop a standard information library for your business.