Most in the industry recognize that D-Tools System Integrator (SI) offers a robust library of low-voltage products, a comprehensive and flexible proposal solution, and an integrated and efficient engineering drawing platform. But what many have not kept track of is the broad range of project management features that D-Tools SI has added in recent years.
When it comes to managing projects, there are a handful of keys to success. They include:
- Change orders being accurately tracked and billed;
- Equipment/materials being ordered, received and delivered in time for installation;
- Technicians and other labor resources being allocated, scheduled and tasked;
- Field activity and details being communicated back to the project manager/office;
- Project documentation remaining up to date and accurate;
- Project completion coming in on time and on budget.
Let’s explore how D-Tools SI addresses each of these critical success factors.
Change Orders. A project can quickly turn from profitable to unprofitable if change orders are not accurately tracked and billed. D-Tools SI not only incorporates a highly sophisticated change order module (updated in SI 2018) but, if used properly, prevents the possibility of design oversights through a series of checks and balances. For example, if you update a drawing, that change is automatically reflected on the bill of materials, and vice versa. That design change, regardless of whether it is positive or negative, and regardless of whether it has resulted from a change to the equipment list or a drawing, appears as a pending change order. A similar check and balance process occurs when issuing purchase orders and work orders.
Purchasing and Receiving. D-Tools SI makes it easy to order, account for, and track products for a project. Because D-Tools SI utilizes manufacturer product specifications as the basis to generate proposals and drawings, that information can be leveraged to generate purchase orders (which can be organized by vendor, project phase, category, etc.). Purchase Orders can contain products from a single project, or can be expanded to include products for multiple projects. Purchase orders can be sent directly to vendors via SI’s Outlook integration, or sent to the D-Tools Vendor Portal, where vendors can accept, comment, and respond to specific issues or questions. POs can be pushed over to QuickBooks for accounting purposes, and products received can be accepted and tracked within SI. Project items are tracked in the SI project via a date stamp and item status (i.e., Ordered, Received, Installed).
Item Tracking. Project managers need to know the status of items designated for a given project at a glance. When items are ordered, received and picked (on a pick list) in SI and the installation date is noted using Mobile Install, item status dates populate automatically so project managers are never in the dark when it comes to parts status. Other date fields such as date requested, date shipped, date staged and date delivered can be added and manually populated for a more comprehensive view.
Scheduling. D-Tools SI scheduling module allows installation managers to schedule out technicians, individually or in teams, on a per-project basis. Installation tasks (Work Orders) and Service Orders can be assigned to resources and organized by project phase, location, or system. These tasks and Service Orders can be assigned via our Mobile Install (MI) web-based app, which enables field technicians to manage these tasks on-site, and can also be assigned via Google or Outlook calendar.
Work Orders. Technicians at companies that routinely use work orders are typically 15-20% more productive than those at companies that have not embraced this discipline. Think about it. With a detailed list of tasks to perform when he walks on the job (along with all required drawings and documentation), a technician is productive from minute one. Without a work order in hand, a technician will walk the site to determine what needs to be done and where to start. Then, he’ll check the van for parts, likely come to realize that the parts required are not available, and be forced to re-think the plan or go get the parts. Detailed work orders are critical to field efficiency. D-Tools SI enables a disciplined work plan so technicians remain focused and productive all day every day.
Field Communication. Getting accurate reporting from the field is a constant challenge for most system integrators. Using the Mobile Install app, technicians are asked to document their every move – mark tasks completed, enter time, add site photos and notes, document serial numbers, IP addresses and MAC addresses, and even document extra work (i.e., field change orders), which can be approved on-site by the contractor. All of this information syncs back to the SI project file and is formally stored as a permanent record. Project managers are automatically notified when a task is updated or completed.
In summary, D-Tools offers a comprehensive set of tools that ensure on time and on budget delivery of your projects. Importantly, since D-Tools’ data-driven approach is integral to the entire set of project management features, change orders, purchase orders, work orders, etc. are generated quickly and easily, and the data remains linked for future tracking and archival.