Doesn’t it feel good to throw things away? I don’t know about you, but I hate clutter. It makes me feel stressed and disorganized. Every year I resolve to clean out my office, my garage, and all the drawers and closets in the house that get cluttered over the long winter. It feels so great to actually throw things in the trash that you once found valuable.

So this year I am promoting a concept called Spring Cleaning for your business. This is where you look under the cover, peek around the corners, and discover the old habits, practices, and business management methods and tools that are no longer working for you.

I will not fool you – this is a lot of work! It takes both time and an open mind to dig into what is not working in your business, and figure out how to fix it. And it often takes courage to throw away those processes and systems that you used to depend on.

But the payoff can be significant! In my new book, Find the Lost Dollars, I demonstrate the significant cost savings and additional revenue that can be found by taking a detailed look at your business in the following nine key areas:

  • Lead and Opportunity Management
  • Proposal Processing
  • Estimating
  • Scope Control and Extra Services
  • Project Management
  • Resource Utilization
  • Billing, Collections and Cash Management
  • Technology and Systems
  • Client Relationship Management

Lots of clues can be found about what is working and not working as you look at your business differently. Just a one percent increase in the three key metrics most affected by improvement in each of these nine areas can be hundreds of thousands of dollars!

By interviewing staff, and understanding how they do their jobs each day, you can uncover some astounding issues that you did not know existed. You may find many instances where employees are wasting time working with systems and processes that require much more effort than they should. Some of the key things to look for are:

Spreadsheets – any reports being generated in Excel waste employees time, can be inaccurate and may not tie back to conventional systems.

Duplicate Data Entry – if your employees are entering the same data in more than one place, they are wasting time

Failure to use the features and capabilities of your systems – most firms use less than 20% of their automated financial management systems. You may find many ways to improve your processes using automation.

Inconsistency in the way your employees behave – take a good look at how your employees operate on a daily basis. Are they using standard operating procedures that are documented or doing whatever they feel like? Bad habits may have been allowed to form over time and can be costing you money.

Failure to have documented processes – if your employees don’t know what to do they will do whatever is easiest. This is what leads to inconsistency and reliance on spreadsheets. Both your company value and bottom line can be markedly increased by documenting your processes, training employees to follow them, and enforcing company policies.

Employees are not trained – the better your employees know how to do their jobs, the more money your business will make. This is especially true for project managers (PMs) who are touching almost every aspect of your business. By teaching your employees how the firm makes a living, and efficient ways to manage their time and daily work, you will be actually lessening their burden in performing their jobs.

Projects are losing money – ultimately the reason we are in business is to make a profit. If your projects are losing money, it can be due to many factors including bad estimating and planning, failure to utilize resources effectively, going after the wrong projects to begin with, and ineffective project management.

All of these issues noted above can be corrected. You just have to be willing to do a little spring cleaning and see what junk you should get rid of, and what gems you can find in the attic.


Do you need help implementing any of these ideas? Or just want to bounce some ideas off of someone outside of your inner circle? Reach out and let me know what your biggest challenge is, and I’ll see if I can help or point you in the right direction. 


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Learn the best practices that will propel your A&E firm to higher profits and happier employees!