As a new business, delivering the job at hand is often your number one priority and thinking about process optimisation usually takes the back burner.
Spreadsheets, email back and forth, and other interim solutions enable you to get the job done and move on to the next one.
However, as your business starts to grow and increase in complexity, you’ll inevitably run into challenges that prevent your business from reaching its full potential. Manual data entry and moving information between multiple systems result in wasted time, frequent errors, and lack of visibility into your operations.
In this blog post, we introduce the concept of job management, provide a framework for how your business can view your job cycle as a whole, and start to introduce helpful processes and technology. Plus, we outline the different types of job management software so you can explore the solutions that are right for you.
What is job management?
Job management is a systematic approach to executing on all activities within the job cycle and applying insight(s) obtained from jobs to continually improve business operations.
Let’s break it down:
- Systematic approach: Job management involves the intentional application of systems, processes, and technology to the way you execute jobs so you can capture job data and optimise your workflow over time
- Execute on job cycle activities: Job management involves optimising how your organisation completes each phase of the job cycle so that you’re delivering efficient and accurate work
- Continually improve business operations: Job management involves consistently leveraging data to select, prioritise, and improve jobs to maximise organisational success and profitability
What types of businesses require job management?
Job management applies to any business that completes jobs. In this context, a job is a piece of work (often one that is paid and for a client) with specified deliverables and a defined start and end date.
Some of the most common types of businesses that apply job management to deliver services include:
- Architecture firms
- Creative & design agencies
- Construction & development services
- Engineering firms
- IT services
- Accounting and bookkeeping firms
This list is certainly not exhaustive – there are several more relevant industries and businesses (for example, landscaping, painting, wedding planners) that can use job management to organise how they work.
Stages of the job management cycle
Your job cycle consists of all the activities you do to manage jobs. Job management requires businesses to think about the job cycle as a cohesive system, rather than a collection of isolated tasks, with the goal of increasing efficiency between stages.
Seeing that each business is unique, everyone’s job cycle will look a little different (some businesses may rely more on estimates, while others may only use price quotes). Plus, if you’re a newer business, there may be some parts of the job cycle that you have yet to implement – such as employee time tracking or performance reporting. However, most professional services businesses complete a standard set of activities to manage jobs.
It’s important to note that these stages do not need to happen in sequential order, and many can be underway at the same time. In addition, data collected at one stage is often necessary to carry out another activity further on in the cycle (for example, timesheet management and work-in-progress management).
Defining your business’s job management cycle
As mentioned, every business's job management cycle is different. Taking time to define your job management cycle will be helpful for understanding activities that might be happening inefficiently (and therefore would benefit from thoughtful processes and/or the right technology to better manage).
Below, we've outlined the ten key stages of the typical job cycle and some considerations that accompany each stage. Use these as a starting point for defining your own job management cycle:
- Lead & customer relationship management: How does your team track activity related to leads? How do you capture lead data from your website and use that data to create quotes or estimates? How does your business manage all contacts in your database?
- Quote, estimate & budget management: How do you convert an accepted quote or estimate into an active job? How do you measure whether you’re tracking on budget to meet your quoted or estimated price?
- Task management: How do you assign tasks to employees? How do your employees know which tasks they’ve been assigned and how much time should be allocated to each job? How is your team managing upcoming, in progress, on hold, or cancelled jobs?
- Timesheet management: How do you track employee time and allocate it to the correct job? How do you use employee timesheet data to understand productivity rates?
- Purchases & cost management: How do you track and allocate costs to jobs and on-cost to the customer, when applicable? How do you track purchase orders and sync bills to your accounting system?
- Scheduling & capacity management: How do you schedule tasks to employees to maintain optimal utilisation rates? How do you know if your team has capacity to take on future projects?
- Work-in-progress (WIP) management: How do you ensure that all your current jobs get invoiced out? How do you identify and fix issues before the job is complete?
- Email & document management: How does your team manage documents and share all information related to a client or job?
- Invoice, payments & reconciliation management: How do you invoice and collect payment from clients? How do you sync financial data to your accounting system?
- Reporting: How do you report on jobs and get insight into your most profitable and least profitable clients? How do you measure employee productivity? How do you know if your jobs are running on budget?
Without the right tools, managing your job cycle may seem overwhelming but with job management software it becomes a whole lot easier.
What is job management software?
Job management software refers to the suite of available platforms and solutions designed to provide businesses with tools to manage a few or all stages of their job cycle (as discussed above).
Key benefits of cloud-based job management software
Job management software is increasingly becoming a core part of the professional services business technology stack – some of its many benefits include:
- Streamlined systems and increased process efficiency
- Accurate and real-time data capture
- Seamless flow of data throughout the entire job cycle
- Critical business insight into all aspects of your jobs
- Easy collaboration between team members
Types of job management software
There are many different types of job management software, and the solution you choose depends on your team’s unique needs and budget. Defining your job cycle will help you gain a better understanding of your business needs and job management requirements.
Given the vast (and potentially confusing) app landscape, we’ve looked at the most widely used job management solutions and established five main categories that will help you understand your options and identify the type of solution that is right for you:
- Micro & accounting-bundled: Some accounting solutions (like Xero) have basic job management solutions bundled right into the application. These solutions are a great way for small businesses to start out (usually suited for five employees or fewer), but offer limited functionality as your business grows.
- Workflow specialists: Solutions in this category focus on a particular type of workflow which is difficult to adapt to other ways of working, and are therefore suited to a limited range of business types. For example, field service technicians need specific technology to run their business such as geo-tracking, on-site invoicing and payments, and electronic signature capture.
- Functionality specialists: These solutions focus on one or a few stages of the job management cycle (for example, quoting, task management, or time tracking). While they offer great functionality in their area, businesses need to combine multiple products to cover all the activities in the job cycle.
- Industry specialists: Some job management solutions are tailored to meet the needs of one specific industry. These solutions usually cover the entire job cycle and offer additional industry-specific features (such as client conflict of interest search for law practices). Due to their higher price point, industry-specific solutions are most often considered by large, mature businesses with very specific needs.
- Generalist job management systems: End-to-end job management solutions offer functionality for the entire job cycle, and are flexible and adaptable to suit a wide variety of businesses. Solutions in this category vary in terms of feature functionality and price point – the trick is choosing the solution that strikes the right balance between needs and budget.
Is WorkflowMax right for my business?
WorkflowMax is an end-to-end job management solution with functionality to serve the entire 10-stage job cycle. With its highly customisable features, WorkflowMax is a great fit for a wide range of industries – from architecture to creative agencies.
WorkflowMax enables you to manage all jobs, tasks, and people in one place –including the ability to:
- Track leads, proposals, and sales projections
- Send professionally branded and customisable quotes
- Track and report on employee time
- Create templates for jobs, quotes, reports, and more
- Report on performance, productivity, and performance
The best way to determine if WorkflowMax is right for you is to sign up for a 14-day free trial and experience firsthand how it can help your business.
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