Update: As of January 2016: The blog featuring Smartsheet is still just as popular with my clients. Nothing new to report.
Managing the scheduling of painting or remodeling projects can be a real juggling act. When I was active in my family’s painting business, the schedule seemed to adjust and change daily. Sometimes, the headaches happened when a crew called last minute and said they were not finished on a Friday and needed 2 more hours on Monday morning to finish up, and they did not call their next project to let them know they would not be there Monday morning. Without the right technology, a home improvement schedule can be one of the most painful parts of running a business.
It appears that a number of building contractors have settled on using programs like Microsoft Project over the years and have been happy with the product. I have not looked into MS Project recently, but MS Project seemed to served that niche fairly well during the years that I was active in the trade.
Yet, many painting contractors I work with and have met over the years did not or still do not use MS Project and instead rely primarily on MS Excel, Google Sheets or just a whiteboard. My dad’s company still uses a whiteboard and it works. However, the three mentioned above still are not the best option if you really want to be more efficient at scheduling and avoid some of the headaches of job shuffling when you encounter problems like inclement weather, or jobs not finishing on time.
Smartsheet is the Answer
I have written about Smartsheet in a number of previous posts. Smartsheet is a leader in the cloud computing project management world. They have built a product that can do what you have always wished a Whiteboard, MS Project, Excel and Basecamp could do if they all played nicely with each other.
When you first look at Smartsheet, you would think it is just like any other spreadsheet software. A blank sheet looks just like opening an Excel sheet. Yet underneath those columns, rows and cells are some very powerful project management tools that can help with making your scheduling quite a bit easier.
Once you customize the schedule the way you want, you can choose several ways to view the schedule: Google Calendar, Smartsheet Calendar, iCal, or as a Gantt chart.
If the job is going a few hours over or you just need to move the date, you can adjust the duration of the project. It will move all of your scheduled projects without screwing anything up! This happens when you use predecessors.
Ok. So MS Office and other scheduling programs can do durations and predecessors. What makes Smartsheet unique and better?
Smartsheet also utilizes several key features that make it a great option for scheduling painting projects. One of those features is called resource management. From one screen, you can see if you’ve under or overbooked your team.
You can also upload photos of projects, file attachments, share updates and collaborate with your team. Finally, if you want to dig deeper, you can make the scheduling program into a complete project management sheet that helps with tasks for each job. It all depends on how you want Smartsheet to work for you and your painting company.
You can create most of the sheets yourself – it is not all that complicated to learn. Yet, Smartsheet is a very powerful cloud program. The more you use it, the more you will be amazed at the things you can add down the road. The sky’s the limit for what it can do for your business. I know a number of painting companies that use Smartsheet on an advanced level for accounting, project management, job costing, project task, collaboration, web forms, hiring, training and much more.
The cost of Smartsheet is more than reasonable. It starts at just $14 a month!
If you would like help customizing Smartsheet, let me know! My team can help.