Congratulations. You’ve been working hard to create the sort of relationships that bring long-lasting clients to your business. Now your many labors are bearing fruit—lots of fruit, and that means that the jobs are quickly rolling in through the front door. Now you’ve got to tackle the hard part: getting the work done and delivered.
It would be fantastic if simply acquiring the work for your company was all there was to it, but it’s only the beginning. You can’t just arrange for the contracts to be signed and hope that your production staff is going to get the list of jobs and start cranking out sheets. Proper production and project delivery is a process. And like any process, it has to be managed at every step to achieve your goals.
Let’s begin with the most basic step of production management: defining your goal. It seems obvious to say, “My goal is to get the jobs out on time.” But that sort of vaguely defined goal leads to poor direction and results. We’ve got to do better than that. Your goal has to be something more specific, along the lines of, “Proactively monitoring project production on a daily basis, accounting for changes in deadlines, manpower, and the unforeseen to best allocate resources and deliver projects early whenever possible.”
You may be thinking, “That all sounds fine on paper, but I’m already doing that.” But, are you really doing that? Let’s look at seven simple best practices that will help you achieve that goal and see how you compare.
- Do your project managers have a realistic understanding of production-time requirements when creating manpower projections and proposals?
- Do you spend 15–30 minutes each day addressing production status, deadline changes, or available manpower?
- Do you have weekly production meetings involving the CAD manager, project managers, and the office manager to review project status and manpower?
- Do you have a master production schedule on a Gantt chart—such as the cost-effective Smartsheet or freemium service Gantter—that accounts for every project currently under contract? And is it clearly posted where every production-staff member can see it?
- Do you update your production schedule twice a week, adjusting for changes in deadlines?
- Do you have office standards and workflows that allow all work to be shared and shifted to minimize individual downtime?
- Do you have a master list of production supplies and check them monthly to ensure shortage in paper, toner, ink, and other vital items do not delay production?
Wherever you find professional architecture, engineering, or design offices that enjoy steady production and well-timed deliveries, you will discover that most—if not all—of these practices are in place. Even implementing just one of these practices will improve production in any office.
So, how does your office compare? If you already have most of these practices in place, then you can hold your head high. However, if you’re a bit short in comparison, don’t worry. Implementing any of these practices begins with one simple concept: communication.
With clear and proper communication, beginning with the firm leader all the way down to the production-staff member, you will naturally improve your production skills and timelines. Adding clear communication to even the most misguided of production rooms will catapult your firm from behind the eight ball to well ahead of schedule.