Mark McClanahan spoke on this topic during a panel at the International Builders’ Show in February. The other speakers were (L to R) Todd Jackson, of Jackson Design and Remodeling; Christopher Amato, of CMM Construction; and Liza Hausman, of Houzz.
Mosby Building Arts is a 72-year-old company based in St. Louis. We saw about $15.5 million in revenue for 2018, and average about 350 projects per year. Currently we have just over 100 employees. I was named president in 2015, and prior to that served as COO.
So, we’ve always considered ourselves to be promise keepers in this business. We tell people that we’re going to do certain things at certain times, and it’s important that we adhere to those commitments. In 2011, we found that we were not living up to some of those timeline promises. Errors were being made because of duplicate entries in our system, and that showed us cracks in the foundation of our company. As Mosby grew in size and number of employees, we felt that we needed a better system than what we were using.
We went through the process of trying to work with Excel and other applications, but they weren’t living up to what we needed. So, in 2011, we decided to build our own platform.
Once we moved in that direction, it took us a little time to figure out how to get employees on board. We had trouble with adoption in the beginning, that’s for sure. What we did—and this is really important—was bring the employees themselves into the process. Someone in our IT department actually wrote the program, but he had input from many people within Mosby. He actually ended up moving on to the software industry.
We launched the application in 2012, and it’s gone through a lot of iterations since that time. The key is to involve the team. We meet every two weeks with a cross-functional group—people from our production team, marketing, accounting, sales, design, and admin. We all get together and talk about the system, the processes, and where we’re going to try to make changes. Then we get really intentional about training.
Before the software, our on=time completion rate was about 75%. Now, we average in the 90s, even as high as 96%. I attribute the increase to our software.
For anyone considering implementing a new system in their organization, whether you’re using one that’s on the market or developing software in-house, you have to be highly intentional about getting buy-in and providing training, or the application will fail.
One of the things we like about our particular system is its transparency. Prior to developing it, we were pretty opaque when it came to cross-teamwork. The ability to be transparent with the entire organization regarding the stage of the project or other information about it was a big deal to us. People ask, “Why are you so transparent?” The reason is because when information is absent, people will tell their own stories. Our answer is to provide as much information as possible, and these systems do that with the touch of a finger. It’s a multifaceted tool that covers a project from sale to completion.
We gauge the success of our system in many ways. One that stands out in my mind is the on-time completion rate of our projects. Before we implemented our software, that number was about 75%; now, we average in the 90s, even as high as 96%. I attribute the increase to the software system.
There are other measures as well, such as the hundreds of work hours that are saved. We used to do paper timesheets, but that function is automatic in the new system, and the information goes directly into payroll. And there are countless other time savings.
Another important marker for us is the ability to get information in real time. I can look at my phone and see what’s going on with the company from anywhere, at any time. The software has been crucial to our business and has helped virtually every aspect of Mosby’s operations.
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