Client Data Master (CDM) — Cradle to Grave

There has been at least a size No. 4 bag of bad jokes about “paper work,” so I’ll try not to add to them. The simple fact is that whether it’s electronic or No. 2 pencil on the back of a place mat, adequate records often determine the success of our endeavors. We explored last month the value of simplifying the CDM, or Client Data Master, with a one-page form. Does it work? Yes, it has for 15 years for me. Will it work for you? Probably or something like it because the information on the CDM is important data and needs to be kept. The form is a good prompt for what you need.

Type of Project. This area immediately below Project Information was adopted originally for use by clients on the Internet to distinguish their type of project. It was only mildly successful. This area can be cleared and used for other information or just deleted.

Ops Records. This information may look too basic to record, but each of these represents a potential activity that can add time and administrative cost to a project. Financing can take as much as 90 days, and most lenders will want to see a final cost from you as a contractor. Time may be needed for approval by a particular lender, or you may need to prepare financial statements for the lender. These are both a cost in time and money that needs to be noted.

Estimate and Schedule. Many seemingly unconnected issues can affect both the cost estimate and the production schedule. For example, determining the early start may not be an issue if the client says “as soon as possible” because that meshes well with your capacity. However, consider what happens if their answer is “not before July 31,” and this leaves you with a big hole in the production schedule. What if the Req’d Completion Date will require some overtime to meet? These are significant episodes that need consideration in both your decision to quote and, of course, your proposal.

Construction Contract. What did we charge, how long did we take, did we maintain our gross margin, how many dollars of change orders were made, and was the job finished on schedule? This little Q & A session gives off the information we use for job cost, personnel review, bank financial reports, lead cost analysis and how we will pursue the referrals that are apt to come from this completed job.

Comparable Information. This straight-forward information is needed by your company to analyze the efficacy of your estimate, sales abilities, scheduling and production efficiency. Of course this information is always with the job file, but doesn’t it make sense to have the entire job record primary information available in a single, easy-to-reach location?

The CDM becomes somewhat more benign during design and construction since for these activities only milestones are recorded on it — such things as the amount of the contract when designed, the date, duration of construction, amount of the final contract which shows total amount of change or additional work orders.

We went a bit further and showed the gross margin at which the job finished and the effective square footage of the job as completed. These latter bits of data are of value when tracking the efficacy of leads, comparable performance of salespeople and production people. Depending upon the expertise of your company and its interest in trends or some of the more subtle issues of interest to management, the CDM can be a treasure trove of hints and a least a few conclusions, all of which are on one page, while you’re here . . .