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Small shop PM software

Todd Wilson

Hi all,
I've been running a 3 man shop for 12 years or so. My oldest employee is ready to retire and I'm ready to bring on someone to take over most of my PM duties so that I can focus primarily on sales, drafting, etc (driving work in) and letting the new guy drive the work out.

I was thinking about using Google drive as a PM platform to upload drawings, sharing lists, etc.

What are other small shops using for project management collaboration?

7/11/18       #2: Small shop PM software ...

Hi Todd

Whilst you can't really call cloud storage Project management software I find it to be an excellent way to organise all business files.

On the project management side it's a great way to have all job related files in one place that can then be shared to any required staff.

For example I have a folder of plans for each job. So if anyone takes a job out to install and forgets the hard copy of plans they can get a set from google drive on their phone to get them through the day.

These days I think all the major cloud storage systems are much of a muchness. The thing I like about google drive is that it's truly cross platform and having the built in spreadsheets and docs ect. allows you to have live copies of all documents, again avilable to those who need them.

Another example is I have a spreadsheet setup with the paint colors for each job. Clients often give me a paint color after we have started making the the job so it's not yet in the paperwork. When it comes time to send off the parts for painting, the rule is that you don't come and ask me what the color is unless you have checked the spreadsheet and it's not yet there. Setups like this can save you from the barrage of questions you receive day to day.


As far as project management software for a small shop (I have 3 and me also). I have tried many over the years and never found anything that even closely hits the mark. They are either not specific enough to industry or far too involved so you end up spending more time maintaining the data than it's value to the operation.

In this day and age I feel cloud based and subscription based are essential.

Paying $10k + for a desktop based software system for a 3 man shop will never pay itself off and probably has too many features that would go unused anyway.
I would love to hear anyones solutions to that issue.

7/11/18       #3: Small shop PM software ...
MarkB Member

Procore is the big one here but we wind up working in whatever one the contractor we work for ships the work in. Not sure if your talking withing your own organization or if you do a lot of retail (customer interaction).

7/11/18       #4: Small shop PM software ...
Todd Wilson

That's exactly what I wanted to hear. Good to know it's working for someone else.

7/12/18       #5: Small shop PM software ...
Derrek Holland

We use Google Drive to share files. Works great. We use a paid version. They have a new platform that we tried to use but it wasn't compatible with Cabinet Vision files for whatever reason. All of our contracts and designs are saved by the designer in specific folders. They sync anytime the computer is online, so my mobile sales fuys don't have to come to the office or even send files by email..

7/12/18       #6: Small shop PM software ...
John Bishop  Member

Website: selectwoodworking.net

I’m not sure you will ever come close to utilizing the software’s capabilities. Also you may find the data entry necessary may out way the options. I’m just not sure why you are looking for project management with a (3) man shop. You must be seriously cranking out some work.

You may find it much easier, cheaper and faster to work up some spreadsheets that do what you are looking to accomplish. Or a very simple old fashioned white board on the wall. I know shops in the (10) million a year range that use the white board on the wall deal they swear by it.

Best of luck my friend.

7/12/18       #7: Small shop PM software ...
MarkB Member

I honestly cant count the times Ive had someone in the shop who has told me I need to have a "Chaulk Board" on the wall to write out the days workflow. My gosh, we are a tiny operation compared to most and I cant even imagine the work and chaos involved with having to have somoene (or me) get in before everyone else to write out the workflow on a chaulk/white board, then monitor through the day that someone didnt erase a line, or relying on workers to then have to write down what their next order of buisiness is with a pencil and paper.

My small shops workflow is managed with printed sheets that come off the printer each day for each employee. Everything beyond that is digital though we havent made the leap to that on the shop floor. But everything is printed at the start of the day and changes throughout the day.

We run google drive internally and its a phenomenal resource in that I can be out in the field taking as-built images saved directly to the drive and the shop can see them. There is no losing paper notes, confusion about who did what.

I thought the original post was with regards to dealing with the customer/contractor/client as opposed to in-house.

We have several contractors using different project management solutions and unfortunately have to accomodate those to get the work. But in house is different.

7/20/18       #8: Small shop PM software ...
Jay Member

Kind of like walking into an empty warehouse already fitted with a dust collector, air & power, but you have to put the machinery you want in it, in a working format and set up the connected systems.... It is a very functional blank slate for little money. I suspect many people just use it as a digital organizer/planner, but that does not even scratch the surface of it's power and utility. There is a free version, but the premium is so much more robust and inexpensive..... It is on my phone and desktop, amazing tool.

I wish I would have had access to this when I only had 3 people. We have about 15 now, dropped the white/chalk board, so much better. It will take you some time, perhaps a year or more depending on the time you devote to learning it. You will get more out than you put in, but you will need to invest in making it 'yours'. It took us about a year to settle on how we wanted to make it work for us. It was not our focus, at that time but we were 'working with it' to get to a point where we could really make it fly. I think even now, another year or so later we are only getting our feet good and wet as to what it can really do for us.

9/5/18       #9: Small shop PM software ...

so after reading Jays post about Asana I thought I would give it a go.

To be honest when I signed up I didn't see how it was going to satisfy the need, but a month later I have everyone on board and have been blown away by the enthusiasm.

The guys have it on their phone on the shop floor and have really taken to it.

The only thing I can't get my head around is how to assign two people to one task. i.e if I make a task for an installation I would like to let both people who are on that install know that's what they are doing on that date by assigning the job to them. as I understand it Asana doesn't allow this as it takes responsibilty away from the intended asignee, however for scheduling operations it's more logical.

Is this relevant to you Jay and have you got a workaround?


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