Happy New Year.
Did you make it through 2009 alive? It certainly was a tough year. Perhaps your legal bills were more than ever before, or maybe you got by without spending much or anything at all on counsel. In either case, let’s make a resolution to avoid expensive legal bills in 2010.
How do you do it?
Ask an attorney how to avoid legal messes and expensive litigation, and they’ll likely start discussing legal precedent, contractual provisions and other technicalities. Sure, all of that stuff is important when you’re knee deep in litigation. By that point, however, you’ll already have an attorney to handle those issues.
What about before you’re knee deep in litigation; how do you avoid legal messes?
The most valuable piece of advice I give clients who ask me how to avoid legal fights and messes is to be organized.
Organization is your best friend when entering a litigation scenario. It proves your case when you’re right, and it paints a clear picture of your risk and exposure when your wrong or possibly wrong. And insofar as your contractual and legal duties are concerned, if you’re organized and know what they are, you’ll have a much better chance of fulfilling them.
Now, you’re quite lucky that it’s now 2010. That’s because the World Wide Web has been improving for over 20 years now, and it’s got a million ways to help you organize your construction business (large or small) in the new year.
Here are a few of our favorite web applications out there that can help you stay organized, and avoid legal bills and messes.
Keep Your Files Organized
Construction projects can have tons of paper exchanged. Contract documents, job specs, change orders, correspondence…the list can go on. And, to top it off, all these documents are being exchanged between you and your employees, and your subcontractors, suppliers, their subs and suppliers, the property owner…the list can go on.
How do you manage all that collaboration, and all that paper?
SugarSync: This works with PCs, Macs, on iPhones and Blackberrys, on just about anything else…and it’s easy as pie. Add a file to a folder on your computer, and it instantly gets added to that folder on everyone else’s computers. You can share files or folders with other companies, allowing them to just see the docs or edit / trash it.
The possibilities are endless, and the cost is low. This program can single-handely change the way you exchange documents on your construction project.
Box.Net: Like Sugar Sync, this is another document management system to help you organize documents to a construction project and collaborate with others on the documents. Insofar as features and collaboration are concerned, Box.net gets the edge. You can sign documents electronically, send documents via fax, edit docs, send docs via postal mail, and more…all within the box.net interface. Box.net is entirely web-based, however, meaning you can’t just drag and drop a file into a folder on your PC and let it do its magic. On the ease of use, SugarSync gets the edge.
Notice and Lien Deadline Management
It doesn’t matter if you just work in one state, or if you work in every state. Notice and lien requirements are confusing, and the effort required to comply with these requirements can feel constant. How do you keep up?
ExpressLien: Enter Express Lien. This company provides two different sets of services.
First, it helps you manage your lien and notice requirements and deadlines. You put in your project data, and it calculates your requirements and deadlines and displays it to you all on an easy to read online interface. How much? It’s free.
Second, if you want, you can order your notice and lien documents directly through Express Lien. They will take your project data, create the documents, file/send them, and keep track of all the delivery and filing data in your online profile. Document filing is done for a low flat fee.