I have had a keen interest in the power of writing over the years and, with the help of my daughter Amanda, I have decided to expand our writing efforts to include the publishing of our book, Process, Project, Profit - A Practitioner's Guide to the Building Industry online.

The idea came to me about a year ago when I was looking for a checklist and Amanda pulled out a book published around 1992 that offered up checklists for construction companies.

Today, the idea of publishing a paperback book of checklists for the reader to use in their business seems primeval, arduous, and a lengthy process. How inconvenient this book and others like it are in today's Internet-age, when readers can purchase online what they need to improve their job, company, or education. Think about it. Who doesn't buy online today?

More Valuable, Faster

Back when this checklist publication hit the bookshelves, if you wanted to use one of these checklists for your business, you had to first recreate the list as a computer document. Only then could this business tool become truly useful. To make it even more valuable, this file would be formatted to result in a finished document that could easily be imported into a project report, etc.

Our goal is to skip the paperback version and go directly to the Microsoft Word and Excel document version and begin to offer our ideas, experience, and lessons learned, online and chapter-by-chapter. With my son Dan's computer knowledge and ability to transform ideas into programs, and my other daughter Kim's knowledge and experience with CAD software and Microsoft products in the background, we are now able to publish online with an e-commerce connection through www.buildingsmartsoftware.com. Assuming this concept works, we will follow up our new venture with online checklists for the building industry.

This book is intended to establish basics and suggest standards and ideas that can reshape and add definition to how we go about doing our work in the building industry. We hope our venture will be a challenge to the reader to influence changes in standard specifications along the lines of Engineered Systems' "Is Your Project CMMS Ready?" Our initiative will also suggest enhancing the current and somewhat limited use of computer technology at project closeout. With everyone using computers, a publication goal is to make the book's documents computer-ready for downloading on to today's business tools: desktop, laptop, tablet, and handheld computers in the office, on site or over the Internet.

Many of my monthly columns in ES form the foundation of this concept, and we look forward to feedback from readers of the magazine as our e-commerce book is presented chapter by chapter.

A Personal Approach To Book Buying

For me personally, finishing a book, waiting for it to go to press, investing in a minimum quantity of published books, investing some more in marketing, and then waiting for the first sale can take about two years. The e-commerce approach allows a chapter worth of information to be completed and published in a month's time. It also allows potential buyers to selectively pick and pay for only those chapters that interest them. How often have you purchased a book to find that only select chapters were of interest or of use to you?

Our book begins with a strong emphasis on the "process" and how it is the roadmap to project success. The Achilles' heel for many professionals occurs when they start a job without a roadmap to project success. Each chapter will contain useful quality assurance checklists associated with the topic at hand. You can find the table of contents along with the book's introduction on www.buildingsmartsoftware.com.

In Part 2, the "project" chapters will introduce guidelines and standards for each step of the design phase. Wouldn't it be great if we could all agree upon required "deliverables" in the schematic, design development, guaranteed maximum price (GMP), and final construction document phases of a building program? We think so. We also think it is important to include facility management with in each chapter so that our concept is sustainable and doesn't overlook that portion of the building program that endures the longest.

The "profit" chapters will focuses on not only making money, but also on those inherent skills required to mentor and build a strong nucleus of professionals within the company, retain clients, and market building industry services so that the operation is profitable year after year.

On this maiden voyage, we welcome your feedback, either to us or through Engineered Systems about this interesting "next" challenge for our industry in the Internet age. ES