Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Email Best Practices

Email has become the most common way to communicate in business.  I have picked out 10 rules that will help you communicate more effectively and concisely.
  1. Use a descriptive reference (RE:) line.  I include the name of the project so I can sort by the project names later.
  2. Write in complete sentences but keep the email short.  I like to use bullet points or numbered lists.
  3. Rename a scanned attachment.  PayApp141015.pdf is much better than Ricoh23af14.pdf.
  4. Put action items or important responses first in the email.  The assumption is that the reader will not find the action items or stop reading the email before the important stuff.
  5. Add "thanks" or appreciate your help"
  6. Try to reply within 24 hours or less.
  7. Use an active voice instead of a passive voice.  "We will be on the job on Thursday"is better than "the crew will start on Thursday".
  8. Don't send huge attachments that fill up the receiver inbox.  If it is more than 4 MB zip it or hyperlink it to a cloud storage area like Google Drive.
  9. DON'T WRITE IN ALLCAPS.
  10. Add an automatic signature line that has your name, company, address, phone and email.  This is what I use: 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

USDOT DBE Final Rule

The US DOT has published its 2014 Final Rule on the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program in the Federal Register.  A copy can be downloaded here USDOT DBE Program Final Rule 10-2-14. pdf (20.8 MB).  I think of this document as the guidelines the state DOTs including the Iowa DOT use to tailor their own DBE programs.

It does not appear that the Final Rule changes much in the DBE program.  This is more of a clarification.  A summary of the major changes is linked here 2014 DBE Final Rule Highlights.pdf (86 KB).

Reading the final rule I was reminded how in some states prime contractors are allowed up to five days to provide names, amounts and work types of the DBEs that they are planning on using.  In Iowa we have been well served by requiring prime contractors to submit their DBE commitments when they turn in their bids.  

I feel obligated to provide this document to Iowa DOT DBE firms although I have always wished that an equal amount of effort, comment, and attention was directed toward developing successful DBE companies by the DOT, prime contractors and DBEs.