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June 29th, 2016

psu-2016-austinSign-up now for the 2016 Presidential/Super User (PSU) Summit.

Explore the live music capital of the world from Westin’s downtown location. The Westin Austin Downtown Hotel is one of the premiere downtown Austin hotels, located one block from the Austin Convention Center and the 6th Street Entertainment District, just footsteps to the latest foodie hotspots, historic sites, legendary live music venues, eclectic shops and year-round outdoor fun.

See details listed below…..

DATE:  Thurs. November 17th, 2016  thru  Fri. November 18th, 2016

TIME: Thurs. | 7:30am-3:30pm    Fri. | 7:30am-11:30am

HOTEL & MEETING:  Westin Austin Downtown Hotel, Austin, Texas

Group rate: $244.00  or  call Westin Sales Department at 512-391-2333, using the Group Name, DATAFORMA.  (Limited space, so don’t delay!!)
***Please book rooms by Friday, October 21st, 2016 before the room block ends.***

AIRPORTS:  Austin-Bergstrom International Airport | 9 miles from the hotel

REGISTRATION:  ALL attendees must be registered with Dataforma to attend.  Please complete the form below.  PSU Meeting is complementary to Dataforma users.  Attendees will be responsible for travel and accommodations fees.

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businessman typing on a laptop

As a field service management company, you need to successfully manage your team to experience the greatest profits. With the right field service software, you can get an all-in-one solution that makes the task easier, streamlines your operation and improves customer service.

More companies are making the switch to field management software every day because it can fix some of the biggest problems plaguing the industry, such as:

– Poor customer service
– Underused equipment and idle technician time
– Out-of-control costs
– Low technician productivity
– Safety concerns
– Disorganized job history and data

Dataforma offers a more effective way to streamline your field service operation — and we do it by customizing our software to meet the unique needs of your specific industry.

Read on to learn more about how the best field service management software can improve your bottom line.

Field Service Software for Small Business: How Other Companies Are Benefiting from Advanced Solutions


Field service software is no longer behind the scenes. Some businesses, like Uber, use their field service management software as one of their main selling points. In fact, half of all businesses that implement a field service program use it for customer alerts.

businessman holding a pen in front of his computer

Businesses depend on the best field service management software to improve productivity. In fact, 97 percent of field service management software users said that the software had made an impact on how their business operated. Companies said that the number of jobs they could finish in a day increased by 47 percent.

business person writing in a notebook

6 Benefits of Field Service Management Software for Small Business


Field Service Management (FSM) programs have many benefits for construction companies. It can help you schedule more jobs and complete repairs more efficiently.

There are many field service software programs available, and more available all the time. The types of features you need vary by industry. However, with the best field service management software, you can:

1. Schedule Appointments More Efficiently

Scheduling issues are one of the biggest problems for both technicians and dispatchers. FSM software offers real-time scheduling, which alerts technicians immediately when a new job is scheduled.

Most FSM software also lets you optimize appointment bookings. With this feature, you’ll be able to plan the best route between jobs. If you use Windows to schedule appointments, appointment optimization can help your technicians determine the most efficient order for completing jobs.

2. Match Jobs to Technicians’ Skills

A mismatch between the job’s requirements and a technician’s skill is a problem for both the company and the tech. In fact, it’s one of the biggest concerns that field technicians raise.

Field service software often includes a skill management feature. You’ll be able to input your technicians’ skills and make notes about their training. When you schedule a job, you can look at skill sets to make sure that the tech you’re scheduling has the right training.

3. Capture Critical Information in One Location

Lack of information is one of the biggest obstacles for construction, HVAC, and other field service management businesses. With field service management software, you can keep this information in a centralized location.

Technicians can use their app to see job history and related tasks. They can also upload photos or documents while they’re working and use the software to view schematics and real-time parts inventory.

4. Improve Time Keeping

Both technicians and managers can benefit from easier time keeping. Too often, technicians need to enter hours worked at the end of a day or other period.

With FSM software, technicians can quickly update their timesheets while on the job. You’ll have a better breakdown of how much time techs spend on each job, and finishing payroll with be faster.

5. Use Tasks to Keep Technicians on Time

Many field management programs allow businesses to create task breakdowns for different types of jobs. Although this will take more work upfront, it’s well worth the time invested.

Detailed task breakdowns help technicians stay on time. It also helps them ensure that all of the tasks needed for a repair have been made. Both of these can improve customer satisfaction and lower the chance that you’ll need multiple appointments to complete a repair.

6. Access Reports on a Technician’s Jobs

Electronic reports can help you see big-picture trends in a technician’s work. This can help you identify issues, identify train
ing needs and keep track of an employee’s contributions to the company.

7. Improve Customer Communication

Many field service programs include customer alerts, a consumer portal or mobile apps for customers. All of these features can help you provide better customer service. Many small businesses consider service alerts a valuable feature in their field service software. In fact, about half of all businesses use this function to notify customers of changes in their job.

alarm clock

Are There Downsides to Not Switching to Field Service Management Software?


Even with these benefits, it’s common for business owners to wonder if they really need to switch to FSM software. Although your business can survive without it, the benefits of switching clearly outweigh the costs.

If you’ve been dealing with scheduling issues for a while, you may be used to them. By allowing them to continue, however, you’ll miss out on the increased productivity and revenues that a field service app can help you achieve.

Businesses who did make the switch not only reversed these trends, but they also saw positive growth. This positive growth came from streamlining their services and providing better customer support. Out of the businesses that did make the switch to FMS software:

– 90% increased the number of customers they won with their quotes
– 86% lowered their fuel costs
– 83% had invoices paid more quickly
– 82% improved their first-time fix rate
– 79% were able to make more customer visits per day

Businesses that aren’t using field service software can miss out on these benefits. These businesses will need to spend more time and money to achieve the same results that companies using FMS experience.

three thumbs up

For other businesses, FSM software does more than free up time and money — it can help you reverse negative trends. Have customers started to complain about a lack of communication or late technicians? Field service software for small businesses can help you provide better customer service.

4 Signs That It’s Time to Consider Using Field Service Software


Many companies start out using Excel or a simple database to track their jobs. This is particularly common in small companies. If you have just a few field technicians, justifying field service software can be hard.

However, many companies see improvements when they switch to an FSM. In fact, small businesses can experience some of the biggest benefits of switching.

Is it time to upgrade your spreadsheet to a more efficient and robust field tracking solution? Ask yourself if your field services company is experiencing:

1. Errors in Accounting or Job Notes

Using a spreadsheet to track jobs often leads to bad accounting. This is particularly true as a business grows. Look for signs such as:

– Field service techs spending shift time to enter notes from jobs
– Mistakes when paper receipts and notes are entered into the system
– Accounting errors found during audits
– Complicated paper trails

Many of these errors are the result of transcription difficulties. Because there’s a gap between jobs being completed and notes being entered, it’s common for techs to struggle to “fill in the blanks.” If paper receipts have been lost or damaged, it’s even harder to get an accurate account of a job.

Cloud-based FSM software lets techs enter notes and track time while they’re on the job. That means there’s no need to decipher bad handwriting. There’s also no concerns about forgetting an important part of a morning job when they enter details at the end of the day.

2. Poor Customer Satisfaction

customer service representative

Customer satisfaction can be an indicator of problems with scheduling. This is particularly true if customer satisfaction is dropping at the same time your company is growing.

If customers are complaining about the following issues, it may be time to switch to field service software:

– Late arrivals
– Incomplete repairs
– Late or no response to emergency calls

Many of these issues are the result of poor scheduling and job management. Poor scheduling means that technicians show up late to jobs, are rushed on the job site and are left with too much idle time between jobs.

Electronic scheduling and GPS tracking help fix these issues. In addition, many companies use the program to send alerts about the job to the customer. Customers who know when their technician will arrive are happier.

3. Repairs Take Multiple Visits

It’s inevitable for some repairs to require multiple visits. When two or three visits for a simple repair becomes the norm, it’s time to consider using software to simplify repairs.

There are several potential causes for this problem. Do your technicians need additional information about customer history to complete the job? Without electronic access, techs may need to go to the office to get this information. This can slow down repairs significantly.

Do technicians require multiple visits because they don’t have the parts needed to make a repair? Trouble locating parts is often the result of poor recordkeeping. If your technicians can access an inventory of parts and their location in the field, they’ll be able to complete jobs faster.

Diagnostic trouble can also cause repairs to take longer. If your technicians need to reschedule jobs because they don’t have the right diagnostic equipment, it’s time to consider field service software. Some of this software has diagnostic tools built in. Others include a history of previous diagnostic reports in the client notes. Both can speed up the time needed to complete a fix.

4. Difficulty Scheduling Technicians for New Jobs

Visibility is one of the biggest problems for growing companies. If you don’t know where your technicians are or what jobs they’re working on, it may be time to upgrade your technology.

Many companies struggle with scheduling challenges as they grow. Calling your technicians isn’t always the right answer, either. Technicians who are on the phone with the dispatcher aren’t spending that time with customers.

customer service representative on headset

Many field service software programs solve this by offering electronic scheduling. You’ll be able to schedule a technician’s next job on a map, and electronically alert him of the location. Because many of these programs have GPS built in, techs can alert you or a client if they’re running late.

How Long Does It Take to Learn How to Use an FSM Program?


2-6 weeks calendar

Time is one of the biggest obstacles for many small businesses. Selecting and learning to use a field service manager doesn’t take long, though.

A survey of businesses that use field service software showed that most businesses needed just a few weeks to select the right field service software. Most companies are up and running on their new software in under six weeks. Nearly three-quarters of all companies that started using an FSM had it installed and completed training on it within two to six weeks.

Ease of use is critical, especially if you’re new to using field service software. So, it’s no surprise that 74 percent of companies cited ease of use as the number one reason they selected their field management program.

Expect a learning curve when you begin using field management software, but it should be short-lived. Within a month, most companies find that the increased functionality — and improved productivity — makes this learning curve worthwhile.

person on their mobile device

Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Field Service Manager


Many factors affect your choice of field service software. These include how the software functions, how much it costs, and who will use it. Even your comfort level with new technology can play a role in your choice.

When choosing a program, ask yourself the following questions:

What Types of Functionality Do I Need?


The first — and most important — question for most businesses is what your field management software should do. Most field management software will allow you to schedule technicians electronically and access customer records on the job site.

Consider what other features you’d like your field service software to have. Most businesses want to be able to:

– Use electronic signatures
– Create quotes online
– Match technician skills with jobs
– Electronically order new inventory
– Upload photos or documents
– Use customer portals
– Automatically invoice
– Automatically time track

In addition, many businesses want their field manager to integrate with other types of software. For instance, some businesses may want to connect their technician’s time tracking directly with their accounting software.

Not all programs have all of these features. The best programs can be customized to meet your business’s needs. If you’re not sure whether a particular program is right for you, ask the provider whether it can be customized.

Once you’ve developed a list of what your software needs to be able to do, you’ll be better equipped to find the right field service program for your business.

How Will I Host My Field Service Management Software?


Most field service programs are easy to use. That means that one of the biggest challenges most companies face is deciding how they’d like to deploy the FMS system.

You may have several options. For example, you may be able to:

1. Host Your Software on Site

The first option is to host your FSM on site. Hosted software is usually installed on a server in your offices. You’ll often purchase hosted software outright.

Hosting your FSM may offer you more security and peace of mind. If a business is hosting their own software, they’re usually also able to make more changes and customization to the program.

However, you’ll be responsible for maintaining the system and upgrading it if needed. If you’re not tech-savvy, you’ll need to hire someone to maintain it for you.

2. Subscribe to Cloud-Based Field Service Management Software

The second option is to subscribe to a cloud-based FSM system. Cloud-based software is usually hosted by the company providing it. Unlike hosted FSM systems, you won’t be responsible for maintenance or upgrades. The software company will take care of these for you. The hosting company also takes care of information security and data backups.

You’ll pay a subscription fee to use the software, usually monthly. You’ll frequently see cloud-based FSM software referred to as a SaaS, or software as a subscription.

From a technician’s point of view, there are few differences between hosted and cloud-based FSM programs. Both can be accessed via a webpage or mobile app.

How Will You Access Your Software?


To select the right program, you’ll need to know who will be accessing your field manager and how they want to access it. Most field service programs are accessed via a web-based application. This application usually provides the widest range of features. You’ll do most of your initial setup from the site, including inputting tasks associated with different types of jobs. If your technicians primarily work on their Internet-connected phones or tablets, a web-based application might be the best choice.

It’s a good idea to make sure that the software you’re considering has a mobile app for technicians. Mobile apps may not have the full suite of tools that are available on desktop, but they make up for this by providing a good user interface that puts the most important tools at your technicians’ fingertips.

Having access to a mobile app for your field service software may be a deciding factor. For instance, we recommend that all of our customers at roofing, electrical, and HVAC businesses use a mobile app. That’s because it’s easy to take with you while you’re on the job, and you’ll be able to quickly note safety issues or review schematics.

person using their mobile device

You may also want to consider a customer portal or customer app. A customer portal can make a big difference in their experience with your company. Your customers will be able to use it contact you for support, check on the progress of your job or pay bills online.

Find out more about our field service webpages and mobile apps.

Field Service Management Software Comparison: On Site or in the Cloud


In the past, many companies hosted their field service management software themselves. Businesses thought that outright purchase meant that the cost of owning and running the software was lower. They were also able to customize the software more.

This is no longer the case. Many cloud-based systems are customized to meet a business’s needs. Some on-site software programs are switching to annual or quarterly licenses instead of a one-time purchase. You can use an online calculator to compare the total cost of hosting your own program versus subscribing to one.

You may also want to consider information security when deciding whether to self-host or subscribe to a cloud-based field service program. Field service programs are often full of valuable information. GPS data, customer contact information and billing information can all be contained in it.

Many small businesses choose to subscribe to a cloud-based FSM program because of the added security it offers. With an on-site FSM, you’ll be responsible for backing up and protecting information. Subscription FSM programs may offer you more security.

For instance, Dataforma offers data encryption, backups, and security fail-safes with our program for field service management companies. We even protect our data against natural disasters. This can give you added peace of mind that your information is protected and available when you need it.

Find out more about what our field service software can do for your business!

The Benefits of Implementing Business Management Software in the Construction Industry


the benefits of implementing business management software in the construction industry

Construction doesn’t feel like a digital industry. You’re in dusty, dirty, hazardous environments where hardhats come standard. Twenty years ago, there was no computer that could safely join you on the job.

Today everything has changed, and nearly all of your workers are packing a computer in their pocket. Smartphones have become an industry standard, and that means everyone is connected. It’s time you put all of that computing power to use to improve your workflow, employee efficiencies, inventory management and even your project billing.

Construction business management products allow your operations to keep everyone connected, generate checklists for your workflows and keep everything organized. Inject visibility into your operations at every level. Staying on budget and never running out of inventory are two incredible benefits business management software delivers starting shortly after implementation.

But of all the reasons to use construction business management software, none may be as important as getting rid of manual processes that are prone to errors. They can cripple any construction business, and they often do. Let’s start with the benefit of digital backups as the first of many reasons to use construction business management software.

construction business management products

Reasons to Use Construction Business Management Software


Pen and paper are construction staples for everything from contracts and inventory management to accounting and final invoices. These processes are susceptible to human errors, lost pages, slow filing and retrieval and even information loss when a pen breaks, coffee spills or the wind picks up at your site.

You can protect your business by making daily operations simpler and more profitable when you adopt construction business management software. Digital copies of documents allow you to quickly search and find what you need, plus you can save multiple versions so you’re protected when things change or projects slow.

Remove the typical hassles of having construction managers call in for approvals on materials or provide status updates by using construction business management products that allow everyone to make updates as needed. You can also keep important documents and permits on site but provide your entire operation with a copy when needed. Project building, work orders and other important papers can be just a click away with a cloud-based platform.


Construction Business Management Solutions


save time and money with smart business platform

Each job has specific crew and service foreman requirements. Reasons to use construction business management software include the ability to create reports and schedules so that your teams are always ready.

Paper schedules posted in the main office require everyone to check in daily or weekly. Managers who need to make a change have to call all parties involved, moving down the list until they’ve located a substitute. This has to be checked against master lists, and leaders need to run changes up through their management, who may or may not be immediately available.

On the other hand, construction business management solutions can automate much of that by creating rules for replacements and giving everyone access to all of the information for each job site. Whenever you need to make a substitution, just update the calendar and click to deliver a note to impacted parties. Save time and improve your operations by making the scheduling process simpler.

Construction business management solutions even let you create individual calendars. You can pick a meeting time whenever everyone is free based on their general availability as well as recent job site trends. Centralized calendars also allow your HR teams to record individual and personal days so they’re easy for everyone to see and create events that can be sent to the appropriate people.

Sort all of your work based on building location, type of work, next-step requirements and more to optimize your schedule and crews in the most logical way.


Mobile Construction Business Management Products


A chief reason for you to use construction business management software is that it gives you access no matter where you are. Old paper systems can’t be updated from the field and require you to call in information or return to a master document to make changes.

Mobile applications have changed all of that, allowing everyone to stay on the same page. Connect your project management platforms to all of your team leads to give them the power they need. Order materials as soon as they’re needed, request document changes when errors are discovered or immediately call for engineers or electricians if you’re ahead of schedule.

Mobile apps can also ensure that project contacts, invoices, purchase orders, work history and job site checklists are in the hands of everyone. Maintain your safety and productivity records by giving each worker the power the need.


Cloud-Based Construction Project Management Software


A big benefit of field service software comes from the fact that cloud systems can update everyone and every installation all at once. Data you enter gets sent out immediately. Your accountants, schedulers and production teams all are working from the latest, most accurate information so your operations run smoothly and efficiently.

In general, construction project management software tends to be a simpler experience because you can combine multiple operations and modules into a single dashboard. Each job can get its own location where your documents, warranties, inventories, costs and invoices are all located. You save time every day simply by having less searching to do.

When you come up against a complex project, you can roll in subcontractors and third-parties into that same location. Create a historical reference for each project, track changes in costs and time estimates and review everything on a single timeline when the job is done. Uniform access is one of the top benefits of field service software.

A cloud-based system gives everyone on your team access to that single location where they can understand your project. For management, this also delivers an easy way to review the success of a project and determine how successful your bid was.

Dataforma has created a platform that’s specifically designed to work with multiple teams. Our solution is custom-tailored to larger departments with reports and analysis for:

– Executive management
– Office support staff
– Project managers
– Sales
– Service
– Subcontractors
– HR and accounting

Your business depends on making the most of each project, and cloud platforms make valuation analysis quick and accurate.


Use Field Service Software to Automate Your Progress


Every construction task contains a specific list of steps. A good foreman knows these by heart and ensures that their team completes each one before moving forward. When you’re dealing with large sites or complex elements, this best practice can become time-consuming.

A reason to use field service software is that your foreman can monitor each step and verify that it has been completed from a central location. A cloud workflow will give your foreman the ability to approve, reject or flag each step. Workers who complete projects can post test results or even photos to a centralized job file to help management verify proper steps are being followed.

You can save time and money with a smart platform and even protect your business by building this digital process trail for auditing. Workflows create a single document you can send to customers if they have questions about your work policies. Ensure everything is up-to-code and special requirements are followed as the work is completed.

Construction business management products are also designed to follow rules and generate warnings when anything is skipped. Everyone involved with a project and its review can get notifications when any action is needed.

You get data on every step and have an automated pair of eyes to help you maintain worksite productivity, OSHA compliance and adherence to every element required for special projects. When the project is finished, construction business management solutions also deliver a full report so you can keep improving with each new, lucrative job.

Time and again, our customers tell us that automation is the most cost-saving benefit of field service software.


Benefits of Construction Management Software


A chief reason your competitors are turning to construction business management products is that they are reducing the time it takes to make bids, track jobs, bill clients and track overall costs for each job. You can have a better understanding of your business and which products are most profitable when you’re able to look at everything in a single location.

Learn the true cost of each job simply by employing construction project management software.

Managing your books is often the most difficult part of running a strong construction business. Many accounting professionals are masters of their craft, but their exposure to the construction industry itself is limited. Pairing their expertise with construction business management software can help your team determine which projects had been your most profitable, when you had the best on-the-job performance and even what tactics slow you down.

Construction business management solutions support this advanced learning by helping you organize each entity, operation or job into its own category so you can review them separately. Compare these elements across your accounts receivables and payables to generate a customized database for your team. Smart services like those offered by Dataforma will also give each unit or job a message board so all of your management teams are kept in the loop.

Other accounting benefits that business management software delivers include:

– A central place to review client accounts and cash receipts, with search optimized for speed and accuracy
– Ability to create and issue purchase orders specific to a job from any Internet-connected device
– Method to generate logistics reports that facilitate inventory management for each location or job
– Opportunity to track fixed assets and equipment with the ability to sort by inventory requirements, value and more


Manage Your Bids Through Field Service Software


Bid management has become a larger part of the accounting equation in recent years because construction business management software makes it easy to review costs in relation to expectations.

Using construction project management software, you can generate your bids and autofill common fields to create the most accurate bid possible. You can then compare this to costs after you finish a job to see how accurate you were. A single, smart construction business management product will give you guidance on what cost more or less than you expected.

You can also experience smoother operations when you have a platform that moves with you from bid through job acceptance. By picking a secure, cloud-based system you can update everything at once and share status information with your clients. Visibility will keep your teams on track and highlight potential savings areas.

construction project manager

A single platform that can move with you from making a bid on a project through its completion, with the ability to find where you were right and wrong, is one of the key reasons to use construction business management software.


Benefits of Proprietary Business Management Software


You now understand the business reasons to use construction business management software. Your next choice is what type of system to implement. Dataforma suggests you select a system built specifically for the construction industry, because that platform will meet and anticipate your needs.

The team at Software Advice takes that recommendation one step further and says you’ll be happier when you choose a paid, proprietary construction business management solution. According to their interviews with business owners and software teams, proprietary software gives you the benefit of strong support and vendor training, specific capabilities as soon as you fire up the software and consistent updates that are tested before release.

Their surveys found that 87% of companies who use a proprietary system would recommend it, compared to the 55% of people who would say the same for free or open-source platforms. People who used proprietary systems were happier in every element of the survey, including available features, usability, reliability, support and cost, with 69% of proprietary software users indicating they’re completely satisfied.

Another important element of proprietary software is that it lets you keep your staff working on products relevant to your business. Small companies often don’t have the strength to create and troubleshoot open-source options, while large companies are best able to use IT staff for customer projects.

If you’re adopting your first construction project management software platform, you’ll also want to take advantage of the training and support that vendors like Dataforma provide.

percentages about different platforms

Discover Why So Many Are Choosing Dataforma


Professional construction companies and roofing contractors have been turning to Dataforma’s core, customer and mobile services to operate more efficiently. They’re saving money, gaining a better understanding of their workflow and easily reviewing projects to make their next bidmore effective.

You can maximize your profitability and minimize subcontractor costs with a cloud-delivered solution designed to eliminate costs associated with multiple software purchases. We support a variety of devices and give everyone access so you can get your team on the same page without having to pay for each install.

A Web portal and smartphone apps give you around-the-clock support so that you and your management teams can react to job site problems as soon as they arise. Rules can even govern who gets emergency notifications for each job, team or location, reducing the time it takes to get the correct response deployed.

By offering a streamlined, unified platform that governs the most common construction needs, Dataforma gives you the only cloud tool you’ll need to achieve operational efficiency for management, crews and materials. It’s one of our favorite benefits construction management software can deliver to your organization. Additional benefits include:

– Data protection systems that secure your information in the event of natural or manmade disasters
– Controlled user access and 128-bit data encryption
– IT support and multiple fail-safe points
– Apps for iPhones, Androids and other devices
– Special portals for building owners and outside consultants
– Hourly backup options with 24/7 monitoring and recovery

Contact us to take your first steps toward a more profitable, simpler project management with the Dataforma platform.

Staying on Top: Roofing Safety 101


roofing safety tips 101


Chances are, you won’t have to go very far to find someone in the construction industry to agree with this statement: Construction is dangerous. Inside and outside the industry, it’s clear that working on an active job site means coming in close contact with dangerous situations on a daily basis. If you’re not properly prepared, those situations can easily escalate to life threatening.

At Dataforma, we’re committed to supplying roofing contractors with cloud-based software that enables them to operate more efficiently. Efficiency, however, has to go hand-in-hand with safety. That’s why we’ve compiled roofing safety guidelines from across the industry, including regulations and standards from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA).


By the Numbers


The leading cause of fatalities in the entire construction industry is falls. According to OSHA, falls accounted for 3,500 fatalities between 2003 and 2013. Of those 3,500 fatalities, 34% (or 1,200 fatalities) were the result of falls from roofs.

Roofing contractors are faced with dozens of hazards every time they step foot on a job site, from inclement weather to hazardous substances. As an employer, the safety of your employees is paramount. You wouldn’t send your team to a job site without any tools, so why would you send them without the proper safety training? At the end of the day, both are crucial elements to ensuring your project gets done right.


roofing falls accounted for 34% of 3,500 fatalities between 2003 and 2013

Construction Site Safety: Guidelines & Practices


In 2013, OSHA compiled a list of the standards frequently cited during their inspections of roofing contractors:

Rank By Number of Citations Issued Categories Standard
1 Duty to have fall protection 1926.501
2 Ladder Safety 1926.1053
3 Fall Protection Training 1926.503
4 Eye and Face Protection 1926.102
5 General Scaffold Requirements 1926.451
6 General Safety and Health Provisions 1926.20
7 Head Protection 1926.100
8 Fall Protection Systems Criteria and Practices 1926.502
9 Ladder Training Requirements 1926.1060
10 Hazard Communication 1926.59


Let’s take a closer look at some of the safety requirements in roofing jobs. The following are just some examples of the types of OSHA roofing safety and fall regulations out there. Always refer to OSHA when preparing your project-specific safety plan.


OSHA Roof Safety: Fall Protection


When a fatality is caused by a fall, 90 percent of the time, the individual did not have a fall-protection system in place. That is a staggering statistic that highlights the crucial role fall protection plays in your overall safety plan.



The first step is to assess whether or not the workplace will be able to structurally support your workers. This is the responsibility of the employer, and it must happen before work can begin. If a fall hazard is identified, the employer must select one or more fall-protection options to ensure the worker’s safety. Some examples of fall hazards include instances where a worker is exposed to a workplace height of six feet or higher or when a workplace includes roof holes like skylights.

According to OSHA, here are some examples of roofing fall protection options for job sites:


Guardrail Systems

Safety-Net Systems

Personal Fall Arrest (PFA) Systems


Covers – 1926.502(i)


Covers are great solution for when workers face workplaces with roof holes. In order for covers to be effective, however, they must meet the following standards:

– Support, at a minimum, twice the weight of the workers, equipment and materials utilizing the cover (29 CFR 1926.502(i)(2)).

– Have secured installation points to eliminate the possibility of the cover coming undone from weather, workers or equipment (29 CFR 1926.502(i)(3)).

– Be marked and/or color coded so there’s a clear hazard warning, like “HOLE” or “COVER” (29 CFR 1926.502(i)(4)).


Guardrail Systems – 1926.502(b)


Guardrail systems are another highly effective way to protect workers from roof openings as well as roof perimeters. Some of the criteria for operating an OSHA-approved guardrail system include the following:Top rails must be installed between 35 and 49 inches above the walking/workplace surface

– Top rails must be installed between 35 and 49 inches above the walking/workplace surface (29 CFR 1926.502(b)(1)).

– Midrails, screens or other intermediate structural members must be installed in the case where no wall/parapet is at least 21 inches high (29 CFR 1926.502 (b)(2)). When required, midrails must be installed halfway between the top edge of the guardrail system and the walking/workplace surface (29 CRF 1926.502 (b)(2)(i)).

– Balusters, or other intermediate members, cannot be installed more than 19 inches apart when utilized between posts.

– All guardrail systems must have the ability to withstand 200 pounds of applied force within two inches of the top edge, in both outward and/or downward directions (29 CFR 1926.502(b)(3)). If the top edge of the system’s height deflects less than 39 inches above the walking/workplace level, the system is not in acceptable working condition.

– I n the case of midrails, screens, mesh and other structural members, these pieces must have the ability to withstand 150 pounds of applied force in both outward and/or downward directions (29 CFR 1926.502(b)(5)). Unlike guardrails, these systems must be able to withstand this force at any point along the system. Additionally, toeboards must be able to withstand a minimum of 50 pounds.

– When using guardrail systems around holes that are acting as access points (as would be the case with ladderways), the worker must use a gate or offset the access point to eliminate the fall hazard.


Safety-Net Systems – 1926.502(c)


In situations where safety-net systems are required, the safety-net should be installed under the walking/workplace surface, as close as possible without obstructing worker’s passageways. When installing, make sure to check that safety-nets are no lower than 30 feet below walking/workplace surfaces. A member from your team should always be checking the quality of your safety-nets to ensure they haven’t sustained any damage while out on the jobsite.

Regarding safety-net openings, OSHA requires all openings to not exceed 36 square inches, nor six inches on any side.

Each safety-net must be equipped with a border rope for webbing that maintains a minimum breaking strength of 5,000 pounds. Additionally, OSHA requires that every safety-net on site “be capable of absorbing an impact force of a drop test of a 400-pound bag of sand 30 inches in diameter dropped from the highest walking and/or workplace surface at which workers are exposed, but not from less than 42 inches above that level.”

When placing your safety-net, OSHA recommends the following distances from working level in relation to distance of safety-net:


chart of OSHA recommendations on distances from working level in relation to distance of safety-net


Vertical Distance From Working Level to Horizontal Plane of Net Surface Minimum Required Horizontal Distance of Outer Edge of Net From Edge of Working Surface
Up to 5 feet 8 feet
More than 5 feet 10 feet
Up to 10 feet 10 feet
More than 10 feet 13 feet


PFA Systems 1926.502(d)


As we already know, employers must provide workers with fall protection systems when workers are exposed to workplaces six feet or greater in height. This makes PFA systems the perfect solution to ensuring fall protection.

PFAs include anchors, harnesses, lifeline/lanyard and a deceleration device. Each component must interact with one another to ensure safety. The anchor is connected to the lifeline/lanyard by the lifeline/lanyard’s snap hook, which is then connected to the harness. PFAs can use either a lifeline/lanyard or deceleration device.

For PFA systems to be their most effective, workers must also factor in the following considerations before beginning work:

Free-fall distance: This is basically what it sounds like. What is the distance that the worker could fall before the PFA would decelerate? OSHA requires this distance to be six feet or less (29 CFR 1926.502(d)(16)(iii)).

Deceleration distance: What is the maximum distance the PFA system’s lanyard will stretch in order to arrest the fall? OSHA requires the distance to be no greater than 3.5 feet (29 CFR 1926.502(d)(16)(iv)). Make sure to check with your company’s designated safety manager, as there may be exceptions for certain types of PFA system equipment

D-Ring shift: When a worker falls, how far is the D-Ring shifting/how far is the harness stretching to be able to support the worker, tool belts and any attachments? Industry professionals usually assume a one-foot shift, although that will vary depending on the PFA system.

Back D-Ring height: Has the D-Ring height been measured, and what is the minimum standard? Industry practices suggest measuring from the D-Ring to the sole of the worker’s footwear. As for minimums, industry professionals assume a five-foot distance. This, however, is based on a worker that is a at least six-feet tall — adjustments should be made for shorter and taller workers.

Safety margin: If a worker were to fall, has the clearance level been measured? OSHA recommends allowing a minimum of two feet for your safety margin.


OSHA Roof Safety: Ladders


One of the most important tools that a roofer has at their disposal is a reliable ladder. Because of this, employers must make sure they are taking every necessary step to ensure their workers are utilizing ladders in the safest and smartest way possible:

– Always secure stable and level surfaces for your ladder’s footing. Depending on the jobsite, workers may need to secure the ladder to eliminate the hazard of the equipment slipping or shifting (29 CFR 1926.1053(b)(6)).

– Never place a ladder in areas of high traffic, such as driveways or doorways (29 CFR 1926.1053(b)(8)).

– Always maintain three points of contact — two hands and a foot or two feet and a hand. Workers shouldn’t carry items when climbing up or down ladders (29 CFR 1926.1053(b)(22)). Tools or materials can be placed in a bucket next to the ladder and pulled up after the worker is secured onto the workplace.


Extension Ladders


Extension ladders are one of the two most common ladders utilized by roofers, and workers must ensure extension ladders aren’t set at an angle — OSHA requires the horizontal distance between the top support and the foot of the ladder to be approximately one-quarter the working length of the ladder (29 CFR 1926.1053(b)(5(i)).

When setting up your extension ladder, the side rails need to extend to a minimum of three feet above the upper workplace surface (29 CFR 1926.1053(b)(1)). If this is not possible, the worker should secure the top of the ladder to a rigid surface and utilize a grasping device to mount/dismount the ladder.




The second most common ladder utilized in the roofing industry is the step ladder. As tempting as it might be, workers should refrain from using the top or top step of the ladder as a step, as the top/top step is not equipped to handle the pressure of a worker and has the potential to cause serious injury (29 CFR 1926.1053(b)(13)).

When deciding on what type of stepladder is best for the application at hand, consult the following chart provided by OSHA:

Type Duty Rating Use Load
1AA Special Duty Rugged 375 lbs.
1A Extra Heavy Duty Industrial 300 lbs.
1 Heavy Duty Industrial 250 lbs.
ll Medium Duty Commercial 225 lbs.
lll Light Duty Household 200 lbs.


OSHA Roofing Safety: Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)


One of the easiest ways to ensure your workers are operating in safe conditions is usually one of the hardest to enforce. While some workers may scoff at the idea of PPE, it’s the employer’s responsibility to ensure every worker on the job site is wearing appropriate PPE (29 CFR 1926.28 and CFR 29 1926.96).


chart of PPE requirements for tools/equipment carried


Listed below are some of the most typical PPE used with various roofing tools and equipment. Outside of OSHA roofing requirements, it is up to the employer to decide when and where certain PPE is appropriate (hard hats, safety glasses, work boots, work gloves, high-visibility vests, hearing protection, etc.):


Tools/Equipment PPE Required (minimum)
Nail Gun Hearing Protection
Eye Protection (Safety Glasses)
Generator/Air Compressor Hearing Protection
Eye Protection (Safety Glasses)
Compressed Air Hearing Protection
Eye Protection (Safety Glasses)
Shingle Stripper (Manual) Proper Footwear
Eye Protection (Safety Glasses)
Tin Snips Work Gloves
Eye Protection (Safety Glasses)
Power Saw Hearing Protection
Eye Protection (Safety Glasses)
Work Gloves
Mobile Equipment/Traffic High-Visibility Clothing/Vest


OSHA Roofing Safety: Scaffolding


OSHA requires an experienced and trained professional be responsible for erecting any scaffolding that workers may need to utilize throughout the project (29 CFR 1926.451(f)(7)).


When workers are climbing on and off scaffolding, they are opening themselves up to a fall hazard. That’s why it’s important to provide safe access.

For scaffolding platforms that are more than two feet above or below an access point, OSHA requires workers to use any one of the following: “portable ladders, hook-on ladders, attachable ladders, stair powers, stairway-type ladders, ramps, walkways, integral pre-fabricated scaffold access, or direct access from another scaffold, structure, personnel hoist or similar surface” (29 CFR 1926.451(e)(1)).


In order to utilize platforms safely, workers should check to make sure all platforms are full-planked and/or decked between the front uprights and the guardrail supports (29 CFR 1926.451(b)(1)). When reviewing this, workers should also ensure the space between the platform and the uprights isn’t more than an inch wide (29 CFR 1926.451(b)(i)).


OSHA Roofing Safety: Hazard Communication


The nature of roofing means that more often than one would like, roofing contractors may be exposed to hazardous substances. While at times the exposure is unavoidable, the way in which employers can protect their workers is not.

It is the employer’s responsibility to not only develop a Hazard Communication Program, but also to ensure all workers have thoroughly reviewed and understood the contents of the program, including data sheets and container labeling (29 CFR 1926.59 and 29 CFR 1910.1200).

Before facing health hazards in the field, employers and workers should refer to OSHA on how to safely handle commonly faced hazards like asbestos, lead and silica.


Dataforma & Roofing Contractors: Keeping Your Business Balanced


Dataforma is the roofing industry’s largest provider of web-based roofing management services for professional contractors. We pride ourselves on delivering services that keep your business up and running, so you can focus on your projects, the safety of your workers, and minimizing disruptions to your daily activities.

Utilizing our system means contractors are able to manage everything from project data, work/order/invoicing processes and customer correspondence records to bulk mailings, product information and document storage. When you invest in our innovative, cloud-based roofing software, you’ll benefit from:

– Ultra secure data storage

– Cost-effective technology managementScalable software solutions to meet growth

– Scalable software solutions to meet growthAccessibility from multiple locations

– Accessibility from multiple location

– Contractor-/Partner-driven development

– Single source business management system

– Streamlined company processes

– Elimination of repetitive data entry

– Operational efficiency and organization

Safety is your first step. Let us help you take the next one. To learn more about Dataforma’s products and services that will keep your company ahead of the game, contact us today.


The Pros and Cons of Cloud-Based Software vs. Enterprise Solutions


The pros and cons of cloud-based software vs. enterprise solutions


Cloud computing is one of the most rapidly growing technology industries today. In 2008, the cloud computing industry was worth about $46 billion, and by 2014 it had grown to $150 billion. That’s a growth of over 300 percent in only six short years. About 72 percent of businesses have already made the move to cloud computing, and that number is expected to increase to 91 percent within the next few years.

Using cloud-based software or Software as a Service (SaaS) has many benefits over traditional enterprise software. If your company is considering making the switch to the cloud, there are many pros — and a few cons — to consider.


The value of cloud computing industry worth

How Cloud Computing Works


The term “cloud” was first used in a book called “The Self-Governing Internet: Coordination by Design” in 1996. The book was published by two MIT professors, Sharon Eisner Gillett and Mitchell Kapor. Kapor is best known as the designer of the popular spreadsheet program, Lotus 1-2-3.

The cloud basically refers to the Internet, or information that is accessed remotely. Whenever you’re accessing a computer that is outside of your physical location, whether you’re storing files or running applications, you’re using the cloud.

You may be using cloud computing already. If you use online storage programs like Google Drive, Dropbox or Amazon S3, you’re using the cloud. Other cloud-based applications include Microsoft’s Windows Azure and, which both provide space for software developers to build and deliver their applications.


What Is SaaS?


“Software as a Service,” or “SaaS,” refers to software applications which are stored and accessed through the cloud, allowing you to perform tasks online from anywhere. These applications use cloud computing to run software just like you would use your own computer. Normally, you pay a fee for a SaaS service, and you can access it through your web browser. Examples of SaaS include QuickBooks Online, and Microsoft Office 365.

As cloud computing becomes more popular, so does SaaS. Over half of IT professionals in the U.S. have already implemented an SaaS application, and 14 percent say they plan to implement one in the next six months. Currently, about 49 percent of IT budgets for cloud computing are allocated to SaaS applications.


The majority of IT professionals in the U.S. have implemented an SaaS application.


What Are the Pros of Cloud Computing?


Traditional enterprise software is installed and accessed on a computer at your physical location, while cloud-based software is stored somewhere else and can be accessed from any computer. Switching to cloud computing versus enterprise software can save you time, money, energy and stress.

Some benefits of cloud-based software include:

  • Customization: Cloud-based applications are easily customizable, so they can be tailored to your company’s specific needs.
  • Scalability: Cloud-based software is scalable, which means it can be easily adjusted to add more space or services as your company grows.
  • Mobility: The cloud can be accessed from anywhere on a computer, laptop or mobile device. If you’re traveling, working from home or working out in the field, you can take the cloud with you so you’re always up-to-date.
  • Collaboration: Employees who use the cloud can collaborate in real time, eliminating the need to send information back and forth and preventing anyone from receiving outdated information.


Cloud Computing Saves Time


Installing traditional software means it must be deployed on every computer in the company. This can take your IT department days, and that’s if everything goes smoothly. Employees can be kept away from their computers for hours while software is being installed and bugs are being fixed. Not only that, but regular upgrades and updates require even more time to install.

With cloud-based software or SaaS applications, the software is already installed on a remote computer. The vendor will set up your account and provide you with secure access to the application. Most SaaS installations are ready in just a few hours.

Once the application is installed and set up, the vendor will take care of updating and maintaining the software. Upgrades are just a matter of changing your plan with the vendor. Instead of installing the upgraded software on every computer, each user will automatically have access to the latest version.

Because cloud-based and SaaS applications are normally accessed through a web browser, they tend to have lower learning curves than traditional software. Most people are familiar with browsers like Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, so they can find their way around cloud software more easily than traditional enterprise software. This cuts down on the time and cost of personnel training. Most cloud service vendors provide training on their software, so you don’t have to worry about hiring a third-party training company.


Cloud Computing Saves Money


Companies who switch to cloud-based software save an average of 21 percent each year and spend 25 percent less on personnel. 84 percent of CIOs say they’ve cut application costs by switching to the cloud, and half say they’ve reduced their IT expenditures by up to 25 percent. Cloud software simplifies a company’s budget, allows for easy scalability and requires much less hardware than traditional enterprise software. Other benefits of cloud computing include:

  • Predictable costs: Setting up a cloud-based service means your costs are predictable. The vendor will provide the service at a specific subscription rate, which normally includes maintenance and support. This makes budgeting your software costs much easier.
  • Scalable service: With a cloud subscription, you pay only for what you need. If your needs change, you can easily upgrade or downgrade your service. Many cloud services even offer free trials, so you can try out the service before deciding which plan is best for your business.
  • No extra hardware: Cloud storage means you don’t have to buy additional hardware to store data or applications and you don’t have to worry about maintaining the hardware. With traditional enterprise software, if one server goes down, your IT team could spend hours working to bring it back up and recover lost data. With a cloud service, the data is stored elsewhere and maintained by the vendor.


Cloud Computing Saves Energy


Currently, computer data centers use between one and two percent of all of the world’s electricity. The more computers, servers and peripherals you have installed in your office, the more energy you use. Switching to the cloud can save electricity, help protect the environment and save you money on energy costs.


Computer data centers use between 1-2% of all of the world's electricity.


A recent study found that if all American businesses switched their software to the cloud, it would reduce their computing energy footprints by 87 percent. This would save 23 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, enough to power the entire city of Los Angeles.

Cloud Computing Saves Stress


Switching to the cloud means you don’t have to stress as much about security, backups and data recovery. With cloud-based or SaaS software, backups are performed automatically by the vendor, so you don’t have to worry about scheduling backups and providing hardware for storing the data. With cloud-based software, you’ll also get:

  • More peace of mind: 85 percent of IT professionals say they’re confident in their cloud service vendor’s ability to provide a secure environment. On the other hand, a whopping 90 percent of IT professionals say they lack confidence in their companies’ abilities to detect problems on the premises.
  • More security: Cloud vendors provide much higher security than traditional enterprise solutions. Most vendors back up data multiple times to secure data centers in various locations. Most vendors also encrypt your data using the latest technology to prevent unauthorized users from accessing sensitive information.
  • Quicker disaster recovery: Storing data in the cloud means physical damage to your computers won’t affect it. If your hard drive fails or gets destroyed, your data is still safe in the cloud. Any missing files can be quickly accessed and restored through your cloud service.


What Are the Cons of Cloud Computing?


While switching to cloud computing vs. enterprise software can be a big time- and money-saver for your business, there are some risks to consider. Hosting your software somewhere other than your physical location means placing a lot of trust in your vendor. You should also consider the following when looking at traditional software vs. cloud software:

  • Outages: When using a cloud service, you want to be sure that your data is backed up and secure and that the vendor doesn’t experience any outages that could result in disruptions for your business. For example, in 2011, Intuit experienced a series of service outages that caused disruptions for millions of users of applications like QuickBooks Online.
  • Other users: With cloud services, sometimes one bad apple can spoil the bunch. The cloud is accessed by many different users, so the actions of one may cause a disruption for all of the other users sharing the same resources. For example, in 2012, a popular cloud-based file sharing website called came under scrutiny when its founder was accused of copyright infringement due to users sharing copyrighted files without permission. The website was eventually shut down, causing all of its 50 million users to lose their data.
  • Vendor changes: Similarly, a service could suddenly change hands if it’s acquired by another company. For example, in 2012, Facebook purchased Instagram, the popular photo-sharing website. If your cloud vendor is purchased by a new company, they may change the terms of your service or cancel it altogether. As a result, your company may end up having to look for a new vendor.
  • Cancellations: One other drawback is that cloud services are normally paid through a monthly or annual subscription. This means that if you don’t continue to pay the subscription fees, you’ll lose your service and your data will be deleted immediately from the vendor’s servers. However, most vendors provide a grace period for cancellations. For example, QuickBooks Online will store a user’s data for one year after their account has been terminated. This gives the user time to save their data or transfer it to a new service.


How Does Cloud Computing Benefit Contractors?


Switching to a cloud-based application service can be beneficial to any business, but especially to contractors and subcontractors. The cloud can streamline your business, keep you connected wherever you are, help you easily communicate with customers and provide better responses to bid and proposal requests. Cloud-based software can:

  • Streamline your business: Using a cloud-based service can streamline your business by combining multiple applications into one. Through your cloud service, you can communicate with employees and customers, manage projects and calendars, respond to bids and proposals, receive purchase orders, invoice customers, send bulk mailings and more. Instead of having multiple software programs installed on multiple computers, it’s all in one place and can be accessed from anywhere.
  • Stay connected: Contractors and subcontractors are always on the go, visiting job sites, meeting with customers and vendors, etc. You can access cloud-based software from any computer or mobile device, so you’re always connected to your employees and your customers. You have the latest information available to you 24 hours a day, no matter where you are. You can quickly send documents and photos from a worksite through your smartphone or tablet, update a client’s account information from their location or respond to a bid while you’re away from the office.
  • Communicate with customers: You can use cloud-based software to easily communicate with customers from anywhere, whether you’re discussing an upcoming project, sending an invoice or following up on a lead. All of the customer’s information and order history will be stored in the application, so you can quickly look up their account. You can also keep track of all of your previous communications with the customer, including emails, phone calls, faxes and meetings.
  • Respond to bid and proposal requests: By keeping track of leads and customers, cloud software can allow you to respond to bid and proposal requests faster and more accurately. You can use a mobile device to quickly send information back to the office from a job site and generate a bid or proposal report within hours.


Cloud Service Provider Checklist


It’s important to discuss all of these concerns with your vendor before subscribing to a cloud-based software service. The right vendor will make sure your data is safe, secure and not vulnerable to outages or bad apples. Below is a checklist to help you select the best cloud service vendor for your business.

Make sure your cloud service vendor does all of the following:

1. Regularly backs up data to multiple off-site, secure locations
2. Monitors their system performance 24 hours a day to prevent outages
3. Uses secure encryption standards to protect your data
4. Provides live customer service 24 hours a day
5. Provides training on their software for all of your personnel
6. Works with you to migrate your current data to the new service
7. Can provide references or testimonials from satisfied customers
8. Is affiliated with reputable professional organizations
9. Allows you to access your data from anywhere, including mobile devices
10. Allows you to share files and collaborate in real time
11. Allows you to fully customize your service to meet your specific needs
12. Provides easily scalable service that can grow as your business grows
13. Combines multiple applications into one service to streamline your business


A list of items your cloud service vendor should be providing.


Cloud solutions are guaranteed to save time, money, energy and stress. Consider Dataforma’s suite of business management solutions for your roofing, plumbing or electrical business. Learn more about our products and schedule a free demo.

Sign-up NOW for PSU 2015

July 7th, 2015

bwish_main01New things brewing for the 2015 PSU Meeting in Baltimore Maryland.

Explore Baltimore, Maryland’s vibrant Inner Harbor with us! The top-rated Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel is steps away from the city’s storied waterfront, placing guests at the center of downtown Baltimore’s most exciting district. Our hotel is close to local attractions like Camden Yards, the National Aquarium, and Harborplace shopping, plus a range of fine dining and nightlife opportunities.

See details listed below…..

DATE:  Thurs. Oct 29, 2015  thru  Fri. Oct 30, 2015

TIME: 10.29 | 8:30am-5pm    10.30 | 7:30am-11:30am  (We’ll have you home in plenty of time for Halloween)

HOTEL & MEETING:  Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel, Baltimore, Maryland

FOR RESERVATIONS:  Visit:  Group rate: $179.00  or  call Marriott Reservations at 877-212-5752 , using the Group Name, DATAFORMA.  (Limited space, so don’t delay!!) 

AIRPORTS:  Baltimore-Washington International (BWI) 8 miles  |  Ronald Regan Washington International (DCA) 45 miles

REGISTRATION:  ALL attendees must be registered with Dataforma to attend.  Please completed the form below.  PSU Meeting is complementary to Dataforma users.  Attendees will be responsible for travel and accommodations fees.

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Happily Ever After….

June 2nd, 2015

wed2Congratulations to Dataforma’s Director of Customer Services, Matt Sterner and his lovely new wife Alexandra.

May your life together be a great adventure!