With constant juggling of numerous tasks—budgeting, progress reporting, overseeing employees, billing, and more—managing a construction business is a huge challenge for contractors. Thankfully, there are numerous software solutions available to support managers and streamline several construction processes.
With numerous software applications available on the market, however, it can be overwhelming for first-time contractors who are new to automation. Getting construction software requires not only the initial purchase cost but also employee training as well as software maintenance costs. Because of this significant investment, business owners need to have a firm grasp on what features of construction software they need.
So how do you choose the right one for your business? To guide you in your decision, here is a four-point criteria for selecting construction software.
1. Price vs. Value — Pricing will always be an issue when making purchases. Thanks to new technological innovations, especially cloud-based software solutions, the price of construction software has gone down and become more affordable. But before you buy the cheapest one you can find, you have several factors that you need to consider.
Take a look at the inefficiencies in your workflow. What functions will the construction software fulfill? How will it make your business processes efficient? How many full-time equivalent (FTE) units will it save you? How does it impact your cash flow? By answering these questions, you will be able to identify the features that you need to look for in construction software.
It is only at this point where you consider the cost. Should you spend more money to get a particular software feature? Or should you find another way to handle the business pain point? There is no right or wrong answer as this depends entirely on your business needs.
2. User-friendliness — The usability of a piece of construction software is another factor that you need to consider. The construction industry is one of the least digitized industries. There’s a huge likelihood that not a lot of employees are tech savvy.
The first feature to look for in a software is ease of installation. The software should be compatible with your operating system and the installation process should not be complicated. In addition, look for software that is easy to navigate. Too often users get irritated if it requires a lot of clicks just to perform one action. The more intuitive the interface is, the easier for your less tech-savvy employees to use the software. Finally, the software should be easy to update. Bugs and other software issues can happen. Updating needs to be simple to ensure your company enjoys the full benefits of the software.
3. Accessibility — In an industry where a majority of employees work on the field, the accessibility of construction software is a huge issue, especially if it is one that you plan to use for a long time. You need construction software that can be easily accessed by those who need it even if they are located far from the main office.
In addition, the software of your choice should be accessible across multiple devices. Your workers on the field might use mobile phones and tablets while your teams in the office use laptops and desktops for work. Choosing software that can be installed and accessed in a wide range of devices is crucial to ensure the smoothness of operations and prevent miscommunication and delays.
4. Integrations — You are already using several software solutions for each specific part of your business. But since all of these business processes are interconnected, your choice of construction software will be more effective if it can integrate with other software or technology.
For example, if you are already using dedicated accounting software to manage your finances, a billing and collection software that can access your accounting data seamlessly will save you a lot of time and effort.
Looking at the available construction software solutions on the market today, choosing what your business can benefit from can be overwhelming. Be careful and strategic with your choice. Create a checklist of the aspects of your business that needs a boost and choose construction software based on these parameters.
Patrick Hogan is the CEO of Handle, where they build software that helps contractors, subcontractors, and material suppliers secure their lien rights and get paid faster by automating the collection process for unpaid construction invoices.