How to choose the right construction software
There are many construction software programs out there. What’s more frustrating is that every single one of them offers different functions. Nevertheless, pricing can range from five dollars a seat to a six figure monthly payment. Yes, there are software programs that can cost that much. In this article, we will mainly focus on software that is meant for specialty and trade contractors.
Why do you need to choose the right construction software?
Once you make the decision and decide to use one of the platforms, there is no going back. And what we mean by no step back, is that the database for each and every piece of software is unique. Once you have stored data, it can be impossible to bring it to another platform. Switching to another platform is very time consuming and expensive.
Once you choose the platform, you have to look at the long term. What will happen when your company’s turnover is 2x, 5x, or 10x? What will happen if you increase your staff by 3x, 5x, and so on?
Let’s find out where you have to pay attention once you choose the right construction software.
We emphasize this paragraph just to let you know that pricing doesn’t play a role once you choose the right construction software. Because prices can range from $5 per seat to a six-figure monthly payment. Don’t look at the price; look at the value they offer. This time, you pay for the services you receive!
What is your goal with construction software?
Make a list of why you need construction software. What problems should the construction software fix for you? This list will help you prioritize software and achieve your goal. Once making a list, keep in mind the Pareto principle. That 80% of problems are caused by 20% of causes.
How many users will you need?
Now think about why you need to focus on how many users you will need and why you need subscriptions for every single worker in your company. You don’t need software that will add more work and training for all your staff. Focus on what your goal is, not that you need to multiply your monthly subscription with all your employees.
Because the right construction software brings order to projects, there is less work for most of the staff at the end. Remember the Pareto principle: 20% of causes can cause 80% of problems. Once you start to think that you need that software, which costs 5–10 dollars a seat, and you have to multiply by every single person in your company, you are heading in the wrong direction and trying to fix 100% of the causes. Unfortunately, it is not possible to fix all problems, which is also stated in the Lean Manufacturing Best Techniques.
There is software with which you will need subscriptions for every single employee in your company, and there is software like PlanUpPro where you only need a few subscriptions for site managers, project managers, and company managers.
Document management and file storage
Many construction software companies offer cloud document management software and file storage. The truth is that most of them use Microsoft, Amazon, or Google’s APIs. What it means is that they store your files on Microsoft, Google, or other 3rd party servers. For document management and file storage, it is suggested that you store them directly in Microsoft SharePoint or Google Drive. Would you rather choose to order services straight from the provider or through the middleman? What is the best part? When companies subscribe to Google or Microsoft email monthly subscriptions, they have access to these servers already included. Technically, most businesses already have the ability to store files in the cloud.
Also, don’t forget about safety. Microsoft and Google can’t afford to make safety mistakes when something goes down or data is stolen. These platforms are one of the safest.
Mobile capabilities are one of the major signals once you choose the right software. But again, think about it: mobile screen resolution is small, so technically there is not much room for input fields where you can write or read some values or data. So we do not recommend making mobile capability one of the main features.
User experience and user interface (UX and UI)
UX/UI is important for any construction software, and designers are working hard to make the interface friendly. You should measure how easy it is for your users to use construction software. Is there any training, how much does the training cost, how much time does it take to understand the software, is your staff trained to use all functions, and so on? In the best-case scenario, your staff should understand the software quickly, as we do with iPhones. But most construction software is packed with functions you can’t escape without training and instructions.
Investigate how much time it took for your team and users to pick up possible software. What will it cost for new staff training? What happens if a key employee leaves your company? Can others take his place and understand his position with construction software?
Accounting and financial control
This functionality is mainly available in the United States for those who use Quickbooks. There are construction software companies that you can use as accounting software. You can pass all your invoices through construction software under specific projects, thereby having complete control over your whole project finances. But this functionality is not available for every country; hence, every country has different tax laws. And connecting construction software with different types of accounting software is time consuming and expensive.
If you find out that your construction software also works with your accounting software, then this is a big plus and it’s worth reviewing this software in depth!
Manual Gantt charts are slowly becoming history. Everyone talks about AI, and so do construction software companies. More and more vendors of construction software are offering automated scheduling and rescheduling. Also, there are software programs that are working on technology such that by walking through the site with a camera, you will be able to know the status of the project. How much is done, what is left, and is there something missing?
Again, project scheduling is a major feature to review. Great softwares can now schedule and reschedule work for you!
This functionality is mainly needed for specialty trade contractors who perform site work and require manual labor. One of the areas of uncertainty for most of the contractors is what the actual cost of manual labor will be. As there are already AI generated construction schedules, the same is true for job costing. There are few construction software programs that can forecast your manual labor costs as soon as you start to work on site. Then, based on these live data about your job costs your team can work on possible ways to improve performance at an early stage.
KPI, or staff performance, is another measurement of how to check your team’s performance. Such measurements allow contractors to make improvements in their overall productivity and performance. This helps contractors to reduce the costs of upcoming projects, thereby becoming more competitive. See whether it is possible with your chosen software to measure staff performance.
The right formula for choosing the right construction management software
Choosing the right construction software is an important and expensive decision. Once you break down all the functions you need and review many software packages, you will come to five main features that you actually need, which are document management, finance control, project scheduling, job costing, and staff performance. Of course, functionality also depends on the type of service you provide.