Just about every contractor today has some form of business and construction management software playing a vital role in keeping projects moving and revenue flowing. Odds are, you’ve worked with or at least entered data into some of these systems. However, when your company outgrows its current software or the software fails to meet specific needs, it may be time to start looking at what new solutions are on the market.
Despite some of the stories out there of new software selection and implementation being a back-breaking ordeal, the reality is this process is much easier today than it was a decade or so ago. First, most of us by this point have worked with—and played with—leading edge technologies, so we know what to expect and what we need. Secondly, with many software programs moving into cloud and web-based formats, implementation takes much less effort—no more installing software on individual workstations; much simpler integration paths for importing, exporting or uploading data from one system to another.
Yet, the idea of switching construciton software packages still gives some folks the twitchy eye. Preparing for the software search doesn’t have to equate to writing the next volume of “War and Peace.”
In the 35-plus years we’ve been delivering leading-edge construction accounting and management software, our experience has shown that a little planning can go a long way. With that in mind, here are the first 5 of 10 brief things to consider when it comes time to start your software search:
Selecting the right Solution
- Know what your needs are: to find the right software match, you should identify all potential pain points where you feel the right software could help, and make sure to include anyone who might wind up using the software in identifying needs.
- Create a prioritized checklist: once you’ve identified your company’s needs and desires, write these down in detail. Prioritize these needs or come up with a scoring system to help when reviewing software. It also helps to identify what you don’t need as this will help parse your software search.
- Be prepared to do the research: visit websites, review software forums and message boards, thoroughly read the company’s brochures, attend webinars, and more. Once you’ve identified a handful of providers that look like their software might be up to the task, sign up for personal demos and engage in product discussions. Having a better understanding of the products will give you a better idea of how to best address your needs.
- Talk to peers and industry leaders and elicit their feedback: get feedback from a variety of companies. See what solutions they use and why. Read industry articles and white papers. Find out which software provider is the most active with development and is doing the most re-investment in its product. Talk to customers of software providers you like and see what they have to say.
- Know your budget and get quotes in writing: you most likely have a spending range you have to stay within. Be clear about your budget up front and know whether your budget is movable for the right solution. Also consider that if your company is growing, you might want to invest in a more powerful solution now, or look for scalable software that can grow with your company. Understanding how your budget matches up with your functionality needs can positively affect discussions with software providers and give you a target you might both be able to hit.