It's that time of year again,the leaves turn colors, the days are cooler, and construction companies start to evaluate their construction software and consider if it's time to purchase something new. To help the decision process, I've created some points to consider when making the switch to a new construction software application.
You Know You Need New Construction Software When
Whenever we talk to companies who are looking to purchase new construction management software, we always ask why they are looking to switch. Over the years, I've heard a lot of different answers from the practical, "We've out grown QuickBooks and our spreadsheet processes," to the emotion based, "I just don't like our current software." While there are numerous reasons to change software applications, there are two that regularly come up in our discussions with prospective clients: cash flow control and project cost control.
Back to Cash Flow
A few months ago, I discussed cash flow and how poorly managed jobs, floating funds between jobs, and letting cash flow get out of hand can quickly lead a construction company out of business. It should come as no surprise then that companies looking for new construction software want an application that will give them greater control over their cash flow. To obtain greater control, you need software that will allow you to input data once and use that data to analyze your cash flow situations. A general contractor once told me that his accounting staff used to input time cards into their accounting software and then input the same data again in their job costing spreadsheets. By the time a week's worth of time cards had been entered into the systems, it was time to do another batch of them. This left the project managers with inaccurate information on their jobs, and the accounting staff up to their eyeballs in timecards. While this may be an extreme case, if you find that you're entering data without gaining visibility into where your cash is going, it might be time for some more sophisticated software.
Control Project Costs with Integration
It's easy to figure that when you've spent 50% of your budget, you're 50% complete with the job. Unfortunately, this isn't always true, and you may not realize it until the end of the project when you're drastically over budget. Up-to-date information plays a key role in better managing your project costs, and the best method of ensuring your information is current is to connect the field with the accounting office. This doesn't just mean making sure everyone has a working mobile phone and Internet access on the job site. This means your project management software integrates with your accounting software, ensuring that information is not only accessible, but current as well. If you have a high volume of work, or you're finding it difficult to get an accurate idea of project health, then you should consider a system that integrates your project management and accounting applications.
Cash flow and project cost control are only two of the indicators that you may need to consider better construction software, but they are vital and can make or break your business.
What other problems do you consider when deciding if it's time to switch your software?