Five Essential Questions to Ask When Buying Construction Management Software
There comes a time in every business when the realization that the current way of doing things is no longer working. Whether it be the arrival of new management, continuously missing deadlines, losing money on projects, employee turnover, or the desire for the company to take on more projects for growth, the need to be more efficient arises.
Construction management software provides a framework to assist construction companies in operating more efficiently. With a broad range of products in the marketplace, how do you determine the right software for your team? Below are some important questions to ask when buying construction management software:
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1. What problems are you looking to solve?
This is an excellent opportunity to assess your business workflow and discover the biggest pain points for your team. Spending a day in the life of key members—project manager, field worker, accounting—will enable you to take a deep look at their workflow, the tasks that are taking the longest time, the frustrations they may be experiencing, and any efficiencies that can be gained with new construction management software.
Once you’ve identified the current pain points from your team, it’s important to develop the short term and long term goals for your company. These will help serve as the guide for desired features. The short terms goals would be the “must haves” in construction management software to address the current challenges and ease the frustrations among your team. Long term goals include some features that are “nice to have” that could be implemented at a later date. A modular approach to construction management software implementation serves to transition changes onto your team into smaller bite-sized increments to increase adoption rather than a complete change that may cause a revolt.
2. What is your cost?
Recognizing that construction management software will require a significant investment, what is the total amount that you would like to invest? Different software vendors have different pricing models:
• Flat rate – Single monthly price for all users providing access to all features
• Usage-based – Pay-as-you-go model that scales based on various usage factors like the number of projects, sheets, or revenue.
• Tiered – Creates different packages based on the available features at various price points
• Per user – Per user pricing is one of the most popular models for a fixed price based on number of users
• Per active user – Similar to per user pricing however charged based on the number of active users that login within a defined time period.
• Feature-based – Introduces package pricing based on the number of features available in each price point
• Freemium – Provides an introductory free package and then provides other packages based on usage and features desired.
3. What are the tech requirements?
Software purchases must take into account any necessary hardware and network upgrades. On-premise software installations may require the purchase of new servers and workstations to run the software. Additionally, when hosting your company’s servers, additional considerations must be placed on IT time and resources to maintain, upgrade, and backup software as well as ensure appropriate levels of security. Alternatively, cloud-based software does not require investment in additional hardware. All updates are managed by the software vendor, and security and redundancy are guaranteed by the cloud platform.
If you are looking at equipping your field team with tablet devices, you need to ensure that the software is compatible with the device. You don’t want to buy Windows Surface Pro devices only to find out that the mobile app is only available in Apple’s app store.
4. How long will training and implementation take?
Implementing new processes and learning new software will take time from your team’s already busy schedule. It’s important to get a clear understanding from the vendor regarding the time commitment that is needed. Providing a quick start implementation program in which the vendor configures the system for you to quickly get you going on one project will accelerate the time to value for your investment. Once your team is onboard, it’s important to look at the ongoing training resources available for future new employees. It’s crucial to have unlimited training for new users, an online portal with access to on-demand videos or knowledge-base articles, or a responsive help desk for quick questions.
5. Who are your customers?
References are super important, and you want to make sure you speak to actual users of the construction management software. It’s important to remember that general contractors and specialty contractors have different workflows, and large $50M companies operate differently than $5M companies. So ask to speak to their customers who have a similar firmographic profile. Determine if they had similar challenges, if the software adequately addressed their needs, and any advice they would have for you moving forward.