Repairman checking an outside air conditioner unit; subs should have their own software concept

General Contractor vs Subcontractor Software: 3 Reasons Subs Should Have Their Own Software

“The GC already has an app that our team can plug into. Why do we need to pay for one?”

We hear from businesses every week that ask some version of that question. Often, these are veteran tradespeople whose subcontracting businesses have thrived for years. They’re the go-to sub for many of the general contractors in their area.

Understandably, they see this as a process that isn’t broken, so why fix it?

But what those businesses don’t fully grasp is how much of their own agency they’re handing over to the GC by working this way.

Trades businesses that have independent processes and tools are the only ones that are truly free to shape their own growth. Those tools and those processes need to plug into other software from time to time, sure, but the point is they ultimately need to belong to the sub.

Below are the three big reasons why.

General Contractor vs Subcontractor Software: Your Historical Project Data Is a Gold Mine

Think about all of the data your construction projects generate, and where that data lives:

  • In your daily reports.
  • In your photos and videos of the worksites.
  • In your cost reports.
  • In your payment records.
  • In your phone logs and emails.
  • In your bids.
  • In RFIs and change orders.

Those are the things that tell the story of each construction project you work on. If you don’t have free and easy access to all that information because some of it is stored in the GC’s construction management software, then you cannot ever get all of the insights you might need from old construction project data.

That’s when you get conversations like this:

  • Q: “How did it go the last time we worked on a project like this?”
  • A: “We don’t know. We don’t have those dailies.”


  • Q: “Does this GC pay on time?”
  • A: “We don’t know. They’re the ones with the payment records.”

Theoretically, you could ask for all of the GC’s data after each project and try to analyze that information yourself. But that would be a nightmare of a job.

“Painstakingly extracting data from multiple systems and then re-entering it into ‘monster’ spreadsheets is one way to accomplish this analysis, but the process tends to be laborious, time-consuming, and error-prone,” writes Bruce Orr, the CEO of ProNovos.

That’s why it’s better to track everything yourself in a dedicated tool. Then, when you need old construction project data in the future, it will be easily searchable and ready to go.

One of eSUB’s clients, Ground Breakers Construction in California, uses our software to turn historical project data into present-day insights. “It also gives us a competitive advantage over any other subcontractor still using paper,” says Marty Siebe, the company’s chief operating officer.

“Being able to have live, up-to-the-minute data in the palm of your hand is essential.”

General Contractor vs Subcontractor

You Need Flexibility With Your Integrations

Your processes and your tools do need to be interoperable with those of your partners and your clients.

Every construction project is going to generate a massive amount of data each day, and you’ll likely be relaying that data from the field to an office far away. Because of that distance — a fore can’t just walk into the GC’s accounting office at lunch to answer recordkeeping questions — communication has to be tight.

That’s why integrations matter. eSUB Cloud, for example, integrates with accounting tools such as QuickBooks for just this reason. The purchase orders and pay applications our users create can populate the bills, purchase orders and invoices that the accounting software creates.

And if you have multiple GCs all with different payroll software, no worries. As long as those tools accept flat files, eSUB can send timesheet data to them cleanly.

By managing your own data and connecting with partner and client systems via well-built integrations, you help ensure smooth communication across each and every construction project.

You May Need to Protect Yourself During Disagreements

Disputes happen on projects where many teams get pulled together. Sometimes, one of those teams might need to make a claim against work that has been completed.

If the GC is the only party that collects, analyzes and owns construction project data, then there’s no way you can back up any disagreements you might have with them. Or, at the very least, you might spend hours trying to get paid by the GC. Any Temp Heating and Cooling in the Chicagoland area uses eSUB for this.

“eSUB Daily Reports makes tracking lost hours very easy for our foremen,” says Kim DeMeo, project coordinator at Any Temp. “We have used the lost hours report when requesting payment to our General Contractors. With the lost hours report combined with time stamped daily reports and pictures — eSUB helps us get paid.”

Likewise, if a building inspector needs to do a reassessment of work, they will probably ask your team for explanations as to how certain jobs were carried out. If you don’t have that data yourself, then you’re at the mercy of however the GC explains your work.

Empower Your Business

Owning your team’s data allows you to justify and vouch for your work.

This can be crucial in ensuring you get paid for the work you’ve done, ensuring you’re protected against potential risks, and ensuring that the reputation you’ve spent a career building isn’t subject to unfair scrutiny.

If you have any questions about how eSUB can help you take control of your own construction project data, contact us today to schedule a demo.

Images by: fabrikacrimea/©, chuanchai/©