The Construction Software Guide

If you're looking to optimize your construction company's operations and profitability, construction software can be a great tool to utilize. While some companies still handle all their operations by hand, this approach can lead to lost data, poor efficiency levels, miscommunication and missed opportunities. By going digital and using high-quality construction software at your company, you can streamline many daily tasks and receive several other benefits that take your company to the next level.

To get the most out of what construction software can give you, you need to understand the primary types of construction software and the best strategies for finding the perfect program for you. Additionally, you should know about the benefits of construction software and industry trends you can expect to see in the future.

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Finding the Right Construction Software

Construction software refers to programs that help construction professionals with a variety of processes. These programs range from planning to execution and project monitoring. While some companies still prefer to conduct various processes manually, many in the industry have started to invest in software that can streamline processes and open up new possibilities for their companies.

Types of Construction Software

As you decide on construction software, you need to know your options. There are multiple different types of construction software available for a number of functions like estimating, accounting and management. Learn more about the primary categories of construction software:

  • Construction accounting software: With construction accounting software, you can automate much of your loan service, job costing and accounting tasks. The best kind of software you can buy will help you stay on top of your company's finances and automate many accounting processes.
  • Prequalification and bidding software: For any construction project, a company needs to verify the credentials and work experience of potential workers. Prequalification and bidding software gives you the tools to vet subcontractors and trades workers quickly, as well as make smarter bids. Top software options help improve your vendor selection, identify the value of bids and reduce the risk you take on trying to research potential staff or bidding values on your own.
  • Construction estimating software: One of the most popular types of construction software is construction estimating software. This type of program assists your company's estimators as they price labor expenses and the cost of materials. Additionally, the programs can produce proposals that use the data coming from the estimates. By using this type of software, you can get more accurate estimates on your next job.
  • Construction management software: As a version of project management software, construction management software helps companies conduct various processes more efficiently. These processes include communication, job scheduling, decision making and budget management. The software automates a variety of tasks and duties that would normally take your company longer to complete.
  • Customer relationship management software: If you have lots of communications with potential customers and current customers, customer relationship management (CRM) software may be the program you need. This kind of software helps companies better manage their relationships with various customers and improve their business relationships. More specifically, CRM systems help with sales management, productivity and contact management.

 

How to Choose the Right Construction Software

Because there are so many categories of construction software, you first need to determine you have the right program for your needs. Quickly choosing the first piece of software you find can cause you to miss out on programs more suited for your needs. As you determine which type of construction software is right for you, you can follow these steps to make the process easier.

1. Determine Your Needs

You probably wouldn't hire a new employee without knowing what you need them to do. You want to make sure the new employee will provide value to your company. The same principle goes for purchasing software. To get the best results out of the software, you need to develop a set of criteria for what the program should give you. Start by asking a few questions to help you figure out what you need and the problems your company is currently experiencing:

  • Do you want easier information flow between your employees, teams and projects?
  • Do you want your projects to get done faster?
  • Do you want to increase profit margins?
  • Do you want to improve communication between your field staff and office staff?
  • Do you want to save on costs?
  • Do you want to have better relationships with your clients?
  • Do you want to limit overhead costs?
  • Do you want to identify the reasons for delays faster?
  • Do you want daily pictures and reports from your work sites?
  • Do you want to put your project schedule in the cloud and have your staff easily access the schedule?

As you determine your needs and the problems your team is currently experiencing, you may want to prioritize two or three of the top problems that will impact your company the most. With those in mind, you're more likely to find software built to address the primary challenges your company is facing.

It's usually best to address any major challenges first with one program before trying to solve them at once with multiple programs. Trying to solve all your programs at one time with multiple new programs can be very overwhelming to staff and can end up leading to more inefficiency than you were experiencing before. It's best to start tackling the big challenges first and move on after resolving them.

2. Search for Relevant Software

After you've determined the biggest problems you hope the software addresses, begin searching for the best programs on the market. While you can hire a consulting firm to help you find a full software package with the appropriate features, you can usually find an excellent piece of software by conducting a web search.

With all the different types of construction software out there, you can begin by searching for the category of software that seems most likely to meet your needs. For example, if you discover a problem that relates to customer relationships, you should probably search for customer relationship management software rather than construction accounting software.

In your search, it's a good idea to look at sites that rank software in the category you need help in. These sites can help you learn more about the drawbacks of leading options, their pricing, the number of features they offer and advantages that might not be immediately apparent.

Once you've found a few well-respected programs in the industry, you can start to look through the software companies' product pages to get more information on the pieces of software. Look through a couple of the top options to see if there's anything the review site missed and get a sense of what they offer.

3. Give the Product a Try Before You Buy

A reputable software vendor will likely offer a free version or a trial of their program. Before you invest in the program, use the free trial to see if it's going to give you enough value and if it's intuitive enough that your staff will be able to integrate it into their daily operations.

4. Bring Your Team Into the Decision

With a free trial, you should make choosing the software a team effort. Your staff's input is vital towards finding a software solution that meets their needs and that they'll buy into. You can get their opinion on features they'd find especially useful and see what they think of the programs you've narrowed your list down to. Take some time to hear everyone's opinion before you invest in the software, trying to take their preferences into account as you make a decision.

5. Prepare Your Staff for the Software

Even the best pieces of software can end up not delivering the results you want if your staff doesn't see its value or doesn't know how to use it. Because you need staff buy-in, it's a good idea to take some time to prepare your staff for the arrival of new software.

If you've already gotten your staff's opinion on various programs before purchasing one, you're off to a good start. After you've made the decision, it's a good idea to brief your staff on the advantages the program will provide for the company and daily operations. Those who can see how the software will make their job easier are more likely to be motivated to learn how to use it.

Once staff members are aware of the benefits and value of the software, you may want to conduct some training sessions that walk them through how to use the programs. You can even develop a task force of expert users at your company who can be responsible for answering any questions or training your staff on the software's functions.

6. Implement the Software

Once you've prepared staff, the last step will be implementing the software. Since you can't expect everyone to be experts on the program, it's a good idea to roll out the software in waves. Start small with simple tasks to avoid overwhelming new users. After your staff becomes familiar with the basics, you can move on to shifting more advanced duties over to the software and gradually phasing out responsibilities that used to be done by hand or with less-efficient procedures.

Trends in Construction Software

Investing in construction software is about addressing your current needs while also anticipating future challenges and developing ways you can meet those challenges. By starting with construction software now, you raise the chances that you can utilize the most cutting edge tools in the industry as soon as they become available. Some of the trends expected to become even more apparent and helpful to consumers include:

1. Mobile Compatibility

Expect to see mobile compatibility and technology become a major demand in construction software. When you're on a job site, you may not have a computer close by and may want to collect data or access a program for several different needs. A lack of mobile compatibility can end up causing your team to waste time or forget crucial information.

Software that can integrate seamlessly into a mobile form is going to be in high demand. For example, construction software that's compatible with AR/VR wearable devices, smartphones and tablets is going to continue to be useful for the industry. In the past, construction software hasn't been available in mobile form, or it hasn't been very intuitive. Companies that can better integrate their software into mobile devices will likely rise to the top.

This trend should be great news for anyone looking to increase their collaboration and connectivity. Mobile devices can also increase safety on the work site, as they make it easier to input information quickly and stay focused on tasks. Mobile apps that feature voice activation technology can increase safety even more, make tasks much easier and improve your staff's efficiency. To enjoy these benefits, look for mobile compatibility in the software you purchase.

2. Greater Analytics

Many types of computer software available work with analytics. Data will continue to be valuable, as companies look to maximize their profitability and improve their efficiency. Software companies will continue to invest in improving their software's ability to collect, manage and analyze data.

With greater analytic capabilities, companies can use data to make more informed decisions. The growth of analytics will continue to produce better ways to gather data and interpret it in new ways. Make sure to evaluate whether or not the software you're looking at has a focus on analytics and is looking to grow.

3. Improved Risk Management

Construction can be a dangerous profession, especially if you haven't taken the proper precautions to minimize the chance of danger. Risk and safety management continue to be a priority for many types of construction software. The ability to scope out new work sites with drones — along with using AR/VR technology to guide drones into dangerous areas before you send someone to do work — can greatly improve safety.

In addition to software that works with drones for scouting, you may also see an increase in tech your company can use to keep an eye on work sites. Improved RFIDs or sensors can be installed at the work site to ensure that if an accident happens, the software is immediately aware and able to alert relevant parties. By knowing when an accident happens, medical care can be deployed earlier, reducing harm and getting people the care they need faster.

4. Office and Field Collaboration

With 5G networks available, there's more opportunity for software companies to craft programs that allow for greater collaboration between those in the field and those in the office. The ability to share documents seamlessly via the cloud can help keep both parties fully up to date and complete projects faster. As a whole, it's likely the construction industry will see software that encourages real-time collaboration between users at the office and field.

This focus on collaboration aims to reduce traditional barriers between office staff and field staff. Greater communication through software is set to reduce the traditional barriers that have separated different types of workers in the future. The best software will make it so workers, no matter how far from each other, feel like they're working in the same workplace.

 

Benefits of Construction Software

There are numerous benefits to utilizing construction software — especially since there are so many types built to address specific challenges construction industry professionals face. As you search for construction software, you should be aware of the many advantages that come with several types of construction software programs. Find out more about the most common ways construction software assists companies below:

1. Better Project Management

When used correctly, construction software can help reduce inefficiencies and the amount of time spent on projects. Construction projects are often complex, with tons of different types of workers, material vendors and inspectors all playing a role in the successful completion of a client's vision.

Construction software can help you keep track of everyone's information, needs and calendars in one place. Since everything is in one space, it's much less likely people get confused about their responsibilities. Basically, the software keeps everyone on the same page and helps managers better monitor project developments and spotting to address inefficiencies faster.

2. Greater Cost Controls

In the construction industry, large projects are likely to finish 80% over budget and take 20% longer to complete than scheduled. These extra costs can be very damaging to a company, especially those running on a tight budget. To ensure their projects stay within budget and proceed at the expected rate, many companies turn to construction software.

Many types of construction software can help you keep track of your costs, better estimate prices and budget for the future. Some programs even allow the user to run an audit over the company to take a deeper look into its spending habits and areas where there could be an improvement.

3. Easier Access to Data and Documents

Most programs allow for data and document storage in the cloud, meaning employees can get the information they need as fast as possible, no matter where they are. You can often scan older physical documents and put them in your online database, keeping your records secure and easy to find. Instead of having to search through a filing cabinet, for instance, you can quickly search for an old client's information or access a company policy with ease.

4. Improved Communication With Customers

There are many programs designed to help companies improve their relationships with customers or clients. Customer relationship management software can help you keep track of client communications and ensure workers follow up on all queries. You can usually keep notes about clients in these systems, so staff who may not have worked with a particular client before are just as informed.

Even if you aren't interested in customer relationship management software, other types of construction software can improve your ability to communicate with customers. The wealth of data many software products provide can help your staff deliver more accurate information to customers and get answers to questions about a project's progress or costs quickly. Additionally, you can use construction technology to give customers more accurate project timelines and costs, helping to control expectations.

5. Better Internal Communication

Construction software assists in improving communication between staff members. In these programs, you can monitor emails, communicate in one centralized location and import contacts. You can also usually post field notes from a work site that your team might find valuable and generate daily reports that lead to more informed decision making. Top software options will streamline much of your communication processes and help your staff stay as informed as possible.

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