If you’re a general contractor today, you probably have some type of construction project management software to help you manage your subcontractors, control your costs, and ensure a profitable outcome. Is your software up to the task — especially now when the pandemic has reduced construction revenue margins considerably? More importantly, is your solution provider giving you everything you need, across the board, without charging you exorbitant prices?
The good news is that not all building industry software is alike, and you have a wealth of solutions to choose from. The ideal solution is easy to use, configurable, comprehensive, and priced to support your requirements — with no surprises. To find a solution that meets your needs at a price you can work with, ask the questions presented here when choosing, or renewing, a construction project management solution.
Five questions to evaluate construction project management softwareMany solutions today are cloud-based and fairly easy to use. To get the most from your investment, try to find a solution that also meets the specific requirements of contractors, and is from an experienced technology partner that can support you well into the future. The following questions can help you find that perfect match:
1. Who is the solution for?Your project management needs are significantly different than those of owners or design organizations, even on the same project. Owners, for instance, are concerned at a high level with the entire project life cycle, from capital planning to the commissioning of the facility. In contrast, general contractors are focused on the details of hiring and managing all of the subcontractors needed to complete the job on time and on budget. Your position between the owner and the subcontractors adds a layer of complexity to your tasks. The efficiency at which you operate determines your profit margins for the project. You need project management software that gives you complete visibility so that you can control costs and revenues to generate more accurate, profitable outcomes for your company. Building industry software can give you an advantage if you find the construction software that is designed for your needs and that is customizable to fit the way you do business. Ask your potential solution provider who their solution was originally developed for and what size organization they focus on. Be sure you get a clear answer and so that you can find a technology partner who is focused on your needs.
2. Does the solution focus on managing job budgets and costs?Today’s margins are thin. Keeping a close eye on construction project budgets and costs is crucial, especially for contractors. Your construction project management software should support your most essential business processes, and managing job costs is one of the top requirements. But unless it is designed specifically for contractors, construction software might not include this capability. It may be great at helping you manage daily reports, but unless you can capture the cost impact of issues and pending changes, your profitability will take a hit. Even some of the very latest cloud-based construction project management solutions are completely missing this vital capability, leaving you to manage projects in spreadsheets. Make sure the solution you choose has proven budget and cost management modules that have been field-tested for decades.
3. Does the solution support Connected Construction?The term “Connected Construction,” coined by Trimble many years ago, refers to more than just cloud-based solutions. Today’s construction tools, machines, and materials are enhanced with smart technology that enables them to communicate their location and status — and contractors need software that can listen. Look for project management software that supports Connected Construction by automating data collection and sharing through connections with Internet of Things (IoT) devices and between contractors and owners. Your solution should give you this connectivity without requiring integration with multiple solutions from multiple providers, with different licenses, support, and training requirements. A solution provider with a portfolio of solutions that spans these roles is your best bet. Their solutions will already be integrated with each other and can even route RFIs, submittals, and cost information between the contractor’s and the owner’s software so both parties can use (and own) their own data.
4. What is the financial health of the solution provider?Often overlooked, the answer to this question may affect the long-term viability of the solution you choose. When you’re looking at top project management solutions, it’s vital to consider the financial stability of your future technology partner. Is the company profitable? Do they report to a single investor or are they a public company, and how does that affect their decisions? How much do they invest in research and development (R&D) to advance their products and their market position? Tech companies that struggle with their financial health are more likely to catch their customers off guard with surprises such as substantial price increases, sometimes as much as 300% year over year. Remember that you’re likely to be entering into a multiyear relationship with the company. You need to know that they will be around for the long term and continue to support you without surprise price increases. A company that is struggling financially may also reduce staff with little or no notice; this will negatively impact their ability to give you continuous and consistent support.
5. Is the solution priced for today’s construction economy?The cost of your construction project management software comes from your profit margin. With the long run of growth and stability in the industry up until recently, this was a minor concern. Now, as the global pandemic and a slowing economy squeeze contractor profitability, what was once a 2.8% to 3.2% project profitability margin is shrinking. Why should you send up to 1% of your revenue and up to 25% of your margin to a solution provider simply for the privilege of using their construction management software? Now is the time to take a good look at what you’re getting for your money. Before you renew your current software subscription, ask yourself which features you’re actually using. The best solutions let you avoid paying for features you don’t need. Prioritize your needs and include value-adding features such as budget and cost management, document management, and field management. Finally, look for a solution that fulfills all of your needs at a price that makes sense in today’s construction economy.
Five compelling answers from Trimble ProjectSightFew construction project management solutions can answer all these questions with confidence. Trimble ProjectSight can.
This next-generation project management solution gives you: