Business is growing. Bidding requirements are increasing and changing. Maybe you have outgrown your current business processes and you need to implement software to help you get the job done. Understanding where to look and what to look for in construction software is the key to eliminating a potential issue. Ask yourself what you need your software to do for you? The initial need for software is often understood by your need to solve a problem. Your business needs define the parameters of your software purchase. For example, your business may have just experienced an acquisition or perhaps your estimators need a more efficient solution for takeoff, estimation, and bidding. Whatever your needs for a new construction software, the goal is to purchase a software that functions appropriately for your business in both functionality and scope. If the software lacks the features that are required to solve your business needs then you have not solved the problems you want to address.
This is the most important step in choosing construction software. Think about what features are required to complete your day-to-day tasks. Identify the infrastructure required for implementation of your software. Is the software easy to use? Can your personnel be trained on it in a timely fashion? Do you run the risk of exasperating your problems with a new software purchase? Will you have the help you need to install, implement, and maintain the software that is used? Will your software protect your customer data, financial data, and licenses? Who will need to have access to these licenses and are you able to designate specific rights to the end user? These questions will put you in a position to make strategic and careful considerations regarding your construction business that will ultimately affect the way that you work.
KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID
So, you have assessed your software requirements. Now what? Well, for starters, let’s be sure that layout of the software is intuitive. A solution for your scenario in the way you work. You may be a Windows-based operation or perhaps you use Apple’s IOS. You may like one or both of these. The experience is what you and your team are used to. Do not take this lightly. If it tickles your fancy to use shortcuts and quick keys that you have used for years on end in friendly applications like Microsoft Word or Excel, it would be wise to invest in software that is intuitive, easy for you to use, and compatible with your daily work processes. The “out of the box” experience can make or break your construction software implementation. If it doesn’t work upon launch and you can’t use it, you’re back at square one.
WHAT’S YOUR SOFTWARE EMERGENCY?
Imagine calling 911 and being put on hold. No live person and you are waiting for death. Well that is how purchasing software from some companies can be. They hand hold you through the entire buying process, through the installation and implementation, and then you’re on eternal hold. Well, we don’t live in that type of world hopefully, but the point is a company lacking a good support team can very much feel this way. Whatever software vendor you choose, do not underestimate the amount of technical and customer support, available and needed. Software has bugs, and can be affected by viruses, so you will need customer and technical support. This support needs to work with your business model as well. Assess if you will have 24/7 support or 24/5 support. Where is the support located? [Yes, where is the support located? If your customer support is available in another country, guess what happens when you need help?]. It could be tomorrow or the following day before you can get some assistance. As you wait, you are wasting precious time, losing bids, and maybe at an impasse for that business day. Scary. So in addition to the above requirements on how well you can use your new construction software, be sure that your customer/technical support speaks “how can I help you now,” and not “please hold and wait 48 hours for the next available representative.”
ANYTIME, ANYWHERE ACCESS
Choose your poison, whether laptop, tablet, smartphone, or desktop you need access to your data. Your software needs to be mobile and easily accessible. With so many employees bringing their own devices to work, and accessing from various types of hardware, your software needs to be just as mobile and compatible. Being able to work from home, in your office, and in the field is no longer a convenient benefit, it’s a requirement. Your anytime, anywhere access will boost your productivity, efficiency, and collaboration in ways that you can’t imagine.
Here’s why Marek, a 77-year-old commercial interior construction company, chose On Center’s cloud-based Oasis TakeoffTM and FieldCenterTM as solutions for its multi-office firm.
“We selected On Center’s Oasis platform because we felt it was designed by people who knew our business, who knew what we needed for success. For us, one of the big advantages to the Oasis Platform is the ability to provide companywide access to current, centrally stored plans. This is a big deal when it comes to addressing issues like information gathering and sharing. For Marek, it’s literally a game-changer.
One of the biggest hemorrhages of time has involved securing and providing access to one set of plans that reflect current changes, and making this information available to everyone involved with a project. The Oasis cloud-based solution eliminates this issue. Everyone involved with a Marek project now has access to the most current set of plans, because now there is only ONE set of plans. And these plans are stored in a safe, secure location that is always available, 24/7, and accessible from anywhere.
Oasis has reduced the time spent on managing shared information between the office and the field by 5-10 percent and reduced takeoff time by 5-10 percent through streamlining the process.”
~ Paul Godwin,
BIM Manager, Marek ■
For More Information: Angelo M. Castelli, chief operating officer with On Center Software, brings 10 years of commercial construction experience as a chief estimator, project manager, and team manager to his duties, which include direct sales, channel partners, marketing, and R&D. Mr. Castelli serves on the firm’s executive Vision Team, a think-tank for the future of construction automation. For more, visit www.oncenter.com, or call 866.627.6246.
Modern Contractor Solutions, Buyers Guide – November 2015
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