CCS Gulf’s Ian Hauptfleisch outlines some key factors to consider when choosing construction software
The modern software market is extremely competitive, with multiple providers supplying what can appear to be very similar solutions. In that environment, how can you choose the right provider for you? Of all the whistles and bells that may appear attractive, a business owner or manager with a strategic outlook will know to look for a solution that offers routing and workflow.
A key challenge to adapting the right solution is that a considerable number of businesses view construction management systems as something they have to adopt, rather than understanding fully the benefits and ROI. This can often lead to a solution being selected on the basis of price rather than suitability.
Where businesses take the time to align the selection of their software solution to the tactical and strategic plans of their organisation, the benefits are amplified exponentially and drive effectiveness through ensuring the work they bid for is profitable, that the projects they carry out retain margin, manage or even reduce infrastructure and IT expenses, and minimise commercial and corporate risk.
Where consideration is given to these factors, selecting a software partner becomes more focused in ensuring they will deliver and implement the tools to handle these requirements at the same time as refining both internal and external process and procedures. In fact, the right software will in many respects automate the vast majority of these while identifying risks, challenges and issues requiring attention.
What should you be looking for in a construction software partner? You will be best served by a solution that has workflow and routing. Let’s take a look at a few examples.
Bidding for Profitable Work – At the bidding stage of a potential project, stakeholders and actions can be pre-determined, ensuring all these elements can be managed and carried out effectively and consistently. Your construction software will ensure that all the internal and external partners who need to input elements to your bids will be provided with the right information at the right time through workflow and routing, allowing them to respond effectively.
Retaining Margin – Management of correspondence, RFIs, change orders and status (to name a few) are commonly identified challenges in the construction industry. Effective document routing and timely identification of approaching or missed due dates vastly mitigates risk and reduces the chance of error. Efficient management of change orders in itself has a visible and identifiable impact on the final margins.
Minimise Commercial and Corporate risk – Managing elements such as payment approvals and accounts payable should be routed within the software system. This routing function looks after these processes and allows for situations such as the primary signatory being absent, to ensure delays are not encountered. Delays in payments out (and of course invoices to payments in) are a core and common cause of delays and overruns that present significant commercial risk in the modern world, where margins are typically less than 10%. Corporate risk is further reduced when dealing with subcontractors, for example where elements of pre-qualification and progress tracking are used.
Management or Reduction of Infrastructure Costs – Having best practice automation embedded in your system and processes allows maximum efficiency. Removing manual processing and data collation frees up your personnel to carry out work that requires human interaction and attention, rather than tying up hours, days or weeks completing tasks that the systems can accurately complete in moments. This can lead to requiring fewer staff (and less cost) or ensuring you gain maximum productivity from those individuals in the core specialisations they cover.
As a construction professional, you apply fundamental principles to how you go about building a structure. You make a plan and consider contingencies and variations. Apply the same principle to choosing your software partner. Plan what you want to achieve from the system, to make sure you get the best fit for your business.