Small businesses tend to get the short end of the stick when it comes to management software options. As an SMB you automatically have tighter operating costs (unless you were lucky enough to secure a wealthy investor), and may not be aware of all the available software platforms that can reform your business model. Even if you know about project management products, odds are you simply don’t think you can allocate the time or funds to introduce a new software platform.
Now it’s time to put that mindset to rest.
Small business owners, including those in the construction industry, can make much better use of their time and resources with a project management application. The question then boils down to what type of software a small construction company should invest in–a construction-specific project management product, or a more general project management version?
A multitude of incredibly helpful construction programs appear on today’s software market, with platforms that optimize project planning, track budgets, and organize client interactions. Even more impressive, however, is their continually expanding list of advanced features. Here are a few of the top qualities that make construction software attractive:
It manages your project documents. With the document management feature, all of your project plans exist on a single organized interface. The product also archives all of your past project documents, making it easy to refer to older plans for inspiration or clarification.
It uses SaaS as a delivery method. The cloud feature is not only beneficial as a way to minimize storage needs, but also as a tool for accessing your platform from any location. This is particularly convenient if your employees work from home or are often spread out at different work sites. In addition, many construction management programs offer a mobile app, which can come in handy for a business with active employees.
It addresses all of your fundamental business needs on one interface. Fiscal reports, project schedules, construction bids, customer communications, change orders — all of these components exist in one easy-to-access platform. The program will catalogue all of your important business details, which will save you from having to manually track and analyze your data.
It syncs with your accounting software. Most, if not all, of the latest construction management programs are capable of automatically importing fiscal data to an accounting software such as QuickBooks. Financial integration between the two products will allow you to focus less on importing information from one platform to another — which means you can allot more of your time to clients and projects.
In short, construction management software includes many tools that will ultimately improve the cohesion of a business — even an SMB. As with any product, however, construction software also has its share of disadvantages, particularly for smaller business owners.
There’s no doubt that the latest versions of construction software offer an abundance of impressive and productive features. But for an SMB, the question of cost versus ROI can be a crucial factor in determining the value of a construction management program. Thus, it’s important for SMBs to assess the most likely shortcomings of construction software:
Cost might outweigh ROI. Construction management programs tend to come with an eyebrow-raising price tag, particularly for small businesses with a limited number of clients (and resources). For some SMBs, incoming revenue flow may not be enough to cover the cost of the yearly subscription fee, let alone make a profit.
Simpler projects might become unnecessarily complicated. With a business that is relatively small and localized, management software might complicate rather than assist management efforts. A business that renovates small spaces or only takes on small jobs might find the software more time-consuming than helpful.
So how do SMBs know if a construction management product is a worthwhile investment? The best indicator if a smaller construction business will benefit from industry-specific management software is whether the pros outweigh the cons, or vice versa. Often the tie-breaker comes down to cost. A budget-friendly product such as BuildTools, which is designed specifically for smaller construction companies and offers a flat monthly rate, might be an industry-specific solution for that issue.
Yet in many cases, a small company just may not be able to afford the cost of a construction management platform. Should that be true for your SMB, don’t assume it means you need to do without project management software. There are many general project management products (think Clarizen and Genius Project) that offer expense tracking, project schedules, document management, and more at a relatively low monthly rate. Sure, these universal systems may not have construction-specific features, but with some customizing they’ll prove as valuable as their more expensive industry counterparts.
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