As a UDA Product Specialist, I spend a majority of my day working with construction professionals who are looking for software. These professionals range from Residential to Commercial, Design-Build firms to subcontractors, and large to small in company size and project scope. Every business is different, and while our software is designed to help just about anyone in this industry run a better business, we don’t take a one-size-fits-all approach with our clients. My job is to learn about the clients and their business, and act as a consultant to make the best recommendation for their specific needs. Sometimes, my recommendation ends up having to be that they need to take a step back and do some serious thinking before they will be ready to successfully implement software at their company.
I've outlined below the five most common instances I've encountered in companies that aren't ready for software. If these don't sound like your company, then you are ready to begin shopping for construction management software and primed for a success with this endeavor. If these do sound like your company, I would recommend putting some serious thought into how you plan to overcome these hurdles before you begin your software search:
1. You don’t know why you need software. Almost every conversation I have with a new lead starts the same way. I ask why they are looking for software, and I get a response that goes something like this: “I want something that is going to be all in one place – a one stop shop – that will help me streamline my day to day operations and make managing my projects easier”.
Now there’s nothing wrong with this answer. In fact, that’s exactly what ConstructionOnline does, so we’re on the right path. But if I’m the one on the phone with you, I’m going to ask for specifics. What are your pain points? Do you constantly come out of projects over budget? Behind schedule? Do you have trouble communicating between field and office? Do you need better ways to keep your clients informed? Better selections and change order processes?
These questions are important so that we can help you as you're getting started to focus on your biggest problems first - but there is another less obvious reason why this is critical: You need to have a baseline – some record of where you started so you will be able to look back and see how far you’ve come. Time and time again, I’ve seen companies abandon software because they don’t see the value, and they don’t see the value is because they don’t know what they’re measuring. If you don’t know what you’re working to improve, then you aren’t ready for software.
2. You think software will run your business for you. This one always catches me off guard. Too often I speak with potential clients who want to be able to boot up their software, enter a project name and a few details, and put the job on autopilot – only to check in when they need to see where the job stands. Questions like, “Will it tell me what materials I need to build this?” or “How come it doesn’t automatically know how long it’ll take based on what it costs?” come up almost daily. While it’s true that ConstructionSuite and ConstructionOnline can significantly expedite your estimating, scheduling, and other project tasks, it’s not going to do it properly without some input from you - the user.
As I said before, every company is different. Our sample content and templates provide a starting point and an example of how to use our software, but it’s up to you to tailor those for your business. We can’t do it for you, and neither can any other company out there – nobody knows your business like you do, so put that knowledge to work. Define your processes, implement them, and most importantly, make sure your team adheres to them. We can provide the hammer, but if you don’t swing it the right way it’s not going to get the job done.
Also, it’s probably a good thing that software can’t run your business without the user's input, or you’d be out of a job. Luckily for you (and me and all the other pros employed in this industry), this will always be the case. Construction is an art, and it’s also a science. It’s a dynamic world and things move at a fast pace. While you may think of software as a vessel that can carry you to your destination, it still must be told how to get there. If you're expecting hands-off business management, then you aren’t ready for software.
3.You don’t properly budget for software. I’m going to keep this one simple… every company out there can afford our software. No exceptions. If you think you can’t, then you’re either thinking about it wrong or you’re not really an established company. To show you what I mean, we’ll take a very conservative real-world example.
Let’s say your company makes in $500,000 in revenue per year. If you purchase the ConstructionOnline Commercial Unlimited package - the most expensive subscription option we offer - you’ll pay $6468 per year. This comes out to only 1.3% of your company’s overall budget for something that is impacting your entire company, every day. This doesn’t even account for all the time and money you’ll save by using the software, which often pays for itself within the first month. If you don't think your success is worth this kind of financial investment, then you’re not ready for software.
4. You’re stuck on how you used to do things. Imagine for a second that you’ve spent years doing grading work with nothing but basic tools - a shovel, a hoe, a tamp, and your keen eyesight. Then, after years spent perfecting your methods with your rudimentary tools, you're introduced to bulldozers, excavators, and graders. You see them in action, and know that with these new tools, you can get the same work done in a fraction of the time and with improved precision. Would it make sense to stick with your manual methods because they are what you are used and you don’t want to take the time to learn how to operate this new machinery?
Most construction professionals would agree that this sounds insane - if you can afford the equipment, then of course you would want to use it. However, this common-sense approach often falls short when it comes to software. Tools like ConstructionOnline offer a faster, more precise way to do the same work you’ve been doing. In many cases, this means a different way of doing these things – after all, you can’t expect to get new results with the same old methods. You don’t look for software because you’re doing everything perfectly, you look because there are areas of your business that need improvement. When you adopt a new software, embrace the new methods that will get you where you need to be. If you aren’t open to doing things differently, then you aren’t ready for software.
5. You don’t have the time. This is an excuse that anybody in the construction industry can use, yet only some companies do. When I’m told this is the reason for not getting on board with software, it always means one of two things:
- For some, it's not that you don’t have time, but that you won’t make time. Everybody has a limited amount of time to spend during the day and no shortage of choices on where it needs to be spent. If you would rather spend your time on matters other than software implementation, there’s nothing wrong with that, but it definitely means that you aren’t ready to invest the effort necessary to make a software solution work for your business.
- For others, there is less emphasis on the clock and more emphasis on the person – I personally don’t want to devote my time to the implementation of software. This often comes from company presidents that want to be involved in software selection, but can’t or won't make time to learn how to use the tools they're buying. Often, this individual isn't going to be using the software all that much anyway. To him, I say - delegate! Find someone on staff that you trust to head up the implementation and let them lead the charge.
Implementing software might be an uphill climb, but every day you put it off that hill gets steeper and steeper - and eventually, you will find yourself facing a mountain. If you can’t make time to invest in the success of your team, you’re not ready for software.
Whether you’re looking for construction management software or have already begun using it, these are all equally important points to consider heavily when evaluating the potential success of software at your company. I have helped hundreds of companies find success with UDA Software, and unfortunately, I've also encountered many failures along the way. Every failure I've witnessed can be attributed to one or more of the five instances I've outlined above. Every success I've witnessed can be attributed to proactively addressing the five instances I've outlined above. Which one will you be?