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Construction Software Buyer's Guide - Other Features To Compare

Construction Software Buyer's Guide - Other Features To Compare

Published: 03/28/2011

» Software
»» Construction Software

Other Features To Compare

In addition to the financial aspects, there are other important features to consider when evaluating construction software.

 

 

 

Project management

 

Project management components for construction software combine several functions. At a minimum, they should offer the features of standard scheduling software such as timelines, daily logs, dependencies, and notifications. It should also be easy to view your most urgent tasks and the overall scope of the project.

 

 

Contractors who manage multiple jobs that share resources should choose software that provides scheduling and tracking for equipment, employees or teams, and suppliers or vendors. For jobs with service components, look for software that lets you schedule appointments for your technicians, as well.

 

 

The project management functionality can also provide communication benefits. It can make it easy to notify all members of a team if a schedule changes, as well as allowing you to track the reasons for all changes.

 

 

 

Maintenance management

Some construction software packages include maintenance tracking modules that can dramatically improve scheduling of routine tasks. Fleet management features can provide scheduling and maintenance tracking for your vehicles and equipment, while other maintenance applications focus on building systems, such as tracking HVAC maintenance or roofing inspections.

 

 

While these features can be included in construction software, they're often marketed and sold as stand‐alone maintenance management software. Depending on your budget and maintenance tracking needs, you should consider focusing on the job costing and estimating features for your construction software, and adding a maintenance package later.

 

 

 

Reporting

 

A package may include dozens or even hundreds of standard reports. They can range from high‐level overviews of an entire project to detailed reports on specific activities.

 

 

The sheer number of reports can be overwhelming, so don't try to investigate every one. Instead, look carefully at the top level reports and "dashboards." These reports should give you the essential information you need about the job at a glance.

 

 

The ability to customize reports to your liking is a big benefit. Most construction software supports this, either through built‐in editing and configuration, or by supporting external reporting software. Look for a system that lets you export data in a format you can use, whether that's Crystal Reports, Excel, or some other format.

 

 

 

Security

Any computer system that contains your confidential accounting information needs to be reliably protected against unauthorized access and malicious attacks. Reputable construction software should have passwords and other security measures as a standard layer of security. Many software packages also offer audit trails that track all changes and who was responsible for each.

 

 

More flexible systems offer multiple levels of security. Users can be assigned to groups that have varying rights: managers may be able to change information on any job they're assigned to, while contractors can only view the current info, but not update it. For wide‐ranging implementations that are used across different departments or companies, this is an essential feature to look for.

 

 

 

Integration

Chances are you'll need your construction software to work with some other software you're already using. This may include your existing accounting system, payroll tracking software, or any type of construction software you currently use. As we mentioned above, you'll have to take the time to think through all the integration points you're looking for.

 

 

However, don't just ask the vendor if their software can be integrated with your existing systems – ask how they'd do it. Some companies provide built‐in APIs or plug‐ins to connect to popular software but may charge steep hourly or project fees for more complex or customized integration.