There are a myriad of general contractor software packages on the market today, so no matter what you’re looking for, there should be a product out there for you. The big question is: What are you looking for? Let’s face it; your expertise is in construction, not software. So what should you be looking for?
First of all, you should determine all of the functions that you need the general contracting software to perform. Are you just looking for an accounting program? Estimating? Customer Management? Decide what you want the program to do, then you can narrow your search to those general contractor software applications that perform those functions.
But what if you’re not sure what tasks you need the program to perform? Or what if you decide after purchasing a program that you need more functionality than you originally thought? In any case you probably want to buy an all-in-one general contractor software package from the start. These packages contain all of the functionality that most general contractors need to run their business.
Some things to consider when looking for general contractor software:
1. Does it contain all of the features that you need (i.e. scheduling, accounting, customer management, estimating, job cost, document management, marketing, etc.)?
It is much easier to buy and learn one piece of contractor software than it is to buy one for accounting, another for estimating, a third for marketing, and on and on. This also helps cut down on your workload because you won’t have to enter data several times into all these different programs. Since everything is integrated into one application, you only need to enter your data once.
2. Is it easy to use?
You probably don’t have time to wade through several hundred pages of an instruction manual or take a night class for weeks to learn how to use your general contractor software. You should be able to sit down and quickly become comfortable with the interface and be able to at least do some simple tasks. After all, you bought the software to save you time, not give you more work.
3. Are there hidden costs?
A lot of contractor software companies offer their product at a low cost to entice you, but when you really look at it, the upgrades and add-ons quickly jack up the price. Some companies only offer some of the features in their low price product. So, if you want the accounting features, it’s extra. If you want estimating, it’s extra. Some companies even charge a yearly support and upgrade fee that you’ll need to take into account. Another thing to consider with out of the box software is how long it will be until the product is out of date. It may seem like a bargain at first, but if you need to buy the newer version of the software again in two or three years, how much are you actually saving?