Software Trends in the Construction Industry

Article written by Astrid Young and Randi Sherman, and appeared on the Dexter + Chaney blog

When construction companies experience growth, there is a need to streamline business processes, boost efficiency, and make the most of their administrative time. Though the construction industry has significantly ramped up its adoption of new technologies in recent years, there are still some growing pains and learning curves when it comes to pulling the trigger on software.

With many companies today, the need for a solution becomes apparent at a certain level, such as when there is an increase in the volume of work, during times of expansion, or when new hires need to be trained. Alternately, it could be that a costly mistake was made somewhere down the line, or a dispute or lawsuit occurs, highlighting the need to take a more disciplined approach to business and project management.

Smaller construction companies still tend to lag behind in terms of software integration. According to a recent study published by Software Advice, the majority still use a manual system or a spreadsheet as their current method.

Software Advice also surveyed prospective buyers to better understand what functionalities are influencing their purchasing decisions. Their key findings include:

  • 60% of those surveyed want estimating capabilities
  • 24% are looking to improve tracking and transparency
  • 50% are using manual systems for project management, bid preparation and takeoff calculation

Eileen O'Loughlin, a market research associate for Software Advice, speaks to their 2016 study of construction software buyer trends, and notes that estimates and takeoff are the most-often requested functions, while contractors are looking for technology solutions that make the building process more efficient.

“Accounting and job costing is one of the top-requested software capabilities by contractors in our recent analysis of SMB construction software buyer trends,” O’Loughlin said. “Thirty-seven percent of buyers are looking for core accounting modules (GL, AP, AR) as well as job-specific budgeting and cost control. Many of these buyers are looking to track projects alongside their accounting and are looking to switch from a general accounting software, such as QuickBooks, to a more industry-specific solution."

Currently, there are some very robust options available with construction-specific enterprise resource planning (ERP) software packages. These “all-in-one” platforms address many of contractors’ challenges and pain points, by speeding up or automating processes and delivering defined workflows, tracking project data from conception through completion, increasing analytic abilities, and improving accuracy, transparency and compliance.

When working with non-ERP or standalone software, companies may need to combine one or more function-specific solutions to accomplish desired goals, and, ideally, these solutions will be able to easily integrate with existing accounting and project management platforms.

According to Software Advice, small to medium construction companies with growth prospects should consider investing in an integrated project management and accounting package, or a complete ERP platform. The saved time and resources and extra profit they can ultimately add to the bottom line are worth the investment.

 
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