The volatility within our economic climate, which has had an impact on most industries across the board, has had even more negative impacts to industries such as construction. In an article recently published by Forbes, the main challenges this sector is facing today are:1
The rising costs of materials and the shortages in supply
Unpredictable weather patters
The accelerated pace of technological developments
While the first three challenges can be classified as macro level challenges, the fourth applies to construction firms — keeping pace with technological needs is something that leaders within this space can take control of. Within this, most small businesses, which have historically run on legacy tools, are now at a point where investing in a construction-specific management software is the best way forward. What’s more, with so many options in the market today, there are many options that are designed for smaller businesses.
The Role of Contractor Software in Small Business Success
Small business software for contractors is designed to help these types of firms run and manage their construction business effectively by giving them the ability to set project timelines, keep budgets up-to-date, use project management tools, manage construction projects, and share information with subcontractors, vendors, and customers all in one place. Most often, subcontractors are not only inundated with project-specific tasks to ensure timely project delivery — from pre-construction to project closeout. Using a robust tool is instrumental to minimizing delays, downtime and rework.
Project leaders also need to be on top of bidding and procurement activities, managing third party platforms, monitoring project costs, communications between the field and office teams and catering to their team’s training needs. It then becomes critical to effectively manage communications between various stakeholders and keep track of all project data and updates. On top of that, decision makers have also recognized the importance of advanced document management capabilities. The reason for this is that from a liability standpoint, gaps in safety documentation and procedures can lead to substantial risks and fines.
When contractors are looking for a platform to align with their business needs, the first thing to keep in mind is that there is no one size fits all solution for small business construction management software. As such, the first course of action is to identify your firm’s key pain points and find a software platform that will address them.
The First Step: Asking the Right Questions to the Right Stakeholders
Experts recommend that you begin by asking the right questions to the right people within your organization:
What are your short-term and long-term business (and technology) plans?
What systems or processes are you looking to eliminate, improve, add, or streamline?
What are your specific targets and KPIs for using the software?
What key features are most important to your business?
What technology infrastructure are you working with?
What is your budget, and how much are you willing to invest to level up?
Initiating the Software Evaluation Journey: The Importance of Robust Project Management Capabilities
After identifying your needs, the next step is to begin your construction project management software evaluation journey. Look specifically for a small construction company software that will not only address your basic requirements, but also can be customized further to address your unique business needs. At the top of the list for most small construction firms that are in the process of choosing small contractor software is that they require a platform that offers robust project management capabilities. This includes capabilities such as task scheduling, document management, construction project planning, resource allocation, progress tracking, material job costing, and collaboration features. Effective project management capabilities will help streamline workflows and ensure projects stay on track and on budget.
Doing Your Due Diligence: Key Recommendations and Considerations
Here are some key deciding factors to help make the software evaluation journey easier so you can accelerate time to value.
1. The software solution should help your finance team manage their accounting processes and documentation.
Another important aspect to look at when shortlisting small contractor software is selecting one that provides comprehensive cost management and accounting features that are designed to replace outdated or legacy tools. The solution should give you the ability to track project expenses, manage budgets, generate invoices, and manage payroll with ease.
2. It should have mobile functionality.
In today’s mobile-driven world, having small business construction management software with mobile functionality is mission-critical to ensure a “connected workforce,” from field to the office. A solution that provides mobile functionality (across all devices) allows team leaders to manage projects, communicate with teams, vendors and suppliers, and access project data all in real-time.
3. Select a software provider with flexible deployment options, based on your firm’s technology infrastructure.
Many small business construction software providers today offer both an on-premise and cloud (or SaaS-based) deployment option. While many small businesses opt for SaaS or cloud-based deployment options, here are the benefits to both options:
Scalability: Scales easily to accommodate growing volumes of data and an increasing number of users.
Automatic Updates: Providers manage updates, ensuring the system is always up-to-date.
Cost-Efficiency: Reduces upfront infrastructure costs and eliminates the need for in-house server maintenance.
Full Control: Provides complete control over the ERP environment, including security measures and customization.
Data Localization: Sensitive data remains within the company’s physical control, addressing data sovereignty concerns.
4. It should be easy to use.
Evaluate the level of training and support provided by the software vendor. With construction being a labor-intensive and task-driven industry, small business construction management software requires that users should be able to learn the solution quickly and looking at it through the lens of management, adoption rates should be high. It’s important that the software provider provides sufficient documentation, a vast array of tutorials, and different types of customer support options to ensure that all users will be proficient. Further, a solution that has easy-to-use capabilities will also help drive collaboration, streamline workflows and reduce miscalculations, errors, and risk.
5. When your business grows, your software should be able to scale alongside it.
While you may be a small business today, selecting software that can scale with your business growth is key to your long-term vision. Shortlisting providers who have a wide spectrum of capabilities, features and integration partners can easily support business expansion in the future.
Your Final Steps Before Investing in the Right Construction Management Solution
Before making a final decision on your construction management software for small business, it’s recommended that you view at least one extensive demo of the platform, and engage in the right conversations, with a strong focus on your business pain points and future goals. Find a software vendor that provides referenceable clients and has a proven track record with success stories that they can share with you. It’s also advisable that for your selection process you engage with firms that have successfully completed platform implementations for subcontractors and or small construction firms.
The CMiC Advantage for Small Business
At CMiC, we are an industry-leading provider of construction software, delivering a next generation construction ERP built on a Single Database PlatformTM. We are the software of choice for 25% of ENR’s top 400 contractors, providing robust financial and project management solutions to small, mid-sized and enterprise construction firms. By design, our robust capabilities can help you optimize productivity, minimize risk and drive growth.
CMiC Financials are designed to help construction firms manage accounting, human capital/payroll, inventory and equipment — effortlessly. Within this category, key solutions include Accounting, HR & Payroll, Opportunity Management (CRM) and Resource Planning and Inventory & Equipment Management.
CMiC Project Management, as part of our construction management suite enables teams to collaborate with project stakeholders, control project changes, manage subcontractor tasks, stay on top of material suppliers and simplify the bid process. Key applications include: Bidding & Procurement, Project Management, Drawing Management and Project Controls.
Why Leading Subcontractors are Turning to CMiC as their Construction ERP Platform of Choice
At CMiC, we understand the key challenges of subcontractors:
Inaccurate or incomplete time capture on the jobsite.
Loss of revenue or payments because of changed orders that weren’t documented or invoiced properly.
Increasing need for administrative tasks as a part of project execution.
Through our industry-specific software, we help small construction businesses exceed their business goals by:
Replacing their single-focused accounting system through our all-in-one construction ERP system.
Optimizing their time and materials contracting strategy.
Track labor time reliably with a system that unifies HCM, job costing and GL into a single platform.