It seems that construction companies, large and small, are beginning to warm up to the idea of adopting tech solutions to make their lives, and workflows, easier. While it’s true just 57 percent of construction industry professionals say they’re considering adopting new construction technology, annual venture capital funding for construction software has skyrocketed in recent years—jumping from just $4.5 million in 2008 to $1.38 billion in 2018—showing the increased interest.
Despite the flood of new software across construction and the field service industries, one big problem remains: not all construction software is created equal, which makes searching for, narrowing down, and selecting which apps to go with difficult and time-consuming.
That’s exactly why we’ve put together 8 important questions to ask before investing in a particular construction software.
#1.) How long have they been in business?
One of the simplest and most effective ways to determine how legitimate a construction software is is to find out how long they’ve been in business. While a company being young doesn’t necessarily mean you should write them off, it does suggest you should approach them with a bit more caution than a business with a longstanding history of excellence. And with 9 out of 10 tech startups failing, the last thing anyone would want is for the software company they choose to end up going out of business two months after they get onboarded.
#2.) What are their customers—past and current—saying about them?
Looking through reviews, testimonials and case studies should be another important part of your screening process. You can sift through past customer reviews on sites like Capterra, Software Advice, and the iTunes App Store. Keep in mind though, response bias usually plays a part here in terms of reviews. Meaning, most customers who respond are either totally ecstatic or had a negative experience, while the majority of satisfied customers stay silent.
Looking through reviews, testimonials and case studies should be another important part of your screening process.
To see what the construction software’s current customers are saying about them, you can scan through the testimonials page or read their case studies on their website. You can also eavesdrop using social media by typing in the name of the app or company into the search bar on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, where customers often voice their experiences with the software.
#3.) Are any of your competitors, or industry friends, using them?
Hearing it from the horse’s mouth always holds more weight than listening to what a company says about themselves on their own website, or what a stranger says about them on Yelp. References, recommendations, and referrals from industry friends—even competitors—is a surefire way to know whether or not the software will be a good fit in helping your company’s particular situation.
#4.) Is the software mobile-friendly?
With 77 percent of U.S. adults now owning a smartphone, the meteoric rise of mobile phone usage around the United States and beyond is on full display. That’s exactly why it’s important to go with a partner agile enough to accommodate mobile devices. Having access to construction software on the go will help you stay efficient and won’t disrupt your workflow. On top of that, being mobile-friendly also shows the company is forward-thinking and is less likely to get left behind when it comes to advancing technology.
#5.) How will this software fit into your current workflow?
It’s important to not buy software simply because it’s what “everyone else is doing”. Instead, software solutions, especially in an industry as high stakes as construction, should be implemented to solve real problems. Whether it’s shaving off time spent on tedious tasks for your management team, boosting your bottom line, or making your job sites safer for your workers, only integrate tech where it fits into your current workflows and processes.
#6.) Is customer support an extra fee?
In a software-driven world, technical difficulties are almost sure to arise. That’s why another great question to ask is whether or not customer support is an extra fee. Even after you’ve paid the upfront fees, many construction softwares will leave you hanging when it comes to customer support since it isn’t covered by your initial, upfront payment.
Implementing a new software can be challenging, so having on-demand access to customer support to walk you through any hiccups will save your business precious time and money.
A follow-up question here is whether or not the customer support is U.S.-based. Oftentimes, to cut costs, companies hire third party agencies in India and other parts of the world to handle their incoming customer questions. In some cases this works, but in many other situations it’s an added benefit to have in-house customer support that’s close to the product and company itself. This will ensure you’re getting the highest quality service from people who know the product best.
#7.) How long is the onboarding process?
When you’re running a construction or field service company, every second counts and can either positively or negatively affect your bottom line. The longer it takes for a new software to get implemented, the longer your business goes without solving the problem it addresses. Not to mention, if an app takes months and months to successfully onboard, imagine how complex the product itself must be to operate on a daily basis, and get trained on.
Think twice about apps with free trials, as you’re often expected to onboard yourself during the free trial and go from there.
That said, think twice about apps with free trials, as you’re often expected to onboard yourself during the free trial and go from there. When you’re trying to fold a new software into you and your employees’ busy routines, having true onboarding support can help ensure you’re not wasting anyone’s time.
#8.) What size are the companies the software provider usually work with?
There are countless options out there when it comes to construction software, and few are a one-size-fits-all solution. Some apps are best used for smaller companies while others are ideal for large, enterprise-level corporations. Still others are scalable and have the ability to function well for a range of company sizes. Be sure to do your research and ask what size the companies are that the software generally works with, so you can get a tailor-made solution that’s right for you.
Implementing new construction software can be a little scary—oftentimes, it feels like you’re a gambler throwing dice at the table, fingers crossed that everything goes as planned. Luckily, today there are platforms available to help you curate the phony from the great, and questions to help guide you towards the best solution.
For over 20 years, ExakTime has proudly helped construction and field service industry professionals like you better manage their mobile workforces.