Contractors often have their own way of doing things and have gotten comfortable with the solutions they have, but whatever the size of the business, it is likely that improvements can be made, says Bluebeam Australia
The construction industry is filled with tales of software bought and never used.
For small businesses, the perceived cost of implementation is often enough to pause.
On a larger scale, concerns focus on implementation and compatibility with existing systems. These systems have sometimes been created in-house, at great investment, and maybe hard to move away from.
So, how do you choose the right software for you?
Scope it out
The first question is whether the software is replacing an analogue solution.
If so, it’s useful to map out the existing workflow in full and then overlay where software can do the same thing or remove stages.
This will highlight the functionality that you need in a way that is comparable with the current situation.
You should also consider what the main business need is that the software must address, is there anything already available within the business that can do the task and if software can replace existing tools or processes.
It’s important that when you evaluate your existing software stack you review your costs, whether the tools that you have are siloed or they integrate with other tools and workflows.
Don’t forget to consider the resource cost of these tools, such as maintenance time and equipment requirements, and whether any complementary software or plugins are also used.
When you know what you are looking for, it’s time to see what is available.
Customers often see three barriers to entry when purchasing software.
They are software cost (initial outlay and/or subscription); perceived risk of being ‘locked in’ with a provider; and time needed for implementation, including training.
As well as addressing these areas, the selection process should clearly tie back to your original business need.
Choose the right wins for the right audiences
The person using the tool will want to be more effective or do something in an easier way.
For the management team, it might be having more data to spot trends or an overall uplift in productivity and margin.
Having the right examples and an understanding of what is valuable to everyone who will benefit from the software is important for communicating the implementation.
You should look for:
- Time-based improvements: Does the software make a process quicker? Is there a spin-off benefit further along the process?
- Connectivity: How well does it integrate with existing solutions and technology?
- Wastage: Does it remove wasted effort, duplication or problems from the workflow?
- Risk: Does it mitigate or remove risk from the process?
- Implementation: Can it be easily rolled out?
The key to any new software rollout is to consult with the team beforehand. This will help you to get buy-in to the process.
During this process, you can identify champions, too. They will become the power users within the business and support implementation.
It’s then all about how much friction is caused during the initial rollout.
Some software may require a huge exercise to reconfigure systems and deploy new equipment, some are plug and play.
Customisation can be highly effective when it comes to successfully implementing a new system. Tactics such as introducing bespoke staff profiles or skinning the product to match the organisation’s brand and terminology all create familiarity, which improves take-up.
Stagger your approach
If you are just starting out on your construction software journey, use tools that are quick and easy to adopt that deliver recognisable gains as quickly as possible.
This will lay the groundwork for further additions later down the line.
When you have software with multiple uses, it can also be useful to bring in one piece of functionality at a time.
Taking this staggered approach avoids overwhelming people—one of the failure points with new software is when people feel that they cannot use it properly and therefore slip back to the old way of doing something.
And, if the software is replacing an existing process, you need to phase that process out as soon as possible, otherwise it will be tempting to fall back to the old methods if any teething issues are experienced with the new tool.
Once you’re up and running, it is important to look back and make sure that the software has delivered what you set out to do.
Common measures of success include the number of people using the software (perhaps a proportion of your workforce), time and cost savings achieved and user feedback – has it solved a problem and made things easier for your staff?