Ok, you’ve broken down what you need in a construction project management software package, you have an idea of what you need your software to do, it’s time to do some research into what different software packages offer. I’m going to skip reviewing Excel and QuickBooks here and go on to the software packages.
A) Go on-line, punch in “construction project management software”. You will be presented with a bunch of websites. Go beyond the first page of Google. Most are web sites for software companies. Start checking them out. Get an idea of what they do and what they cost.
Start a spreadsheet to record your observations. What will the software: do, cost, take to implement, what is the software company staff’s attitude, anything, and everything? Put it all on a common spreadsheet so you can visualize which software offers which advantages.
B) Make some calls, talk to the sales people, ask for demonstrations. They can do this by presenting their computer screen on your monitor, while they talk to you on the phone. They can walk you through the whole program. Are there free trial periods available so you can play with the software? When you start narrowing down what will be right for you, go back for another demonstration to see what you missed. Try doing entries yourself Take notes! Features, price, write it all down on your spreadsheet.
Get the sales staff to document all the costs associated with this product? This should include: Initial costs, license fees, ongoing maintenance costs, upgrades, annual tax tables, phone support, training and help with implementation. Know what your costs will be before you commit.
Go through the list, you will get quite an education just going through the demonstrations. You will learn about capabilities that you didn’t know were available. Note the sales people’s attitude. Is this somebody you want to work with? Do these people care what you need or are they just focusing on selling you what they have? Consider what this software will do for you vs. how much it will cost. This change is supposed to be making you more profitable.
C) Consider implementation. Once you’ve narrowed down your choice ask yourself, will your staff utilize this software? How will they like it? What do they think of it? Get a demonstration done where your key staff can be part of it. It is important to get your staff’s buy-in before you make your final decision. You want them to embrace this change, to be excited about it.
D) Get references from the salespeople for others that have implemented this program. Call them; go see the program in action. Benefit from their experience with this management tool.
E) What will you have to do to get up and running? Is there training available? Is there help available to get the program set up? What is support like? Are there consultants available, in your area, to help you solve set up problems?
It is important to keep recording your information on your spreadsheet. It is easy to get overwhelmed by all that you are learning. Keep learning, recording and examining and the solution for your company will become clear.
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