The Bolt Subcontractor Blog

3 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Subcontractor Software

Posted by Sam Knight on Mar 12, 2018 3:04:24 PM
Sam Knight

 

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You’re probably thinking “Its time. Time to make one of the most important decisions I will make for my company. Time to choose the software that will be at the foundation of all that we do.” So what do most people do? We start searching the internet for using search terms like “subcontractor software, construction management software, contractor software, and best contractor software.” As you have probably discovered, trying to sift through the thousands of software companies in the world is confusing and complicated and your probably now asking yourself “why on earth can’t this just be simple?” Well, your now in the right spot. Use this guide to simplify the process and pick the software best suited for your needs. If your answers to these questions raise red flags in your mind, it could be an indicator to look somewhere else. 

1 – Is it Simple?

Time for a little history lesson about software. Back in the day, software was complicated. So complicated that most of it was custom built, not very user friendly, and it was usually too expensive for subcontractors to even consider it as an option for their business. Remember the old Microsoft operating systems and the “blue screen of death”? Remember having to spend 4-5 hours with customer support only to find out that you lost everything? Lets fast forward to the present day. Frankly, software doesn’t have to be complicated anymore, it can be user friendly, and its economically an option for subcontractors. Unfortunately, most of the old school software companies had a hard time making the switch to the current age of simple, cloud based, easy to use, fast to set up, mobile software.

Here are some additional questions to ask yourself about the software you’re looking into.

  • Is this software specifically for my industry? Within the contracting world, there are software’s for General Contractors, Builders, Service Oriented Subcontractors, Project Oriented Subcontractors, and more.
  • Do they say that the program can do everything? There are no software programs that do everything at an excellent level. The good ones will tell you exactly what they do excellently, and exactly what they lack.
  • Do they use phrases like “module” to describe the features? Good software’s do not have “add-ons”. If its not built into the program, don’t expect the “module” to be as good”.
  • Do you have to host it on a local server? If not, where is the server?
  • When was the company founded? This will be a good indicator of if it’s a modern company.
  • Does the user experience remind you of other modern software’s that you use? It should be as simple as setting up and using your Facebooks account.
  • Could a 3rd grader use the software? This is by far the most important question. We're in a low tech industry and it’s a waste of time to learn a complicated system.           

 

 

 

2 – Is it Fast?

The subcontractor world is competitive. Some would say its insanely competitive. Your ability to do the job fast, and without error is one of the major things that separates your company from the rest of the pack. You should expect the same from the software company that you choose to work with. Someone will have to implement and set up the software, someone will add all your company data, someone train your employees, and you will use it in the field. How fast can things be done without error?

Here are some additional questions to ask yourself about the software you’re looking into.

  • How fast can they get me live? 4 weeks or less is a good target.
  • Do they set up my software for me? If not, self setup takes more of your time.
  • Who inputs all the historical job data? This depends on how big of a company you are.
  • Who trains my employees, and how long will that take? It should only take 30 minutes’ maximum.
  • How do you train an employee who doesn’t like technology? If they can’t answer this confidently, its going to be a slow process getting this employee up to speed.
  • How fast do you respond to my emails? This indicates the level of help you will get after being a customer.
  • How easy is it to get ahold of customer support? Try it out. Ask to call the account manager that will be helping you once you’re a customer.
  • How long does implementation and training take? If its more than 5-6 hours, ask why.
  • What is the historical system down time? If the system goes down, you wont have access to your company data.

3 – Is it Mobile?

The definition of Mobile is being “able to move or be moved freely or easily.” In the modern age, a good software program moves with you on the go, and it moves your data to other programs with ease. You may hear terms like “open API” meaning the software can send your data to with other software programs. The reason mobility is so important is because there is no software can be everything to all people. A good software company is confident enough to tell you exactly what they are good at, and exactly what they are bad at. Its in your best interest to know ahead of time what a software can or cannot do at an excellent level. In the modern age, if a software company is bad at something, they have an open API and usually an integration with a company that does that task at an excellent level. On top of that, if you can’t access your software on your cell phone, that’s should be a deal breaker.

Here are some additional questions to ask yourself about the software you’re looking into.

  • Do they have an open API? If not, that is a huge red flag.
  • What integrations do they already have? If they don’t, they might be a company that thinks they can be all things to all people. If they do, its an indicator that they know exactly what they are good and not good at doing.
  • Are there mobile applications? Ideally they should have Android and iOS applications.
  • What does the mobile view look like from my cell phone internet browser? It should format to fit the screen of your mobile device. If not, you’re just looking at the desktop view from your mobile browser.
  • Are they 100% cloud based and can I access my software from anywhere? If not, its not mobile.
  • Is the mobile view, or mobile application even simpler to use than the desktop version? Being mobile should be simpler than the desktop and should simply take you to the information you need on the go.

 

Hopefully this helps guide you down the complicated path of choosing your software. If you need more information and advice on the topic of subcontractor software, do not hesitate to reach out to us for help. We are here to serve.

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Tags: homebuilding, scheduling, subcontractor, software