What Contractors Look for in Software Today
Well, a lot of them look for no more than MS Outlook to get e-mails, Word so they can write stuff and their QS’s look for Excel spreadsheets. In view of that what I’m going to do is rephrase the blog Title to: – What contractors should look for in software today.
The main convincer for contractors looking at construction software is that it actually reduces costs. If the software can remove the need for paperwork on a project that is a great saver of capital expenditure and also peoples’ time – and peoples’ time costs money!
Now, if that software contractors should be looking for just incidentally happens to accelerate their projects while reducing costs, that equates to another money-saver!
The software has to be sufficiently advanced so that it is available to absolutely everyone involved in a construction project. This makes all information instantly available to everyone and saves having to mess about sending letters or e-mails to all and sundry.
When I was first introduced to GenieBelt all I had pushed under my nose the bit of the software dealing with Requests For Information (RFI’s). I used to work freelance specialising in project turnaround. I’d get a contract and begin sorting the job out. Often I would then get lumbered with finding out why the project was running late. The title of what I had to do is “Forensic Delay Analysis”. The reason contractors wanted this doing was to try and avoid being put out of business by the Liquidated and Ascertained Damages (LAD) associated with Delay. Lacking a good argument against that, the contractor would automatically be lumbered with the LAD.
Now what I frequently found was that the true cause of Delay was actually that RFI’s hadn’t been responded to within the contractually specified time (usually 7 days). If work ground to a halt for an extra week every time the Architects or Consultants didn’t come back in time, then Delay was their fault and liability! I immediately realised that if the GenieBelt construction software made every party to the project aware that information was desperately needed, and then whoever was to provide it would be on the ball or labelled “right useless plonkers”. It would also have them high-lighted as the ones to be hammered for the Delay costs!
I suppose that bit of blethering also tells us something else contractors should be looking for in their software today! It needs to be available to every party involved in the project so that everyone knows what is going on. There does need to be the ability to be selective about what individuals know; information over-load is to be avoided. That means headers for topics that only get clicked on if relevant to the individual.
This is 2016 and everyone has some techie thing, be it PC, Tablet or Smart Phone. If the construction software is able to be used on all of these then no capital expenditure is required. Also the software should allow input by all those involved. For example, if the sewers have just been connected to the mains and the ganger man can put that on the software as he is having his cuppa, no waste of anyone else’s time! For him to be able, and even willing, to do that, the software has to be very user-friendly.
So let’s begin to look at the wider requirements. Construction projects require vast amounts of information to pour back and forth. This starts with Pre-start stuff like drawings and Specs. Then we have Progress Reports, Memos, Programmes, De-snag Lists, Evidential Photos – sorry, but I can’t be bothered listing it all! We all know how much paperwork there is! But for the contractor looking for software today?
What they should be looking for is software that completely eliminates all paperwork and shows the photos! That will reduce overhead costs. As a simple spin-off it will be software that accelerates work and, because people have more time on their hands without that, will allow more detailed site supervision with resultant higher standards of workmanship.
Linked to that is one vital thing which is so often totally absent from a project – a Detailed Programme of Work. With that to hand everyone knows what they should be doing in the future and will have manpower and material queued up ready to go! And that is required in software for contractors.
I’ll end with a little hint! The only construction software I’m aware of, globally, which offers contractors everything they need is, wait for it …GenieBelt!