The Construction Management Software Buyers Guide
Pro Tips

The Construction Management Software Buyers Guide

BuildBook Team
April 25, 2022
Updated:
April 25, 2022

When it comes to managing your residential construction projects and business, most custom home builders and remodelers tend to go with either one of two approaches:

  1. They use a stitched-together system of notepads, text messages, email, spreadsheets, and other tools.

  2. They use construction project management software.

Those that use the first approach eventually make their way to the second approach after they discover that it’s nearly impossible to keep track of every conversation, decision, and detail of a project when nothing is in the same place. 

The fact is, there are many reasons why construction companies eventually decide to use construction software to manage their projects and business, but here are 6 of the biggest reasons

  1. To reduce project delays and miscommunication
  2. To keep each project organized and in one place
  3. To access anything you need from anywhere and at any time
  4. To save drive time and needless expenses
  5. To improve communication with team and clients
  6. To increase the efficiency and profitability of projects

Even with as many advantages as there are, moving over to construction management software for home builders and remodelers isn’t just as simple as picking whichever software you find first. 

Finding the best construction management software for home building and remodeling

There are a lot of construction management software options to choose from, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Without proper evaluation, many home builders and remodelers end up wasting precious time trying out different platforms until they ultimately find the one that’s right for them. 

While testing out several options is sometimes the prudent thing to do when making a purchasing decision, it can also take a considerable amount of time — something that most residential construction companies don’t have much of these days. 

Some of the bigger software choices can take months (or even years) to fully learn and adapt to your business. Not only is that time lost, but it also means your business isn’t benefiting from a tool that ultimately is meant to be improving your business.

The goal of this article is to provide you with the framework you need to discover which construction management software is right for you and your business — saving you both time and money. 

Before going further, it’s worth mentioning that we are the creators of BuildBook, one of the construction software options you might be considering. Before you chalk this up to “fake news”, you should know that we make no recommendations for any particular software in this article, including our own. We’re here to equip you with the knowledge to make that decision on your own. 

With that being said, let’s dig in. 

How to discover the right construction management software

Before you start exploring which software options are available, it’s important to first have an idea of what you’re looking for. 

To help illustrate the point, imagine you were looking to get your kitchen remodeled. You could save a lot of time by looking for a kitchen remodeling specialist rather than a custom home builder, right? 

There are three basic questions that will help you discover what software is right for your business, which we’ll dive into in more detail in this article.

  1. What is the biggest challenge you need to solve in your business?
  2. What benefit is most important to you?
  3. What is the one feature you need over anything else? 

Answering these three questions will drastically narrow down your search and save you a ton of time. 

We’ll review each of these questions in more detail below and also provide you with the answers we’ve gathered from 1000’s of other construction companies  — allowing you to see how your needs match up with everyone else’s. 

Discovering Your Biggest Need

Question 1: What is the biggest challenge you need to solve in your business?

It seemed like every builder I spoke to was trying to solve the same problem, yet none of them had found the answer.
- Brady Johanson, Brady Colt Custom Homes  

Believe it or not, most home builders and remodelers are all dealing with - or have dealt with - the exact same challenges, and looking to solve the exact same issues.  

Having said that, the most common challenges that construction companies need to solve fall into one of the following categories:

  1. Project management (scheduling and tasks)
  2. Team and client communication (See our $7,000 mistake)
  3. Budget tracking
  4. Project estimating
  5. Client management
  6. Lead generation
  7. Sales and proposals
  8. Invoicing

Of course, there are other needs you might have, such as finding more employees (amirite?), but that’s not something that a construction management software is going to help you address, so it’s important to think about this in the context of what challenges construction software can help you solve.

Discovering which benefit you care most important

Question 2: What benefit is most important to you?

When your clients want to build or renovate a home, they are making a lot of big decisions. If they don’t have any result in mind to guide their choices, their project can go over budget or throw off the schedule. 

This is true for any decision, including choosing what construction management software you should use for your business and projects. 

Determining what benefit is most important to you could make the difference between 1. spending a year learning software that has every feature under the sun,  or 2. using software with fewer features that you can learn in a day.

When considering what benefit you care most about, it comes down to three simple choices:

  1. Simplicity: It needs to be easy to use and quick to implement across your company 
  2. Price: It needs to be the most affordable option
  3. Features: It needs to have every feature you will ever need in one solution

Keep in mind that this is a ranking, not a single decision. If you decide that simplicity is more important to you than features, it doesn’t mean that you’ll be limited to options that don’t offer the features you need. 

Consider this more as a guiding principle to help narrow down your search and help you make the correct decision for your business in less time. 

For example, if you decide to prioritize simplicity, but still need certain features, you can start by evaluating what features are offered by the software that’s easiest to learn — which just narrowed your choices down by more than 50%. 

Discovering the feature(s) you need most

Question: What is the one feature you need over anything else? 

If you’re like many other home builders and remodelers who are looking for construction management software, you are probably using a mixture of tools to manage your business and projects. 

Maybe you’re using Excel to manage your schedule and task lists, Quickbooks to manage your estimates and budgets, Salesforce to manage your CRM, etc. 

In construction management software, each of these individual tools you’re currently using are just features. 

And, just to save you time in discovering this yourself: you’ll be hard-pressed to find any project management software platform on the market that will replace every tool you’re using now — which is why deciding which feature(s) matter most to you is so critical. 

The good news is if you’ve already answered the first question and determined your biggest challenge, the feature that you need most will be easy to figure out. 

For example, if your biggest challenge is project scheduling, the most important feature you should be considering in your decision is the software’s scheduling feature. Makes sense, right?

Some of the most common construction management software features that you’ll want to consider are as follows (in no particular order):

  1. Scheduling
  2. Budget tracking
  3. Client selections management
  4. Change order management
  5. Task management
  6. Team and client communication
  7. Daily logs
  8. Document and photo storage
  9. Invoicing and payments

As mentioned previously, it will be difficult for you to find a construction management solution that can replace everything you’re currently using to run your business — and if you happen to find one that does, it’s likely to come at the cost of simplicity and functionality.

As they say, a jack of all trades is a master of none.  

That’s why it’s essential to focus on the features that matter most - because you can always stick with other tools for the areas you don’t need to improve. For example, if you’re happy using Quickbooks for your invoicing and payments, you really don’t need construction management software that can replace it.

Protip: Be conscience of software descriptions … Construction Management Software includes features specific to many parts of a project (and beyond) while tools like Construction Scheduling Software or Construction Estimating Software are specific to just one part of a project.

How to choose the best construction management software 

Finding the right construction software options

Once you’ve answered the three questions we outlined above, you’re ready to evaluate the various software options that best align with your criteria.

The simplest way to get started is with … you guessed it, a search on Google (or whatever search engine you prefer). 

You can begin by using broad search terms such as “construction project management software” or you can start narrowing your results by including some of your criteria within your search. For example, “residential construction software”, “simple construction software” or “best construction software for scheduling.” 

Your search results will provide you with a list of software that best matches your terms as well as links to directories such as Capterra and GetApp that will provide you with a more generic list of software simply based on the construction category. 

These directories can be a great place to conduct research and find authentic reviews from customers, but keep in mind that these sites make their money from software companies like us that pay to show up higher on the lists. So, it’s important to remember that how the software ranks doesn’t necessarily equate to how relevant it is for your search. 

Evaluating and choosing the best construction software option

Once you’ve found a few options that match your needs, it’s time to evaluate each of them individually. 

Here are a few great ways to research and evaluate construction management software options:

  1. Visit the company website - Explore what the product looks like, what features it has to offer, and what it does best. Also take time to learn about the company, the team, and what they stand for. (Example: The BuildBook Way)

  2. Read customer case studies and reviews - Are the customer case studies relatable to you and your business? Are the problems that led them to the software similar to yours? What do people like and dislike the most about the software in the reviews?

  3. Evaluate the available plans and pricing - Are the pricing plans reasonable for your business? Are you going to have to pay more for the features you need? Are there any hidden fees?
     
  4. Sign up for a free trial - Can you try the product for free before purchasing it? If so, sign up and give it a spin. Invite your team to try it as well. Does it feel smooth and easy to use? What does your team think?

  5. Sign up for a demo - If there isn’t a free trial available, or if you’d prefer to get a tour of the product, book a demo with the company. Beyond seeing the product, how was your experience with the company? Were they just pushing the sale or were they making sure their product was right for your business?
     
  6. Reach out and ask questions - How knowledgeable was the team? How quick were they to respond? Did you feel like their level of support was good enough should you have issues after purchasing the product?

These are just a few of the many things you can do to evaluate and narrow down which construction project management solution is right for your business. Ultimately though, it’s up to you to decide what matters most in your decision. 

Seeing how your construction software needs compare

While it’s important to base your decisions on your own needs, it’s always helpful when you have a benchmark to compare yourself to. 

To improve our own product, we’ve surveyed 1000’s of residential construction companies, custom home builders, and remodelers from across the country to learn what they needed most from their project management software. We included several questions, including the three that we covered in this article. 

Here are some of the results:

What is the biggest pain point you need to solve in your business?

  • Project management (scheduling and tasks) - 35%
  • Project estimating - 18%
  • Budget tracking - 16.9%
  • Client management - 13.7%
  • Lead generation - 10.4%
  • Sales and proposals - 3.3%
  • Invoicing - 2.4%

Which of these is the MOST important in your project management software decision-making process?

  • Simplicity - 64%
  • Features - 26%
  • Affordability - 10%

What features matter MOST to you in your project management software?

  • Scheduling - 20.8%
  • Budget tracking - 16.9%
  • Client selections management - 16.9%
  • Task management - 15.3%
  • Team and client communication - 13.6%
  • Daily logs - 6%
  • Change order management - 3.8%
  • Document and photo storage - 3.8%
  • Invoicing and payments - 2.7%

As you can see from the results, there are certainly some commonalities among home builders and remodelers when it comes to what they need and are looking for in their project management software. 

Whether your answers were in line with these results or not, understanding where you stand on each of these questions is the first step in finding the perfect construction management software solution for your residential construction business — and saving you valuable time and money in the process. 

What is the best construction management software?

As we’ve outlined throughout this article, there are a lot of options to choose from when it comes to deciding which construction software is right for your business. Ultimately, finding the best construction management software is a matter of finding the construction management software that is best for you.  

Answering the three basic questions we’ve outlined in this article to narrow down your choices and following the steps to research and evaluate each option will lead you to the right decision. 

And, if you discover that what you need is construction software with simple, fast, and powerful features that require no training to learn, we hope you’ll consider trying BuildBook for free during your evaluation.

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