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Shopping for software online can be downright confusing. A simple search for project management software will result in a deluge of search results, display ads, and other promotions all claiming to be the best system on the market today. In a busy environment like your typical General Contractor, no one has the time to evaluate every single option. So how do you sort through the clutter?
This is a question that General Contractors all over the country are asking themselves. Software Advice’s recent Construction Software Buyer View Survey found that of the thousands of participants surveyed, a third were actively searching for Project Management software, far more than any other type of software. According to the survey, the main reasons that organizations are looking for Project Management systems are to increase efficiency (28%) and to find platforms with more of the features they are looking for (24%). Sites like Software Advice and Constructech are great places to begin your Project Management software search, but there can still be a lot of confusion to wade through.
One of the most confusing aspects is the muddying water surrounding what constitutes a Project Management system. Because the keywords “Project Management” are so valuable, every provider out there is trying to conflate their product to be a “Project Management” solution; when in reality they are nowhere close. For the purposes of your search it’s helpful to define what a Project Management system is, namely, software that helps to track and budget costs, manage important documents, collaborate, build project schedules and allocate resources. These core functionalities are essential to any true Project Management system. To narrow your scope even further consider the following:
A lot of so-called project management systems on the market today are actually “project document management” systems. These systems typically manage only the documents of a project like Submittals, RFI’s, and Change Orders and have limited functionality beyond that. When you are looking for a true Project Management system to increase your organization’s efficiency be sure to look for solutions with the necessary functionality. Look for features in addition to document management like resource allocation, budgeting, draws, scheduling, and time tracking.
Project Management systems vary greatly in cost, from a few thousand dollars all the way up to six figures. Systems can be priced based on number of projects, number of users, or relative size of the company. But one thing to never assume is that cost is a barometer with regards to quality. Many “Project Document Management” systems can cost as much, if not more than, a true Project Management system with 10 times the functionality. Heck, there are even apps that can cost $100 dollars a month per user! When searching for your Project Management system be sure that the price tag matches your expectations for the system.
A final consideration should be “Does this solution fit in with our existing systems?” One of the greatest ways to increase efficiency in your organization is to find systems that complement one another or integrate completely. Project Management, in the grand scheme of things, is just a cog in the machine that is your company, so it makes sense to find one that fits. For example, if you’re completely satisfied with your accounting platform it makes sense to find a Project Management system that can work with, or ideally, integrate with so that you can eliminate double entry, save time and reduce risk.
Just remember that the first step of your search is to take an introspective look at your company. Ask yourself, “In an ideal world, what would this software help us achieve?” Then write out a list of desired features and use that list as a map to find the right Project Management System for your Organization.