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Why Contractors Buy New Software

Software Advice, a Gartner company that connects buyers with software vendors in the construction industry, recently released the results of a study they conducted on the Impact of Job Roles on Construction Software Purchasing Decisions.  Software Advice surveyed over 800 owners, project managers and IT professionals about their software buying habits in the face of pressure from the construction market to get it done “faster, cheaper, and with fewer change orders and do-overs.”

The annual survey concludes that your reason for buying software depends on your position in the firm, especially in small and mid-sized construction firms.

According to the results of the survey, 36% of those owners were buying new software to increase accuracy in the systems that they deploy.  They are being overwhelmed by the number of bid opportunities for new projects and by the need to mitigate their risk of making a mistake in those bids by using software to improve the organization of their projects.

Project managers (36% of the respondents) were quick to mention that they wanted an “all in one” software that was easily integrated into an overall system that would enable them to handle the varied aspects of their jobs – from estimating through job completion.  And by the way, they would like for it to be “best of breed” while you are at it.  Like many project managers, they expressed their pain points of having systems that did not integrate with other systems within their companies, forcing them to do work twice.  Thirty-one percent (31%) of the project managers stated that new software would improve their project organization, and 20% of the respondents stated that their current software was inadequate for what they needed to do.

IT managers, the folks who always hear from architects and owners who want more information sooner and who want more accurate bids from sketchy or incomplete drawings, said that their top reason for buying new software was that their current software was inadequate or outdated.

We found it interesting that where the software is housed varied across the three categories with over 60% of the owners wanting the software housed on site while the majority of project managers and IT managers in the survey were comfortable in housing the software and data in the cloud.  I wonder whether that might also reflect the demographics of the three categories of respondents.  Many owners are not as tech savvy and their younger IT and project managers probably are.  They are probably used to a “hands on – if I can see it and touch it I am comfortable” approach.  Perhaps Software Advice could ask about demographics in next year’s survey.

While the survey conveys the buyer’s reasons, we agree with Forrest Burnson, Market Research Associate at Software Advice and author of the study, who sums up his conclusions this way. “I think software is moving faster than businesses, at least in the construction sector.  It's understandable – given how thin margins can be for construction firms, there is a lot of reluctance to make a hefty investment into IT.  We're seeing a lot of new software vendors emerge who offer competitively priced systems, but the question is whether those systems will have longevity in the market or not.  I expect that within the next five years or so this will become even more of an issue in the construction sector, as firms are pressed to make their processes even more efficient in the face of growing competition.”

The 2015 annual survey will be interesting to read as newer, more integrated suites and the “internet of things” begins to impact the delivery and long-term life of the projects we build today, and contractors and subs are required to participate in 4d, 5d and 6d projects.

Software Advice reviews new construction software and provides advice to companies who are in the market for new software solutions.

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