Yes, you are reading a blog about construction software automation in the cloud, but for the minute I will be talking about cars. I can recall when I first learned to work on my car. When I opened the hood to my Pontiac Firebird I could recognize and identify just about all the parts inside. I was the one in my neighborhood who owned a timing light so my yard was full of all my friends cars while we worked on them. I am becoming increasingly aware that it was a long time ago.
Just recently, I taught my daughter to drive and a few gray hairs later, thought I should probably teach her basic car maintenance. I was feeling pretty smart until my daughter opened the hood on her 2011 Honda Civic and I wasn’t sure what I was looking at. I was pretty sure I knew which thing the battery was, and maybe the master cylinder, but beyond that, computer ports.
After stuttering a bit I closed the hood, told my daughter where the best place was to get her tire pressure checked and her oil changed, which should be done every 3,000 miles. I went and sat in my favorite chair and suddenly felt very old.
Automotive technology has transformed through the years. We have have better, stronger engines, improved braking systems, the safety features have become simply outstanding, and all are a direct result of improved technology. The back yard mechanic really doesn’t exist anymore. Cars today boast anywhere from 70-100 microprocessors, and each one needs to be operating correctly for the car to run properly. The diagnostic tools needed to analyze car problems today are not the type of things you would find in everyone’s garage.
Since we don’t really know what’s under the hood of a new car, should we be neglect when buying it and just get it if it looks nice? That answer would be a loud, no! “Looking under the hood” means a whole new thing now, but there are definitely questions any buyer should ask.
When researching vehicles, important question about economy, performance, safety and reliability should be at the top of the list. You may not be physically putting your head under the hood, but you should educate yourself to know what to ask about. You should inquire about the electronics that control things such as the engine and braking, and of course entertainment. You should check to see if you have to bring your car to an authorized dealer, or can other garages work on it if they own the correct tools. Basically, do your homework.
In order to make an informed decision you need to understand the basic technology of the product you are getting. To ask legitimate questions, a fairly high level of understanding is needed of the technology involved. It is important that you seek out other people who have purchased the product you are looking at.
As stated in the beginning of this blog, I have now come to construction software, and you will see how this all ties in. Everything that I said about a car, can be said about construction software program, and everything I said about an engine, can be replaced with operating system.
Deciding to purchase construction software for your company is a big step. It is wise to have a thorough checklist of everything you need, to be sure the platforms you are looking at will be a good match. The days are gone when you simply just needed to make sure your operating system was compatible, and you had enough memory to run the program you were interested in. All of that has become obsolete through construction software automation in the cloud.
A new generation of cloud-based construction ERP systems are available for construction companies, big and small. There are accounting systems, project management software, and all inclusive systems that perform completely in the cloud and are mobile receptive. In order to prepare yourself to start wading through the new technology and purchase a system that is right for you, you need to become knowledgeable about the construction software industry.
Here are a few of the things you should check “under the hood” for when buying new software:
Is the software I’m interested in cloud-based?
Cloud-based software was designed to work in the cloud. To be truly cloud-based you should be able to pick up any device anywhere and with a web browser be able to pick your work up right where you left off. A cloud-based program should be easy to understand and use.
Will I be able to use my mobile device?
Just being able to do work on a laptop does not mean that the software is truly mobile. With technology growing the way it has, true mobility means you are able to perform your work on any device such as a smartphone or tablet. Be sure to find out if all of the system is mobile or only part of it. Ask about the apps offered with the system you are considering. Are their specific apps for the team in the field as well as in the office? Are there shortcuts for tracking time, inventory and equipment?
Will this system mesh with other software that I may be using?
In a perfect world we would only need a single construction software system to run our entire construction company, but unfortunately that isn’t the case. By purchasing a system that will integrate well with other software, it will do away with repetitive data entries and save a lot of time.
Do you update the features of the software often?
Software should always be working to get better. As new needs arise, you want to know that your software system is going to grow with you. You want your user experience to be of a positive one and not feel like you system can’t keep up with the industry’s changing trends. The company that you purchase your software from should continually send updates and alert you to any important changes. You will most likely be paying for a maintenance contract and you want to make sure that these changes and updates are included in you plan.
This list of what to look for “under the hood” of your future construction software could go on for pages. Hopefully this is a good place for you to start. Keep educating yourself and find what will work best for your company.