"Very few companies make a purchase decision based on features, because the top packages all fundamentally do what you need," said Brown; instead, he added, most companies buy construction project management tools to correct a problem. Construction management consultants say it can help to make a list of your current problems by priority, identify the probable root causes, and start your requirements list from there.
You'll also want to prioritize desired functions and features. What's critical to your requirements? What's only nice to have? What are you willing to trade off to get your key requirements met?
Ask your partners, best subcontractors, suppliers and customers what they use. While not an absolute requirement, integrating with others on a project is easier if you're using the same software. Ask partners what they would change about their existing construction project management software. Query them about support issues; how easily have problems been resolved? How quickly did the vendor respond?
Also check to see what your competition -- especially competition that seems to always beat its deadlines -- is using. It pays to be aware, especially if their subcontractors and customers are implementing their tools and processes.
In general, you'll be happiest with software packages designed specifically for the type of work your company does most often. Pay special attention to a product's "target audience." Some packages are designed for small contractors that may work one or two projects at a time. Others work best when complemented by full-blown job cost accounting software commonly found in very large companies.
Experts say that feature comparisons are largely useless for selecting construction project management software. You are better served by focusing on the functions you would like a project management system to perform and then looking at specific company's product features to see if they will allow you to perform those functions. The next page of this buyer's guide gives you an idea of the questions you can ask to determine if a product's features will meet your functional needs.
*** Go to the next article: Construction Project Management and Scheduling Software Buyer's Buide: Capabilities