Small Business Management Tools for Construction
The variety of construction management tools available to contractors can be overwhelming. To pick the right technology, a contractor should first ask: What is my most urgent need, right now? Keeping the project on schedule? Tracking costs, invoices, and inventories? Communicating with clients? Managing documents, such as safety inspections, daily logs, and time sheets? Keeping track of tools and materials? Specifying the need narrows the field of choices, and that makes it easier for the contractor to find the right tool for the job.
Types of Programs
Financial software provides an obvious solution to accounting needs. Most financial programs include features for creating invoices. More advanced packages also offer cost projection and planning features, which can help with cost-estimation, and may also offer job-cost tracking, and subcontractor bid tracking.
Project management software enables task planning and delegation, with most programs being based on a job timeline, which allows a quickly accessible overview of a project’s progress. If sub-contractors are involved, this is a valuable tool for coordinating between multiple parties.
Client communication programs make documenting client interactions easier. There are a variety of interface options, but at the core, they are built to allow contractors to update clients on progress, unplanned costs, and document client confirmation of material and color selections.
Tool and material inventory programs help control inventories, so materials are not double purchased, and keeping an account of tools helps to know when they go missing.
There are also programs for warranty tracking, client and vendor contact management, and hybrids which combine multiple types of programs into a single package.
Features to Consider
Selecting a program which functions on both smartphones and computers will increase the efficiency at which information can be updated and accessed. Programs the are based in the cloud offer access at any time- for contractor or client, but programs based on-premises won’t require managing technology such as a central server.
The scale of the projects is also an important consideration. Because many of the programs have been developed to fit project management needs for large jobs, not all programs may be appropriate to the needs of the small construction business. Considerations include what kind of cost code system the software uses, whether multiple projects can be scheduled in a single day and whether the accounting system fits with the accounting needs of the business.
In addition to all of the industry-specific technology, the contractor also has plenty of non-specific program choices, such as spreadsheet, bookkeeping, and contact management, at their disposal. For the handyman or contractor with fewer than 10 employees, these options may be easier to customize to their needs.
There are limitless options for contractors seeking to improve efficiency. Understanding the needs of the project (and the small construction business), then thoroughly researching the options available, will enable the contractor to chose the right tool for the job.