Tips, Tricks, and How-To

Four Fatal Flaws When Picking Out Software

By April 19, 2021 No Comments

It’s no secret—getting your preconstruction estimate right is the key to your success. If it’s too low or too high…either way, you lose. Fortunately, there are technologies available to help you streamline the estimating process, making it easier, with fewer mistakes…you just might be ready to take the leap.

Not quite there yet? Read our check list here to see if you’re ready to evaluate software.

We know that picking an estimating software is not a simple task. It takes plenty of time to sift through all your options. You’ll come across a lot of big promises but very little delivery. Besides the cost commitment, you want your software investment to pay off. Not only does it need to solve your problem, but it should also make your team more efficient and help play a big part in the growth of your business. Remember, shiny bells and whistles are sure attractive, but they’re also distractive.

Snake oil salesman historical reactor standing on a soap box in front of a carriage

Beware of the snake oil salesman who can’t deliver what he promised. (The Lyda Hill Texas Collection of Photographs in Carol M. Highsmith’s America Project, Library of Congress)

The best software:

  • Solves a problem
  • Organizes data efficiently and effectively
  • Offers real live, on-demand support
  • Develops with you, providing upgrades and new features

If a software doesn’t offer these features, move on.

So, you’ve been tasked with looking into new estimating software. Whether you have experience with evaluating software or not, there are a few essential things you need to keep in mind when narrowing down your list. Clearly, price and must-have features are a part of your checklist but there might be a few things you haven’t considered which could cost you not only money, but time, productivity, and the loss of projects.

Are you committing these four fatal flaws when evaluating software?

Fatal Flaw #1: Not Requesting a Demo

It’s easy for a sales team to talk up a product but you’ll never know how it works or the ease of use until you see it in action. Does it really integrate with Procore and Autodesk BIM 360 like you were told or did updates stop some time ago? In certain cases, like MC2—launched in 1962—is no longer being developed. With MC2, you have to use another software to do 2D and 3D takeoff. Watching how advertised features work allows you to make sure it suits your needs and will help build your business case.

Seeing is believing! Click here to request a DESTINI Estimator Demo Now!

Fatal Flaw #2: Choosing the Features You Want vs. What You Need

Close up of a man holding hundreds of dollars in front of a laptop

You want true integration. They want your money.

Champagne dreams, beer budget…yeah, yeah, we know. Trust us, we want one service to do everything, too. But unfortunately, it just doesn’t work that way. And it shouldn’t. A software that claims it will work for every department in your company inevitably won’t work well for every department. Ultimately, it will stop short in some, if not most, areas. If you want a software to help you accurately create estimates, then pick a niche software specializing in only that. If your accounting department needs a software to help manage the books, then pick a software designed for accounting.

For example, though Sage is good software, it is designed for accounting and reporting in Sage isn’t flexible, so precon users end up having to push reports to Excel, causing a whole other set of problems.

It is easy to fall back onto something that feels comfortable. Many of the preconstruction estimating software available looks and feels familiar to what you have been using. However, do those platforms have the technology to solve your challenges and progress your business? Probably not, because if they did, you wouldn’t be looking for new software, right?

Beck Technology highly recommends evaluating your current internal processes first before diving into researching new software. After that, you can create a list of your needs according to those processes and find the best match for you. Our estimating software, DESTINI Estimator is designed to integrate with you…not the other way around. It is also developed with the future needs of preconstruction in mind so we aren’t recreating the wheel…we are propelling you forward in the construction industry.

Fatal Flaw #3: Relying on Cost Alone

Nearly half of reporting companies say price is the determining factor when choosing a software but the old saying is true, “you get what you pay for.” Some tools, like Sage, offer little support or no implementation plan. In fact, we’ve heard of cases where a precon company offered to pay to fly someone from Sage out to help, with no response from Sage. How many jobs could you have bid on if you didn’t have to pull a team member to build databases and implement? Would you be able to troubleshoot if you were sent over a PDF of a user’s manual? How helpful is that?

In these cases, you could hire a third-party consultant to help with implementation. However, third-party consultants add extra costs—extra costs you weren’t anticipating. Further, third-party consultants, even though they know the ins and outs of the software can’t fix fundamental problems.

There are always costs involved when implementing new software but beware of the money trap. If you buy cheap and the software doesn’t provide value to your business development, it doesn’t matter the bargain price you paid, you’ve wasted your money.

Fatal Flaw #4: Ignoring the Difficulty of Use

screenshot of DESTINI Estimator preconstruction software

DESTINI Estimator features built-in 2D and 3D takeoff, cost history, and in-house support.

Who in your company will be initially responsible for finding which software to evaluate? If it is an IT person, they most likely have a higher understanding of how the software should work but that doesn’t mean your estimators will. Buying a software that is too difficult for the users costs precious time for all of your resources. Estimators will spend more time on the phone with support than building estimates or IT will spend longer on training and solving problems rather than keeping your technology infrastructure running. As they say, time is money, do you really want to pull your estimators off the job and lose productivity? DESTINI Estimator includes a full implementation team with on-going support to make your lives easier so your company continues to run smoothly.

We know too well that sometimes our needs and our wants are two totally different things. You don’t just want the job done. You want the job done right. Nothing is more important for the AEC industry than that. That’s why it is important to narrow your choices down to those niche software companies like Beck Technology that specializes in your specific need.

Can you think of other mistakes made when evaluating software or have you committed one of these yourself? Tell us about it in the comment section below.

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