Subcontractors that stand above their competition and routinely manage to secure lucrative contracts have the following things in common:
It's a challenge to realize all of these traits, so many businesses use subcontractor software to manage the relevant processes. This type of software comes with specialized features to help subcontractors automate project planning, task tracking, cost reporting and document management.
Subcontractors relying on manual methods alone, such as Excel, will invariably create inaccurate project schedules and cost estimates. This will result in project delays and budget overruns, which will tarnish their reputation and hinder their chances of securing future contracts.
We created this Buyer's Guide to help small businesses understand the software market landscape and select a solution that meets their requirements. It lists the common features, key considerations and chief concerns of subcontractor software buyers. It is intended to help both first-time buyers and those looking to switch their existing software.
Here's what we'll cover:
Subcontractor software is designed for contractors that offer specialized services such as plumbing, electrical work and roofing.
It helps you create proposals with cost estimates (materials and labor costs) when your business is bidding for a contract. After you win the contract, it helps you track the daily tasks of your employees to ensure that the project is progressing as expected and is on schedule.
Tracking projects in eSUB (Source)
Subcontractor software helps you manage both pre- and post-contract activities. We'll look into the details of the features offered in the next section.
Subcontractor software is a specialized type of software that falls into the larger ecosystem of construction management software. These tools help you with task scheduling, equipment tracking, document management and cost estimating.
Let's take a closer look at the common features of these solutions:
|Document management||Build a central repository to track different versions of documents such as construction plans, RFIs, change orders, submittals and compliance certificates.|
|Project tracking||Assign and track the people, resources and equipment involved in a project.|
|Project scheduling||Track a job's progress and ensure that the project stays on track, with regard to the budget and timeline.|
|Equipment tracking||Track which employees have signed out specific equipment. Also, keep a detailed account of the equipment maintenance history.|
|Proposal generator||Review your cost estimates and create an accurate and professional-looking bid proposal.|
|Job costing reports||Track actual project costs compared with the initial estimates, create and send purchase orders, execute change orders, schedule and track payments/invoices as well as submit and approve time sheets.|
|API integration||Integrate third-party tools and API extensions such as accounting software and customer relationship management (CRM) solutions.|
Subcontractor software has different capabilities, from managing project proposals to tracking on-site crew activities. However, having the most features doesn't necessarily make a tool the best one—for your business.
The software must offer adequate functionality to automate existing manual (and often error-prone) processes. But you also need to ensure that you don't overpay for features that you won't use.
Below, we've broken down the three most common buyer types, their chief concerns and the main functionality they should seek in subcontractor software:
Large subcontractors. These buyers (businesses with more than $100 million in annual revenue) typically want solutions that offer all the common features listed above and integrations with their existing accounting and CRM software. They typically require built-in project management functionality with planning and scheduling capabilities, such as Gantt charts, to chart a project's critical path.
Small and midsize subcontractors. These buyers (businesses with $100 million or less in annual revenue) are primarily concerned with the solution's price and ease of use. Such buyers seek cloud-based tools with monthly and annual subscription plans. They also need an intuitive system with features such as a drag-and-drop interface, so they don't have to spend a long time learning how to use the tool.
Best-of-breed buyers. With the many available construction management systems, there has been a rise in stand-alone systems. These tools can be a good option if you're trying to automate a specific business process. For instance, if you're an electrical or flooring contractor struggling to calculate the costs of material and labor, you need an electrical estimating software or flooring estimating software, respectively.
To learn more about such best-of-breed solutions, read our Buyer's Guide on construction management solutions. You can also call us at (844) 847-3290 for a no-obligation and free consultation with a software advisor.
When purchasing subcontractor software, businesses should also consider factors such as total software ownership costs, deployment and mobile accessibility. Doing so will help them thoroughly analyze the software's suitability to their needs.
Let's look at some of these considerations more closely.
Depth of functionality. Subcontractors need to closely examine the features that a vendor offers. For instance, the ability to upload and edit images on a mobile device is a key need for many construction teams.
In this case, the ideal solution would be a cloud-based one, as real-time document sharing isn't possible with on-premise tools. Likewise, check to see if the tool offers native mobile apps for both iOS and Android devices, so that users don't face any device compatibility challenges.
Another example of a capability to look for is task tracking. This can be as simple as listing which employee is doing what on a spreadsheet. But, if you have large teams, tracking can quickly get out of hand. In such cases, you need detailed tracking with automated reminders, and maybe even time tracking functionality.
Total costs. The cost of software depends largely on its deployment model—whether it's cloud-based or on-premise. A cloud-based solution usually has a monthly or annual subscription fee. Small businesses tend to prefer this over the on-premise model, where they have to pay a one-time license fee, data backup costs and maintenance charges.
However, software costs are not so cut and dry. Businesses should check whether cloud-based solutions charge for training and phone support (they often don't). Further, if a large part of the software functionality depends on third-party add-ons, then the total costs of implementation and customization will increase considerably.
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