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Construction Software has become more powerful and there are many more options available in the market today. How do you decide what is best for you and how can you hedge your risk? Well, it’s not that easy! It’s important to educate yourself on which questions are crucial to ask so that you can easily differentiate the old from the new and identify software that adds real value to your organization.

The main challenge is finding an integrated accounting and job costing software that is robust, powerful, and easy to install and use.  With the introduction of cloud, software companies are challenged to move from traditional ERP to SaaS based models. To build software that is true cloud requires a significant investment. Most construction software companies do not have the development resources and required investment to compete in the cloud market so they take shortcuts such as using a third party hosting provider to host their software in the cloud. This is not a true cloud solution but rather dated technology camouflaged in a new technology framework.

Traditional ERP software contracts are structured in a way that locks customers in and increases the risk for businesses. It’s important to review the contract in detail so you don’t invest your hard earned dollars in software that is dated, comprehensive and can take several months to install. Also, traditional ERP software packages specialize in customizations and target multiple verticals. This results in numerous flags which lead to lengthy and time consuming installs.

Additionally, traditional ERP software solutions charge a high upfront license fee and lock you into a contract that is very difficult to terminate. In hindsight, they have very little incentive to provide a quality product and exceptional customer service. Under the new model – SaaS, there is no contract which significantly mitigates the risk for your business. It also holds the software vendors accountable to deliver what was promised during the sales demo – a quality product and exceptional customer support.

The differences between true cloud and traditional hosted ERP solutions quickly become apparent when you calculate the cost savings. Traditional ERP software vendors try to compete in the cloud market by hosting their software using a third party provider. There is an associated hosting fee and Citrix/VPN are required to run the software application. Not only is this costly but it is very time consuming, slow and usually there are connection issues and delays. Also, servers must be upgraded, maintained and require in house I.T support for back-ups, storage, corruption etc.

True cloud does not require a server or hosting fees and all back-ups and upgrades are included.

Most importantly, SaaS based companies have shifted their focus on customer satisfaction by taking the time to learn about construction businesses.  Establishing a meaningful partnership drastically positively impacts development and advances the software.  Most traditional ERP solutions set a lower budget for the number of training hours required for an implementation in order to make the quote appear more favorable. It is important to gain clarification around this to ensure an accurate number of hours is quoted. Most vendors charge for additional training whereas most SaaS based vendors are rolling out unlimited training models to ensure high adoption and satisfaction rates among customers. Typically users of SaaS based systems are using over 80% of the software’s capability whereas users of traditional models are left to train themselves and end up using less than 50%.

As you can see, the two solutions – true cloud versus traditional ERP – are drastically different. It’s important to take into consideration more than just the purchase price. If you make the wrong decision, it can disrupt your work environment, deter employees from change and end up costing you time and a significant lost investment. Choosing the right software is critical to a company’s success. If chosen correctly, it can increase productivity, centralize your team, provide meaningful reports and help you grow your business with less resources.

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