By Donald Berry, Construction Executive

Technology solution providers have been helping construction companies improve their workflows, reduce inefficiencies, increase productivity and enhance overall profitability since the advent of computing. In the past decade, the internet has accelerated the adoption and acceptance of new solutions for project collaboration, data sharing, equipment auctions and asset tracking. It also has spawned a new generation of cloud computing software and apps for tablets and smartphones. To keep contractors up to date on the latest trends in technology, Construction Executive asked the industry's leading solution providers for their insights and advice.

How can a contractor justify the costs of implementing a new software system and training employees?

Zane Sharpe, Vice President - NextPlans

To justify the costs of implementation and training associated with a new software system, a contractor has to look at soft cost as much as hard cost when evaluating alternatives. Identifying where your personnel's time is spent versus where you intended their time to be spent is a large part of the process. When making a software selection, contractors must ensure they are working with a software company that has people who understand how to manage construction projects, know how contractors make money, understand workflows, and can build a customized implementation and training approach.

Too many contractors select systems for the featured bells and whistles. While these features may be appealing, they may not impact a contractor's performance and bottom line. Make sure you choose software that your firm will utilize to its fullest capacity. Many firms invest in a costly technology solution and end up using less than 10 percent of its capabilities. This can happen as a result of poor training and implementation, but it's often the case that the contractor simply bought more technology than they really needed.

Finally, because every construction project presents unique challenges, contractors can justify their investment by selecting a flexible system that can be customized to their specific needs and business processes. If investing in software allows a contractor to refocus employees' time on responsibilities and activities that are more beneficial to the company's bottom line, then the investment in software and training has been justified.

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