Comparing construction and contracting business systems

Good old paper systems (and scraps of lumber/cardboard)

The upsides: Writing is familiar. It's quick and easy to write things down.

The downsides: Where did I put it? Is it up to date? Who has the latest version of the paperwork? Did someone make changes on another copy?

It can be difficult to send/share paperwork amongst all the people that may need it (especially if they are in different locations). There is the possibility of similar (but not identical) paperwork being used by different people.

There can be big problems if information is misplaced/lost. It's difficult to manage and communicate with workers on-the-go. It's tough to grow a business that only uses paperwork.

Desktop/server based construction software systems

The upsides: It's easy to save, find, and manipulate information (but only from the computer that has the software on it).

The downsides: It's tough for mobile workers to get information from a desktop. Some desktop systems are extremely complex. They often require several pieces of software.

Software needs to be installed and upgraded. Computers need maintenance. Data needs to be backed up regularly. Computers and information are vulnerable to theft, flood, and hard drive crashes.

To build a business of any size computers need to be "connected/networked". This is complex, expensive, and requires computer geeks to keep them going.

Web based construction software systems

The upsides: They are easy to access from multiple locations. In general they are easier to use than desktop software. It's easy to save, find, manipulate, and communicate information from a range of devices through the Internet.

They bypass many of the headaches that come with desktop software: back-ups and upgrades are automatically taken care of. No expensive computer network required.

Some providers (including BuildIT) offer custom programming to meet your specific requirements.

The downsides: Some people resist change as this is still a new way of doing things. It requires a reliable Internet connection (but reliable connections are almost everywhere - and high speed wireless is widely available and becoming even faster/more reliable.)

Learn more about how systems make the world go round...

Learn more about the benefits of business systems for contractors...

The problems with developing your own systems (and how you can avoid them)...