Smart Phones and BuildIT

With the massive proliferation of smart phones in recent months, and their adoption en masse by contractors and field personnel, we're getting a lot of enquiries about whether BuildIT has "an app" available.

It's not a question of whether we will build one, it's when.

An "app" is specifically designed for a small screen device and is fairly "light weight" in terms of feature set. And they're all the rage now. There are goofy ones (like the Orc detector... you can tell if one of your friends is an Orc from Lord of the Rings, then of course, you'd have to kill him)... then there are those designed for productivity.

But what we've found is most customers are having success using iPhones, Android smart phones, iPads etc. with BuildIT as is. All you need is a web browser, and you can access your BuildIT account.

I've been using a Samsung Galaxy smart phone for a few months now, and can easily access most of the functions and controls in BuildIT. And while there are some current limitations (that will likely be solved as 1000's of smart phone customers clog up tech support lines and online technical forums), we see most BuildIT customers benefiting from wireless access to the system with these devices.

Case in point - prior to writing this, I just spent 18 minutes on my smart phone, logged into my BuildIT account.

Here's what I did:

1. Created a new job (Martin Residence)

2. Entered a schedule template of 28 tasks related to a kitchen renovation.

3. Modifed durations of 2 tasks using the Gantt popup power bar... watch the schedule adjust in real time.

4. Set 1 task to 100% completed - keeps the schedule up to date.

5. Entered specific details in one of the tasks... while it was on my mind.

6. Entered a note tied to the Martin Residence... for others on my team to reference

7. Assigned a task to a sub contractor... so he would know where he's supposed to be, and when.

8. Created a standard "invitation to tender" from the myriad of construction document templates available to all BuildIT users.

9. Faxed that invitation to tender to a contact on my team (and was messaged minutes later from him about that fax he received!!).

10. Created a calendar appointment tied to the project... where other BuildIT users can see so they know when my time is booked.

11. Sent a text message to a contact (the contents of which get stored in BuildIT in the "sent email" folder, and tied to the Martin Residence).

12. Then logged out and got on with my day.

You don't have to be a 13 year old with lightning fast thumbs to make BuildIT work on a smart phone. Just an interest in becoming more productive and taking advantage of the technology to allow you to manage your business and make decisions wherever you happen to be.

Imangine: you and/or your employees accomplishing this much in 18 minutes for your business... from the truck !

Personally, I find it easier to be in front of a computer typing on a regular keyboard, and viewing a large monitor, but I don't always have that luxury, and neither will you or your employees.

Make the jump soon to becoming "untethered, and get more out of BuildIT.

 Scott Hutchinson
 scott@builditsystems.com
 1 866 585 5050 ext 1

Construction software - buyer beware - what to watch out for...

BuildIT started just over 10 years ago. Not only have we survived a brutal economic downturn in the construction industry, but we've grown through it. And we've been around long enough to see other software companies come and go.

Anybody can get started in software development, and have a shot at success. But many of those "flash in the pan" companies fold, for reasons we'll outline later, and their customers are left stranded, having to change vendors in mid stream, disrupting their business, and understandably souring their opinion of similar software products and companies.

If you're in "research mode", here are the top 10 red flags to watch out for:

1. Who really is behind the company? Is there adequate and verifiable information on their "contact us" page? Check their domain (www[dot]companyname[dot]com) - if they have an anonymous domain registration, they probably don't want you to know too much about them. They could be an overseas business - without proper support. Think: who are you going to deal with when their servers go offline?

2. Restricted access to an online demo. They probably want to have someone run you through the demo, and follow a script designed to close you, even if the product is not the best fit with your needs. Have you ever sat through a "time share" sales presentation? There's a reason they do it that way, and they do sell !

3. Hidden or no posted pricing on their corporate website. The company wants to get you hooked on the system before they ease you into their pricing scheme. And it could also mean different pricing for different customers.

4. Guarantees - do they offer refunds and a cooling off period?

5. Per job pricing - most consumers understand that this is a bad deal. This model essentally dips into your pocket should you be more successful and get more jobs... the company is charging you more for the same software! Look for pricing models that are more commensurate with usage.

6. Charging for client access or "sub contractor portals" - find systems that have this included in the subscription rate.

7. Does their website smack of platitudes like "#1 construction software", or "best in breed", or "over x thousand customers" - these claims are baseless and cannot be proven.

8. Does their website contain stock photos you see on other websites, pretty girls with headsets, or gentlemen wearing suits and the occasional hard hat, smiling away? That's a dead giveaway to overseas developers trying to make inroads into the North American Market. Are you subscribing to a proven system, or some beta type software being developed offshore on your dollar?

9. Agressive salesmen - they are paid to sell. Not that that's bad, but the old addage remains true - "nobody likes to be sold, but everyone likes to buy". Are you speaking with one of the owners of the company who is ensuring there is a fit with your needs, and their solution? Do you feel pressure to buy even though their solution is not directly in the center of the bulls-eye.  If the system is not a perfect fit with what you're looking for, is the software representative willing to recommend alternative (and competitive) options?

10. Do a quick Google search - does the company show up near or at the top of the organic listings? This is a good indicator that the company is a serious player in the market. If you can't find them, how are they finding you... and will they be around long enough to service you?

For a software company to be successful, you need a few things to survive... and thrive. A real product that provides real value to real people. A system that has been refined, that is coherent, that has simple navigation so new people can get on board quickly and become productive in short order. You need to be found... online, period! And you need to have an organization structure that is supported by solely by sales of your product, not by rounds of investment.

Few software companies make it this far.

When you vote with your dollars, ask the tough questions before signing on the line.

 Scott Hutchinson
 scott@builditsystems.com
 1 866 585 5050 ext 1

BuildIT Software Update – version 2011.10a (October 2011)

We batched up a number of improvements and released them this past weekend: 

:: All dates and times in your BuildIT account can be customized on the Preferences>Personal>General page.  Over 300 locations were updated to make this improvement.

:: New Calendar popups are more compatible with newer browsers, look better and work better. They support custom all your date formats.

:: Improved Gantt "Power Bar" allows setting a new start date with the calendar popup, setting task duration by number of working days.

:: Sharper graphics on the Gantt bars.

:: Updated Rich Text Editor for emails.

:: Improved speed when closing the send-email window.

:: Improved validation and error messages on a number of dialogs.

:: Fixed an issue where failed faxes were not being set as "read".

:: New features on the Custom Job Info pages.

Too much info to track on your jobs, or want to fill in documents with job info -- talk to BuildIT support today.

 Scott Hutchinson
 scott@builditsystems.com
 1 866 585 5050 ext 1