Free construction software... comes with a price !

We just got our hands on a report published by Software Advice on free vs open source vs proprietary software (that is, software with a price tag).

For the full report, click here.

For those of you who value your time, I'll summarize:

  • proprietary software such as BuildIT is worth the investment
  • project managers who use proprietary software report fewer challenges and are more satisfied with product features (98%), usability (91%), and support (81%)
  • you're more likely to be completely satisfied with a proprietary software purchase/subscription, rather than free or open source
  • while the lure of free software is appealing, chances are you'll be back searching for a better solution... and you will have wasted precious time and lost profits in the process
It's true - you do get what you pay for. More features, better usability, and customer support. You get your problems solved.

Some new kids on the block do offer free versions of their proprietary software (free for so many projects, sub contractors, etc.). It's a strategy to gain some users and help with their beta release. So while you may think you are getting a good deal, you are actually paying a price to help debug their software.

Questions you should ask yourself before going for the free option:

  1. When I need support, who am I going to call?
  2. If I do connect on the phone with a support guy, how is he getting paid?
  3. If I'm not paying for their free software, and other people presumably aren't paying for their free software, then who is?
  4. What happens when the party is over, and they change their pricing strategy and start billing me?
  5. What happens to my data when they close their doors?
Yes, software companies come and go. Some show up for a year or two, have their flash in the pan, then they're gone... leaving a wake of distraught users that have to retool and catch up with their competitors that bet on the right horse. Their software generally is feature poor, their contact details on their website vague, site links not working, stock photos on their website of smiling contractors in white hard hats or call center girls wearing headsets, their site is void of resources to help you win at your business (contrast with BuildIT's 100+ blog articles like the one you're reading now)... these are the tell tale signs to run quickly in the other direction!

NO construction software exists that is purely free and is paid for by advertising, or is free for the express purpose of attracting a critical mass of users (like mass appeal social media giants Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, etc.) - these tools just don't exist in the construction project management space. 

If you search for "free construction software", you will get lots of hits... but most are offering a "free trial" of their system; you will eventually be moved into one of their paid plans. 

Yes, some software is fully free, but (BIG but)... it comes without support, with difficult-to-navigate manuals, or is so vague (like a general calendar system with some task tracking) that it's a stretch for most users to make the connection between the software and the construction world they live and operate in.

As they say, "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch".

Having said that, with your super low subscription to BuildIT, here's what we do offer free/complimentary:

  • free 15 day test drive (and we're easy to persuade, if you need a bit more time to try us out)
  • free activation
  • free setup/configuration of your account
  • free training (phone, email, Skype, chat support)
  • free importing of your data (job list, contact database, schedule templates)
  • free customizations to the many pre-formatted construction document templates in the system
  • free construction calculators (these crazy things get used daily all over the planet!!)
  • free "relevant" advice given our background in construction - you speak to someone who speaks your language, not a generic commissioned salesperson whose sole purpose it is to sell you their software
  • free construction scheduling consulting - we'll help you get your first construction schedule out the door
Take BuildIT for a free test drive, and learn about the advantages of our "proprietary" construction software for yourself.

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

Pay per Project ? No way !!

We get asked this question all the time...    

   "Do you charge per project?"

Short answer - No.

Thanks to our competitors, many of whom charge "per project" pricing, it does drive a chunk of business our way. Many of you see that being charged more and more for the same software seems a bit odd.

And what's really fascinating is that the market by and large is willing to accept this. Some of your competitors are on the hook monthly for their project management system, and what they pay fluctuates depending on the number of projects they do.

One of our software competitors recently announced a multi million dollar round of investment (curious why they need millions more if they are also boasting a huge user base... shouldn't their revenue cover their operating and development costs!?). And in that press release, they claim they stand out by offering construction software tools in a single platform, charging per project rather than per user.

Imagine if Microsoft found a way to charge you "per Word document", or "per Outlook email"... same software, yet they get into your pocketbook each time you click [save and close] or [send] !! I think if that were the case, many of you would be hitting the road looking for alternatives.

And we're seeing many users of such project management systems jumping ship... they may like the software, but they're only using a fraction of the features available, and they need to stop hemorrhaging from the high monthly charges. The party may be soon be over for software companies that charge too much. And adding more features won't be the remedy - there are many solutions out there that will meet your scheduling and project management needs, question is, who can do it without breaking your bank each month.

Smaller, agile, low cost alternatives. Live support from someone who actually has a background in construction.

Speaking of which...

BuildIT. Our pricing is simple. Our customers pay a low monthly rate. And you can do as many projects as you wish without being penalized.

No long term contracts. And... you can suspend any time if you go through a season in your business where you don't require our service. We'll still keep your account backed up and ready to go... for when you return.

Pay per project... it's like paying through the nose. No thanks.

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

New kid on the block... takes the $ and runs

In the market for construction software?

Good chance if you're reading this you are, and you're waiting for the pitch. Not now. This is more of a "buyer beware" article.

And the story goes like this...

We get lots of folks coming to BuildIT. We are easily found, have been for over a decade. If you are looking for construction scheduling software, you will find BuildIT. As did "Joe" (yup, name changed out of respect for privacy). Joe had been using Super Software (not their real name, but it would suit them just fine) for the past year. Spent around a grand. And it didn't perform. Nor did their team perform when Joe kept calling and asking for bugs to be fixed.

Joe put me on to Super Software - I had never heard of these guys. Sotware companies like this have come and gone over the years, it's hard to keep track of the ones that fail. But the more I delved into Super Software's website, the more I thought I should sound the alarm... and do my part to get the word out for folks like you doing their research.

We've been around since 2000, so we (as my kids would call me) are OLD. It took us about 2 years just to get a product on the market. And that product was "cloud based" from day 1... before the word "cloud" was hip.

Super Software was "founded" just a few years ago. That means that they started the company... then started to build something. And what I love about America and the Internet, is anybody can start something, then make outrageous claims about "being the best" or "being the first"... and nobody can stop you. Anybody can throw a website up, add stock photos, which you'll find everywhere online (yes, those photos of smiling girls with headsets on, and men in dress shirts wearing hardhats do NOT work for Super Software, and the smiling couple looking over a set of plans are NOT their customers).

Fortunately if you dig around, you can find a few red lights that should send you running in the opposite direction. Here are a few I found, and you'll find them on other sites as well:

1. When someone says they are the "first cloud construction platform" and they've only been in existence this decade, then they are about a decade late to the party. Like BuildIT, there are many cloud construction platforms on the market today. Your job is to find the best fit for your company while avoiding becoming a "beta tester" for software that still is in its infancy and will need a few years to either grow up, or crash and burn (and take your data with it !).

2. When a software company claims to be the "best", "best of breed", "perfect tool", or "voted #1 software on the planet" - quite frankly, they're not, and never will be. And you can prove it by test driving their software "without obligation" (that means, don't pay a dime) until you are either ready to risk being one of their beta testers, or concede that going with the tried and tested guys will be a better bet for your business.

3. When a software company has links on their website that are broken, blank pages, pages with "coming soon", server application errors, stock photography, no fixed company address, and a Twitter account that is just a shameless self promotion of their software system, those should send you packing right away.

4. If you are reading text on their website, and after a few minutes, you feel like you're reading the same thing over and over again... like this: "our cloud based construction management software is the greatest construction management software for construction managers that want to manage their construction projects with construction management software that works", and you see buzz words scattered all over their site... well, they are more interested in getting Google's attention than yours.

The unfortunate thing is, they got Joe's money and they will get Tom, Dick and Harry's at some point.

Hang on to your wallet, and make sure you compare and contrast options. Get referrals. Get an understanding of who is behind the company. And make sure they have your back and are there to help you succeed with their system. Don't pay for what you'll never use - determine what you need to grow your business/solve your problem... and go after it with surgical precision.

Now for the pitch. Call me - I'm one of the owners, and one of the veterans in the construction software space. Let's see what we can do to help you out.

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