15 years... and getting better each day !

Happy birthday to... us. 15 years since BuildIT incorporated, and the idea of BuildIT was incubating many months prior to this.

A lot can happen in 15 years. I've certainly earned the increasing number of grey hairs on my head. My little girl was learning how to ride a bike when we started, now she's rocking 3rd year college courses. And my son who was in diapers during the early days of BuildIT is now a lethal weapon, a second degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do.

As one of the major investors who clearly saw the potential in this idea, I want to personally thank the founders - Craig, Denis, and Michael - for their foresight and tireless efforts to get this thing off the ground. And to all those past and present who have been a part of building BuildIT, we are truly grateful.

With age comes credibility. Over the past 15 years, we've seen software companies come, and go. And the question we are asked often is "so, how long have you been in business?". It's a fair question... if you are entrusting your data and desired operational efficiencies to a company, you want to know they are going to be around for a while to support you. You can rest assured... we've been around much longer than most software we're compared to in our space.

Well, 15 years in the software world is a lifetime. And while new apps pop up every day, many of them are abandoned or discontinued. Even well funded ones. Google and Microsoft have discontinued over 70 applications each since they started... all they touch is not gold after all. We see it in the construction software space regularly. We'll get a call from a software searcher, "Hey, have you heard of construction software ABC?". No, and after a bit of research, it is clear they are just starting out. And to be fair, we started out too many years ago. But... we rolled out BuildIT a bit differently.

Before we went "to market" with a retail product, we already had a proven system. We struck a special arrangement with some key product testers (contractors, home builders, specialty trades) that gave our team valuable feedback and allowed us to establish a reliable, stable application before we welcomed our first retail customer. And I was present when we received our first cheque... it was at that point that I knew this was going to work. And it has.

Imagine, you entrench yourself/your team with a software program, get used to it, get results... fall in love with the thing even. And poof. It's gone. And you're left scrambling, trying to retool while ensuring your business doesn't miss a beat. It's no fun. It's one of the reasons we have customers return to BuildIT all the time. Just got a call the other day from a customer that was using BuildIT back in 2009, and now, 7 years later with a new company, he's wanting to propose it to his team. Why? Because, in his words, BuildIT works.

Being around for as long as we have does give us a leg up on the competition for sure. Add to that our background in construction, the ease of use of the application and how we have nailed simple online construction scheduling and collaboration features, and you have a recipe here for success. Your future success.

Come join the party !

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

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

Gantt charts

Gantt chart basics 

When you search for “construction scheduling software”, you will likely end up here on our blog, or at www.builditsystems.com – and you need something that can generate a Gantt chart for construction. 

A Gantt chart is commonly used in construction project management as an easy way of showing tasks/activities as they relate to time (days/weeks). Sometimes referred to as construction timelines, or construction bar charts, Gantt charts help you and others see how a project is tracking. Construction tasks are shown on the left of the page, vertically in sequential order, and the time is expressed in days (or weeks) along the top of the chart, from left to right. Each task is expressed by bars of time… and you can see relationships between tasks - which ones can run concurrently, and which ones need to finish before the other ones start.

Brief history

It’s an unfortunate name really. Hard to pronounce, we are often asked for a ga-nat chart or gnat chart (where the “g” is silent and I picture flies buzzing around a spreadsheet !!). The Gantt chart was the brainchild of Karol Adamiecki, a polish engineer around 1895. Originally named a “harmonogram”, it had limited appeal until an American engineer and management consultant named Henry Gantt created his own version in English around 1910… it quickly gained traction in project management circles (construction, government, education, manufacturing, etc.). And thanks to his last name, “Gantt” chart is what we are stuck with (could be worse).

For decades, Gantt charts were created by hand. Each time a change to the schedule took place, they would have to be redrawn. The process was time consuming, arduous… a real pain. And despite their value, most projects involve managing change. This kept those pink eraser companies humming, and generated a lot of frustration when sub trades didn’t show up, things took longer than expected, and you got a couple feet of snow the day before you were to sheathe the roof trusses.

Gantt chart software

Today, you can create Gantt charts using tools like Microsoft Word or Excel. However, they are the wrong tools for the job. You’ve just replaced the pink eraser for dozens of key presses, back spaces, deletes, copy/pastes... frustration builds, and time is consumed. If this is you, congratulations… relief is spelled B-U-I-L-D-I-T 

Scheduling software makes creating Gantt charts a breeze. Microsoft Project has been around for years, and it tends to be the one that comes up with our future customers that are making the switch from paper based, and whiteboard scheduling. Click here to review the differences between Microsoft Project and BuildIT.

There are several options available to help you create a printed Gantt chart. Heck, we can help you do it. As a matter of fact, many customers who come to BuildIT get a printed Gantt chart (PDF) before they even subscribe to our service. It’s simple really, and we’ll help you do it. But… a printed Gantt chart becomes stale quickly, like, within hours. And if you have staff and sub-contractors relying on a printed schedule that is out of date, that’s when costly errors and delays occur.

BuildIT scheduling "system" vs static Gantt schedule software

Some specialized spreadsheet programs and online Gantt software claim they are the answer to creating Gantt charts for your team. While they may be easier to use than Microsoft Project and cost less, the benefit that sets BuildIT apart from the rest is the ability to collaborate in real time.

BuildIT’s schedule is online, and can be shared with anyone on your team. You make a change to the schedule, your contacts are notified, and they see that schedule in real time, just by clicking a link within their email. When they add a note to a task, you (the BuildIT user and master of the schedule) get that note, date and time stamped by them. Everyone is apprised of changes, and nothing gets missed.

Simple. Automatically configured by BuildIT. Your clients and sub-contractors/vendors do not have to go to someone’s website, find the right place to login, and try to remember a username or password combination – that is a pain, and it’s the big reason the other guys still are dealing with costly screw-ups. BuildIT’s approach is super easy – all you do is create a schedule, assign the contact to one or more tasks, then email that contact a link (by pressing a button) – you don’t even have to write the email – we do it all for you.

Gantt charts are great, and there are times when you want to print to a PDF, and send to a client or contractor. BuildIT is better… for those who want to keep everyone in the loop, and notified of changes. 

Try us on your next Gantt chart. And start scheduling the easy way.

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