Inconceivable

Google the word "inconceivable" and you'll undoubtedly come across this movie clip from the Princess Bride:

In it, the sinister mastermind Vizzini keeps using the word "inconceivable" to respond to scenarios that are, well, not really that inconceivable". His sword wielding sidekick Inigo Montoya, eventually puzzled by his continued use of the word, questions the Sicilian criminal, "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means".

Classic.

And so goes the English language. Fast forward 33 years, and I get a call from this lady from Canada (could be anywhere on the planet, but hey, I'm from Canada, and kind of expected more from my fellow "countryman"!).

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Caller: "Hi, does your software have an employee time tracking system?"

Me: "No, were a construction scheduling and project management system. You need time and attendance software"

Caller: "Well, I'm looking for something more robust".

And with that, she hung up on me.

Nice. So much for Canadians being a polite bunch.


Robust, eh!?

There are several definitions:

  • Strong, healthy, vigorous, strong and rich in flavor or smell.
  • Sturdy.
  • Able to withstand or overcome adverse conditions.

I don't think this is what the caller had in mind. But there is a definition here that pertains to software:

Robust or Robustness:  the ability of a computer system to cope with errors during execution and cope with erroneous input.

So given that definition, how will the caller know if BuildIT is robust or not? She would have to be a career systems analyst or quality assurance specialist, and would have to spend literally hours logged into BuildIT, throwing everything she can into every field that exists, attempting to crash our system or generate invalid or unexpected results.

Of course, having been in business for 20 years, and having employed such people to test, test and retest our system... plus the myriad of users that are logged in every hour of the day throwing data into their user accounts and executing functions... we can confidently make the claim that BuildIT is, well...

Robust :-)

What the caller fails to understand is the inclusion of a particular feature/functionality does not make a software system robust. Similarly, the lack of a particular feature/functionality in a software system is not necessarily a bad thing, especially when that feature is not part of (and not intimately connected to) the core competency and purpose of that system. In fact, in a recent case study with Mike Mitchell Construction in California, too many unused and/or unrelated features in a software system can be a liability, and a detriment to actually getting the system implemented with the team. We refer to such software systems as "bloated", and while "feature rich" sounds like you're getting more for your $$, in reality, you'll be paying more each month for unused features.

I suspect the caller doesn't got to Home Depot, speak to the tools rep about a compound miter saw that doesn't drill holes, and explains to him that she needs something more robust.

Or maybe so?

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

Top 3 Reasons to Switch Construction Software Systems

There's a mountain of software solutions out there for the construction industry. Construction software companies invest huge dollars (in some cases attracting millions in venture capital), hiring staff, developing functionality, and building market share.

Our customers share with us why they chose BuildIT over competing solutions. And weekly, we receive input from those in search of construction software. We ask them why they are looking, why they don't stick with the construction software they have, and why not go with "industry leading" project management suites.

Here's what keeps coming up, year after year - the top 3 reasons to drop your existing construction project management software:

1. Price

You can solve your scheduling and project management problems for far less than what you're currently paying.

Case study 1: Residential builder, California, 50 homes per year, 4 key people on their team. They were paying $600/m for a "leading" residential project management suite. They found BuildIT, and we were able to save them over $450/m AND solve their scheduling issues. $5,000+ annual savings!

Case study 2: Commercial design-builder, North Carolina, 6 key people. They left BuildIT several years ago, and moved over to a major commercial project management suite. Problem is, their team didn't fully embrace the new system, and they felt, of all things, our web mail service (which ties all communications for each team member to each project) was superior, and our scheduling tool much easier. $7,000 annual savings!

BuildIT's pricing is clearly displayed on our website, and we are always far less than competing residential/commercial project management suites. Always. It helps to be a niche software provider with a cost structure the "big guys" can't touch. They have no choice but to charge high rates (they need to cover their huge payrolls, fancy office rents, trade show budgets, employee perks, toys, debt servicing, and the list goes on).

2. Features

Mid level and enterprise software suites are typically bloated and offer way more than what most construction professionals are searching for. It's one thing to be feature rich, but you can't be all things to all people.

Customers come to BuildIT with a software stack in place already. Many have their accounting software and estimating systems in place. They are after a solution to a specific problem, or set of problems. BuildIT provides that solution without the overhead of features/functionality that our customers will never use.

Take for instance "client access" or "online selections" on your website where the client can make changes on their project. While this may work for some larger volume builders, for most it is just dead weight. Even those that tried to make it work admit it's hard to implement and maintain, and therefore they abandon it altogether. And if you are a small custom builder, spec builder, renovator, commercial general contractor or trade, these are just features you are paying for but will never benefit from.

Paying 100% of the price but only using a fraction of the software doesn't make financial sense. If all you need is scheduling and basic project management functionality, switch to BuildIT.

3. Complexity

Scheduling and project management by its very nature is complex - there are many moving parts, crises that happen daily, and you're dealing with human beings which add more variables to the mix. Adding software to the equation doesn't make these problems go away, but the right system can bring some sanity and structure to the chaos in your construction business.

The last thing you need is something complex, with a steep, lengthy learning curve, and a high likelihood of a software implementation fail. Most fail - we know, because you tell us and we've heard enough horror stories of dollars wasted on expensive, complex solutions that didn't "solve" the customer's problems.

A quick survey of construction software and you'll soon discover that there is no shortage of websites that leave your head spinning. You could roll the dice on what bubbles up on Google or who has the shiniest website, but that's risky. And if you settle on a mid level/enterprise package, congratulations, you've just been dumped into the cockpit of a 747. You'll need lots of training (time away from work most likely) before you start seeing a return.

You also need to consider your team and those outside your organization you do business with. Sure, you may have gained a working knowledge of your project management system, but what about everyone else? Does your system work for all involved? Do your guys actually log in and use it? If you use trades, do they know how to access the schedule and related documents so they can do their work, at the right time, on the correct job site? And if you are a trade, do you have a way to track all your work and advise your customers and contractors of your availability and progress? Do your crews know where to go each day without burning up your cell phone?


Software preference is subjective. Every software salesperson on the planet will be eager to tell you their system is "intuitive", "easy to use", "best of breed" (whatever that means to you as a buyer). Fact is, it's only true when it's true for you. And if you're reading this, chances are you have your own horror story to share and you're looking for relief.

Try BuildIT, let us help you schedule out one of your projects and earn your trust.

Try it now


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

Productivity - and why it should matter to your construction business

Get more done, in less time, at lower cost, with higher margins. More profit, less stress. Easy to say, hard to do, especially if you're in the construction industry.

Recently, ConstructionDIVE published an article on why the construction industry struggles with productivity gains vis a vis other "rival" industries. The content is good, worth your time, worth taking notes (their stock photo on the other hand doesn't cut it - 3 guys, 2 wearing ties, 3 different coloured hard hats - never ever happens).

For 15 years, we've been helping contractors and specialty trades benefit from BuildIT... one of the pioneer web based efficiency tools created specifically for the construction industry. Efficiency and productivity are huge parts of our business ethos, and guide much of our development. 

In my previous company, I worked with residential and commercial contractors teaching them how to use proprietary building products that beat conventional products hands down. We created custom design software solutions that helped architects, engineers and suppliers (contract lumber yards, truss manufacturers, and panelizers) size and specify products way faster than doing it "the old fashioned way" with tables, charts, and legal pads.

So when you investigate BuildIT for the first time, you'll see a "systems approach" to managing jobs, contacts, scheduled tasks, files and communications. Add to that mix the magic of collaboration - everyone (you, staff/employees, trades, investors, clients, design professionals, building officials, vendors) working together, on the same page, to produce something of value.

The aforementioned article boldly claims that "collaboration is the key to productivity"... and we couldn't agree more. They hint at the "old guard" who do not have a collaboration background, but rather are individualistic and view constant collaboration as a negative. No software solution can fix that... but over time, as new hires come on board who are open to embracing new technologies and methodologies, they will totally embrace tools like BuildIT in order to make the magic happen on their job sites.

BuildIT allows all stakeholders on the job (wherever they are) to have access to computing power, real time scheduling, and instant notification. Our notification system lets your people know what changed, and what's coming up - you control who gets notified, when, and under what circumstances. It's all done for you, automatically - allowing you to focus on higher priorities that generate greater returns for your time (read: more profit).

I spoke with a customer yesterday that had to fire two employees. Employee turnover is disruptive and costly. Unlike a warm body, the BuildIT web based scheduling system is a fraction of the cost of an employee, it never calls in sick, is available 24/7, and actually comes with a real human being on standby should you need that support to crank out a schedule, or solve a problem. It's a remarkably good deal.

Take a bold step towards greater profitability in your business - it all starts with a free test drive.

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