Paper based systems
Advantages: It's easy to write on paper.
Disadvantages: Did I write it down? Where did I put it? Who has the information I need? Is it up to date? Did someone make changes on another copy?
Harder to distribute to people that need it. Risk of multiple copies of similar (but not identical) information floating around. Big problems if information is lost/misplaced. Difficult to manage and communicate with mobile workers. Difficult to grow a business that relies on paperwork.
Regular desktop/server based construction software systems
Advantages: Easy to store, find, and manipulate information (but only from the computer that has the software on it).
Disadvantages: Require at least some computer skills. Could require several different systems - some are complex. Software needs to be installed, maintained, and upgraded. Computers need to be kept running. Computers need to be connected to one another. Information needs to be backed up. Computers and information is vulnerable to theft, flood, and computer crashes.
Connecting more than one computer is essential (it's difficult and expensive - but here's how you can get it free)
Web based construction software systems
Advantages: Easy to store, find, manipulate, and communicate information from any computer with an Internet connection. Easy to access. Easy to use. Avoid virtually all the headaches that come with regular desktop software
Disadvantages: can't access information without an Internet connection, however, computers with Internet connections are everywhere - in the near future high speed wireless connectivity will be everywhere
Learn more about systems...
Learn more about the advantages of business systems for contractors...
The problems with developing your own contracting systems (and how you can avoid them)...
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