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), authored by Pritam Tamang on September 12, 2017.
Here is an excerpt of that article:
Resource-strapped small businesses always face a challenge when choosing new software. Open source software, which comes without any license fee, seems to be a pretty straightforward choice for these businesses.
But as a small business, you need to keep in mind that open source software (OSS) will eventually cost you money.
For example, WordPress—a popular open source content management system—may seem free, but businesses may easily find themselves paying for plugin upgrades or hiring experienced developers for advanced customization.
Calculating the total cost of ownership for OSS is a necessary step when considering a tool. It’s also important to check how active the user community is, as software updates are often reliant on the volunteer contributions of community members.
Brandon Wirtz, CEO of Recognant, points out that software buyers choosing between proprietary software and OSS must make a critical choice:
“Decide who you’re going to put your trust in: the community or an organization, and weigh how big or smart that community is.”
Unfortunately, OSS project management tools don’t really have an active, thriving community, as WordPress and Drupal enjoy.
According to Gartner, “The common benefits sought from open source software, such as flexibility and innovation, rarely apply to OSS PM software because such software is seldom innovative, nor does it see much active community contribution.”
As an alternative to OSS, there are many low-cost project management tools that are ideal for small businesses. Let’s look at the significant differences between open source and low-cost project management tools:
- 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:
- When I need support, who am I going to call?
- If I do connect on the phone with a support guy, how is he getting paid?
- If I'm not paying for their free software, and other people presumably aren't paying for their free software, then who is?
- What happens when the party is over, and they change their pricing strategy and start billing me?
- 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
1 866 585 5050 ext 1