What is home building software?
Home building software is software used by home builders and remodelers to assist in the planning and execution of residential construction projects. Utilizing this kind of software can streamline tasks and save business owners time and money compared to manual methods. These software solutions can help reduce human errors caused by incorrect excel formulas, copy and paste issues, and double-entry data systems. The primary users of this software are home builders and remodelers but trade partners and clients can be invited to use the tool collaboratively as well.
Standalone solutions vs. Integrated solutions
Standalone solutions (also known as point solutions) are aimed at helping one particular aspect of a building or remodeling project such as estimating or accounting. Integrated solutions, on the other hand, focus on every aspect of the residential construction lifecycle.
While data is typically siloed inside of standalone solutions, data in integrated solutions flows from preconstruction through a closing punch list, reducing double entry, and saving time. However, some home builders or remodelers may only need a standalone solution to address specific pain points such as material takeoff or file storage instead of a fully integrated solution.
What features are typically included?
A standalone solution will typically only have one of the following elements but integrated solutions should incorporate most if not all of the below elements together.
Accounting features give you peace of mind to know that a misplaced comma isn’t going to tank your profits from the start. These features include estimating costs, bid management, billing, invoicing, timesheets, purchase and change order management, budgeting, and syncing with your accounting system. A robust accounting system will let you push and pull information throughout your system to ensure you have accurate and up-to-date financial information to make the right decisions for your business.
Scheduling features allow you to create and share an in-depth project schedule with your team. When delays or complications arise, you can quickly make changes and easily update whoever needs to be informed whether they are team members, trade partners, or clients. These schedules should allow for different views such as a Gantt chart, task list, or calendar view depending on your preference. While no two projects are the same, solutions with reusable schedule templates allow you to quickly replicate previous work to get a jump on your next project.
Clear communication with your team, your trade partners, and your client is vital to a project’s success. But communication can get messy with long email threads and too many text messages. Here’s where communication features come in handy. A centralized communication hub makes it easy for you to see, sort, and organize your messages with your team, trade partners, and clients to answer questions and keep the project moving forward.
Project management features provide an overall organizational structure to your residential construction business. Team member task lists auto-populate from your schedules across projects with updates and reminders sent automatically to create accountability and clear communication across an organization. This is just one example of how integrated project management features pull the whole system together to save you time on project-level tasks to think more strategically about building your business.
Residential construction projects happen in the office and in the field. A mobile app is a great way for home building software to give quick access to schedules, communication, time clock management, and more to team members in the field to reduce mistakes or delays.
How to choose the right residential construction software for your team
Now that you’ve realized there has to be a better way to run your business you’ve begun your journey to finding a software solution. But the job is not over yet. Now you need to learn more about the solutions you are considering to find the right fit for your business.
Match your pain points to the software’s solutions
Take a moment to list out your frustrations with your current process. It could be the 70+ hour work weeks, the dread of an incorrect excel formula ruining your project before it starts, or the realization that you’ve left money on the table by not charging your clients for change orders. Whatever your frustrations are it’s important to remember them as you research solutions and ask yourself if the software’s features will fully address your needs.
Read customer reviews and testimonials
Hear from current customers by reading reviews on trusted review sites such as Trustpilot or Capterra. This can help give you an idea of how businesses similar to yours have benefited from implementing software.
Watch product demos or tutorials
Head to your prospective solution’s website to find resources such as webinars or product demos to get a view of the software in action and to hear from product experts.
After identifying the right type of solution for your team, and doing a little research to see which software has the right features for your needs you are ready to pull the trigger and purchase some new software.
How to onboard your team to your new software
Now that you’ve identified a solution the work has just begun. Picking software was step one, getting your team to fully utilize it is step two. Thankfully there are some tips to help get your team onboard to get the most out of your new software.
Highlight the benefits to your team members
Learning a new system can feel like a chore if it’s not put in the right context. Help your team members and trade partners understand that your software purchase is not another item for them to add to their plate but a way to make their day-to-day job easier. Highlight the ways that team members using the software will benefit themselves and the entire organization at the end of the day.
Leverage your new support team
There is nothing more deflating to the excitement of implementing new software than hitting technical roadblocks that stall momentum. Whether you can’t get your team members added, your project data didn’t import right, or you don’t know how to use the budgeting feature, any technical snafu is frustrating and time-consuming. Limit the damage these bumps in the road can cause to team morale by using the resources or support provided by your new home building software company to address issues on the front end. For the self-sufficient business owner, many companies provide searchable help centers to commonly asked questions. If you’d prefer to talk to a real person, give your customer support a call or schedule time with an expert to get your product questions answered.
Attend webinars and training sessions
Instead of reactively waiting for a problem to seek a solution, proactively attend webinars or training sessions with your team members to get the most out of your purchase. Webinars can teach you the ins and outs of specific features like estimating, or let you hear from other software users about how they are dealing with current issues like lumber prices. These sessions and webinars can teach you tips and tricks to better utilize the software, how to connect the dots between disparate systems, and let you hear directly from other software users.
Using your new software to win more jobs
You likely sought out a software solution to help save you time and make your job a little easier to manage. But did you know you can also utilize this same software to help win more jobs as well?
Include your software in the sales pitch
Your home building software can be the differentiating factor between you and your competitors. If a client is deciding between two companies and one company can showcase its ability to keep the client in the loop with daily email summaries, easy to follow deadlines, and instant alerts, suddenly the other company’s email approach looks lost in the stone age.
Capture more referrals with a documented process
At the end of a project everything is winding down and preparations are being made to transition to the next project in the queue. While this may seem like a natural time to take your foot off the gas, it’s actually an ideal time to leave your client with a great last impression. Use your software to create systems to clearly define a closing punch list to ensure you resolve any outstanding to-dos and to ask your client for a referral before you are waist-deep in the next project.