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February 08, 2018

Extracting Maximum Value from Your Software Investment

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Doing more with less: it’s a phrase every company and industry knows too well. From the need to satisfy shareholder demands to simply keeping a business profitable, industries like construction are not strangers to reduced manpower and increased reliance on software to close the productivity gap. However, industry surveys reveal a key shortfall between needs and expectations – one that demands taking a closer look at how software value is quantified.

These results reveal there is a need to adapt how companies deploy this software and train their employees to use it. Those same surveys have shown a startling number of companies reporting that their software investment didn’t yield the intended results, or otherwise felt like a missed opportunity in light of the improvements it promised.

However, digging deeper reveals a host of issues that may not be the result of bad software investments but rather, a lack of training and understanding as to how to exploit the full value of these technology investments. It’s not the fault of the end-user: being limited in both time and resources means technology is often used in only one way, a common pitfall for those companies that don’t have the luxury of exploring every functional level of a platform or application. Companies that use the same software for years form routines that can create blind spots as it relates to utilizing technology in new and helpful ways.

With better training and understanding of the full potential of construction software, companies facing the realities of reduced employees and resources can drive the results they hope to achieve. It simply requires some extra learning about the ways in which your current software investment can provide the expected ROI while delivering much-needed operational improvements.

Educating the Workforce

Construction companies in particular stand to benefit from a crystal-clear understanding of how their project management or accounting software investment can work for them. In addition, new tools like business intelligence, mobile field software, and cloud-based applications have all become valuable assets for teams to use, both from the home-office and in the field. But the impact of those investments will only truly be realized if teams know the best ways to maximize their preferred application’s assets.

That’s why many technology providers are advising construction clients to take a closer look at training resources and other mechanisms by which to drive in-depth understanding of all aspects of a platform’s functionality. Many technology consultants offer training programs  as part of their overall value proposition, but the onus is on the construction teams to make the commitment to participate. However, there are numerous ways to extract the maximum value from your construction software investment in addition to training; better yet, most of these suggestions can be achieved with minimal or no cost to you.

Driving Greater Value Through Applications and Education

While the obvious suggestion is to invest in training (and users of Sage Construction and Real Estate can access live and recorded training sessions online, or work with a United Solutions’ certified consultant),  updating software and adding applications are two surefire ways to experience all that your construction technology platform has to offer. Working with an outdated version or missing out on key upgrades could keep your employees in the dark about new features – ones that you’re entitled to as part of your annual maintenance and support plan.

Another bit of low-hanging fruit is adding applications. One of the best ways to enhance your Sage technology platform is by adding modules, such as project management or paperless document management, to a solution like Sage Construction and Real Estate. Applications make it easy to address a specific need that doesn’t necessarily require an extensive software investment, and many Sage products are capable of adding construction-specific estimating software that integrates easily with job costing applications.

Audits are another handy way to examine how your use of construction software is impacting your project teams. This can include an internal audit to evaluate how employees are using software and whether they are incorporating cumbersome manual practices that could be easily addressed with a  Sage application. Additionally, audits by an outside consultant may expose process inefficiencies that could be eliminated by finding new ways to maximize your software usage.   United Solutions offers Software Utilization Reviews (SURE).

Finally, information gathering and sharing are both proven ways to learn from others about improving software effectiveness. For instance, adding users to a centralized software system can improve information sharing across the company and increase functionality at the same time. Attending a user conference hosted by a software publisher or technology consultant can provide information about new features added to an existing platform or entirely new solutions in the pipeline. And networking with other construction professionals responsible for technology purchases and integration can offer ideas for getting the most out of your own company’s software strategy.  

Taking the Next Step

While doing more with less creates challenges for any organization, it’s reassuring to know that it is possible to derive greater value from existing resources. Understanding the full potential of your construction technology assets will help your teams appreciate the resources at their fingertips and utilize them to their fullest.

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