How do I choose the right contractor management software?

By Georgia Galloway | 24 Apr, 2022 | 4 minute read

As every business grows, it experiences pain points in scaling workforces to the increased burden that managing a larger team causes.

One of the most challenging business types to simplify is construction contractors working for the UK's major housebuilders.

And one of the easiest methods to overcome these growing pains is to use contractor management software to simplify your processes and connect your contractor managers and office team with your on-site teams.

construction wages software

From carpenters to plumbers and electricians, many contractor companies were founded by tradespeople who started out on the tools.

Growing exponentially, in some cases, from a team of 2 or 3 to 20 or even 250 is difficult - but there are many examples in the UK of tradespeople doing precisely that. So how did they achieve it?

Talking to Ryan Jones, Operations Director from LJ Construction, Ryan explains, "The last 15 years have seen us grow by an additional 100+ subcontractors on site. We couldn't have kept the business functioning without a solid software solution in place. Thankfully, we partnered with a software specialist who helped us design and build a custom solution that met the needs of the business."

Custom software requires a significant investment of time and money from the contracting firm seeking it. With the average bespoke solution costing typically from £100,000, Ryan says, "We started looking for the right software 15 years ago, and unlike today, there was no alternative other than building your own solution.

"Whilst we've invested more than £500,000 over the last 15 years, we've reaped the benefit from reducing our office wage bill and increasing our ability 'to do more with less'. Sales revenues are at an all-time high, and we can still take on more work, more subcontractors, win more sites, and our business isn't creaking."

Ryan said, "The business could not have coped without our software - it's the backbone of the company."

What are the alternatives to building a bespoke software solution for your business?

Thankfully, the last decade has seen many software solutions built for the construction industry.

Unfortunately, most of these are aimed at the 'big players' such as Taylor Wimpey and Barratt Homes, so they don't necessarily fit smaller subcontracting companies.

Stephen Clark from Site Manager Pro explains the other apparent issue: "Most software companies aren't trade contractors, so they don't tend to build the software in a way that makes sense to a contractors' or subcontractors' business.

"We've seen first-hand how unique working on site is. You have a mix of subcontractors, site managers, commercial directors and the end client - the house builder - who all have different priorities that cause many issues, from forever changing schedules, quality management, and health & safety, to list just a few."

Stephen says, "To any contractors working on building sites looking for software to help manage their business, my advice would be to seek out the smaller apps and software solutions your competitors are using. The problems you face have already been solved - it's just that you're not yet aware of the solution!"

But how do you know which software's right for your contracting business?

Here are some factors to consider when making your decision:

  • The type of business you have - If you run a construction contracting company, you will need management software specific to the construction industry. If you're UK-based, then seek out UK-based software as it's more likely to be fit for purpose.
  • Try to find niche software - For example, if you're a Carpentry contractor, seek out software designed for your business niche. Google searching "Carpentry contracting software" should get the results you're looking for. This same search logic applies to property restoration contractors, customer care contractors, plastering contractors, etc.
  • Try to find software that solves your specific problem - For example, if you've got a large workforce and your difficulties are centred on subcontractors 'double booking in' or applying for more than the fixed budget is for a plot, then you're probably looking for wages software or budget planning software, so try Google searching for "subcontractors wages software". Whereas, if your problem is health and safety management, then try Google searches for "H&S contractor management software".
  • The size of your business - The number of employees and sites you have will determine how much functionality you need from your contractor management software. There's a term called "Saas", which means Software as a service. Saas is usually quick to obtain and costs a fraction of developing your own custom software solution. Saas also should allow you to scale your software solution as your business grows.
  • Your budget - There is a wide range of prices for contractor management software, so it's essential to find one that fits your budget. Most SaaS software is priced per user per month. Expect to spend at least £10-100 per user seat. This is a great model for scaling businesses, as the business will only pay for new users as the company grows.
  • The software's features - Take some time to familiarise yourself with the various features different software programs offer. This will help you get the most bang for your buck, but don't be tempted to go for an enterprise (large, all-encompassing solution) when you don't need to. Don't use a hammer to crack a nut. The most likely outcome of implementing a significant change to the business will be that it causes problems with 'change management'. Smaller solutions are easier to manage and deploy.
  • The software's ease of use - You'll want to choose a management software that is super easy to use and understand for the most frequent users of the system - and that's likely your employed or subcontracted team that's out on site. Make sure it's mobile optimised too - most of your team on site will need it to be accessible via 4G or 5G, so mobile connectivity is essential.
  • Customer support - If you have questions or run into problems with the software, it's crucial to have access to customer support. Make sure the company you're considering offers appropriate customer support, or even better, ask for a free month's trial before purchasing.

These tips will help you choose your business's most effective contractor management system. By selecting the best software for your needs, you can streamline your business operations, increase efficiency and solve your pain points.

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