You Want to Buy New Software, but Don’t Know Where To Start

Are you at the point where you’re out-of-the-box accounting software no longer meets your needs? Well, congratulations! This means your company is growing, winning more bids, taking on more work and ultimately, in need of more complex accounting and reporting capabilities. You know there is software that will meet all of your requirements, but you don’t know where to start, how to stay in-budget and not overwhelm everyone in the office. With a little research and planning, you can find the right construction software for your company.

Here are 5 questions to keep in mind before buying new construction accounting software:

1. What features do I need in my software immediately and what features will I need when my company grows?
The best place to start is to make a plan. Talk to the end-users in your office and in the field. They will be able to tell you what features could help them work more efficiently. For example, does your estimating team need multiple take-off options, industry-specific databases and integration with accounting? Does your accounting department want to spend less time managing data and have access to an intuitive desktop with customizable reports and interactive inquiries? If so, consider Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate (formerly Timberline) or Sage 100 Contractor (Master Builder) as an option. Does field personnel want a way to stay connected at all times, even while not in front of an office computer? Sage Construction Anywhere, which integrates with both Sage 100 Contractor and Sage 300 CRE, connects people, documents and data together in one easy-to-use online project hub. By understanding your team’s needs, you can start to build a list of the key features that match specific software options. You will also want to make sure your new software application is flexible enough to share information with your existing software applications if needed.

2. Will the software match the skillset of your employees?

If everyone in the office has been using basic accounting and estimating software for a number of years, change can be difficult. Some software is more intuitive than others, and training can be an uphill battle for others. Keep in mind the level of computer literacy and comfort level with personnel.

3. What do you know about your existing hardware?

All software applications have a minimum hardware requirement. Do your due-diligence before you select a new software application and make sure it meets the minimum hardware requirements. In a lot of cases, you may need to upgrade your hardware. By knowing ahead of time, you will have already added this expense to your budget.

4. What are your expectations on training and support?

When you upgrade your software to a more complex application expect the following additional services and costs: implementation fee, training, support and maintenance. Software developers offer different support packages, with the cost based on a % of the list price. These additional services entitle you to product updates, tax table updates, bug fixes and telephone support. For the first year it is always best to go with the highest level of support that is offered. Your consultant should be certified, and will train you based on your specific needs. The cost of implementation and training will run at about 50% to 100% of the cost of the software.

5. Are software costs negotiable?

The answer is yes! Software packages come with a standard “list price”, but there are ways to get a discount, either through the Developer directly or from an Authorized Partner. Certified Software Consultants can help you negotiate the best price. You can also stay within budget by considering purchasing less licenses or users. Financing is an option too. Software re-sellers will work hard to get you a price you can afford. Please don’t try to save money by cutting out training and implementation. You don’t want to waste your time and money and your software consultant does not want an unhappy customer!
Upgrading your construction accounting software can be easy if you do your homework, and don’t take shortcuts. Allow the experts to guide you to the best software that meets your needs. Each product comes with multiple modules and applications which you can choose to purchase or not. It’s better to know what is available for future reference. Make sure Certified Consultants setup your software and train your staff. Your new software will provide you with a more detailed picture of what jobs are on track and what jobs need extra attention. Your business will run better and your bottom line will look better. Remember, knowledge is power!

For more information regarding software upgrades, training, consultation, support and implementation, contact:
Jane Montijo, Plumb Certified Software Consultant
Plumb is an Authorized Business Partner for Sage Software