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May 02 2016

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A US construction IT snapshot

In July 2015, Capterra asked 100 US construction managers about their software purchasing decisions, though it’s a survey that poses as many questions as it asks.

Capterra logoThe latest Capterra snapshot of US construction managers’ purchase and use of construction management software shows the average annual spend per business to be around US$2,700, with almost a third spending more than they expected, and rarely reaping any great improvements in supply chain communications.

SaaS and mobility

Capterra midrange web adoptionI spoke to the report’s author, Rachel Burger (who also compiled a previous report sponsored by Procore). She told me the survey indicated SaaS tool adoption had grown to almost half: 47% of the surveyed users said they were using web-based tools, but she expected “a pretty big explosion” in cloud adoption as more people were adopting mobile working.

I asked Rachel if there was any correlation between company turnover and adoption. She responded with this graph, saying:

“One interesting thing is that Installed options seem to be preferred on the revenue extremes (less than $5M and more than $250M) and cloud options are preferred in the middle ranges ($5M to < $250M). That’s unusual – not sure why that might be.”

One explanation could be that smaller businesses are still sticking with traditional on-premise software (the sample included a large number of small business employees – hence the low annual expenditure), while the largest corporations have budgets and in-house expertise allowing them to invest in enterprise tools, perhaps self-hosting web tools too. The space between is the ‘sweet spot’ being exploited by SaaS businesses: companies aware of the limitations of installed software, but unable and/or unwilling to invest in high-end ERP, etc.

Inertia

capterra software longevityShifts from previous years were slight – though I suspect this has much to do with the installed base of legacy systems, and the traditional habits and views of older construction managers (many of which had previously relied on spreadsheets, generic project management tools (eg: MS Project) and manual methods. It was instructive to see how highly the surveyed managers rated the tools they had used the longest (right). The report observes:

“… because construction is an aging industry, it is notoriously slow to pick up on new technology…. Managers like to stick with what works, making them slow to change over their construction software.

Utility

Capterra software features graphThe survey asked about what mattered most to construction managers in selecting software (right). Functionality, ease of use, price, its wider popularity, implementation and training, vendor reputation and support were all mentioned. The survey is mute on whether being web-based might sway a buyer’s decision, and (relating to another question) if users switched to a different solution because it was (or wasn’t) web-based. It might also have been useful to consider if the time taken to implement solutions varied between on-premise and online systems.

Time sheets, job scheduling, estimating management, job costing, and document management features were the most valued capabilities delivered by construction management software, said Capterra.

Limitations

For wider or detailed insights about the SaaS construction collaboration space, the survey’s value is limited, and it throws up almost as many questions as it seeks to answer.

For a start, the survey’s definition of construction management is very broad – covering project management, financial job tracking, forecasting, change-order management, document management, collaboration, and estimating (and presumably excluding generic office software, design authoring, etc). It is mainly focused on users employed by contracting organisations engaged in general contracting, residential and non-residential construction, with few civil engineering forms, and no representation among buyers in, say, construction project management consultancies or expert client organisations. The small sample size (100) and US focus limits its wider applicability, and – as I outlined – I think there were also some missed opportunities to extend/clarify some of the questions.

Permanent link to this article: http://extranetevolution.com/2016/05/a-us-construction-it-snapshot/

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