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Bridging the Digital Divide – 3 Things to Remember When Upgrading Your Back Office Software

For contractors, having the right project management and accounting software can have a big impact on the success of their business. The right software means that they will be able to:

  • Generate the financial statements they need to get the surety bond they want.
  • Effectively manage invoices and payments for multiple clients.
  • Provide their accountant and other stakeholders with an accurate picture of their company’s finances.
  • Track labor expenses in order to stay compliant with current wage rates.
  • Manage project resources and process change orders in a timely fashion.

If you’re looking to purchase office software for the first time, or are considering an upgrade to your current system, here are four things that you should keep in mind.

1. Get the Right Software

Many contractors make the mistake of creating solutions that don’t fit their business. Using spreadsheets or basic accounting software that aren’t attuned to the needs of a contracting business may work in the short term, but in order to stay competitive, your software needs to be able to cover every aspect of your business.

For example. Does your current system allow you to track information and generate reports related to:

  • Accounts Receivable?
  • Accounts Payable?
  • Job Costs for Projects?
  • Financial Statements?
  • Budgeting?
  • Payroll – Prevailing Wages/Union Rates?
  • Project Management?
  • Change Orders?
  • Contract Costs?
  • Work in Progress Reports?

If the answer to any of these questions is no, then you want to consider getting a software system that does.

The good news is that you don’t have to have to spend a fortune to get the right software for your business. Many popular business accounting programs have versions tailored specifically toward the needs of the construction industry.

In addition, many programs charge a monthly fee rather than a requiring a flat fee up front. This allows you to better distribute the cost over time and helps ensure that you’ll always have the most up to date version of the software available.

2. Get Trained

A smart contractor would never let an inexperienced worker use a complex piece of machinery without making sure that they’ve been properly trained. Unfortunately, the same mind-set doesn’t always apply to their software.

Once you have the right software it’s important you know how to use it. This should apply to multiple members of the office staff, including both the business owner and their staff members. That way, in the event that someone is out of the office, there is always someone available who can access company records, pull reports, and keep the back office running smoothly.

Fortunately, for those who are less comfortable with technology, software solutions are increasingly intuitive and user friendly. Many programs come with instructions baked into the software, a library of video tutorials, and 24/7 access to a help desk.

Need additional help? Many software companies will also provide you with access to local associates who will come to your office to work with contractors and their employees.

3. Get Your Head in the Cloud

Another aspect of construction technology that will be growing rapidly is the use of cloud based technologies.

More and more contractors are taking advantage of mobile platforms, and inexpensive tablet computers that allow them to manage their projects and paperwork from the job site.

Let’s say that you need to process a change order. In the past, you’d need to bring the information back to the office, process the necessary paperwork and then submit it to the project owner. At every step of the way, there is the potential for the change order to get lost or forgotten. That increases the chances that you won’t get paid, especially if the project owner decides not to approve the change order.

With cloud based technology, everything can be done at the job site, and the completed change order can be submitted to the project owner (and approved) before you or your team members spend time or resources on a change that may not be approved.

While technology may be challenging at first, adopting the right software to your back office can help you streamline how you do business. This means that you can devote more time to managing the project on the job site.

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