Construction Software: Why Field Test Before Purchase?

Construction management software
Construction management software. Jetta Productions//Getty Images

Would you ever buy a tool without first trying it out?

It can be any kind of expensive tool: a car, a computer, or construction equipment.

Whether it is simply holding a saw or actually taking a few swings with that hammer, you certainly wouldn’t buy them without testing them out first.

The same goes for construction management software, which may become your most valuable tool. And because it’s an expensive investment, you must complete a trial.

Fortunately, most software companies offer free trials (or, at least full-featured, live demos), which allow you to try out the product for a certain amount of time. You should definitely take advantage of this opportunity for a few important reasons.

Trying it Out Will Show You if The Product Will Work For You

As with any large purchase, the most important thing to ask yourself when trying out construction software is, “Is this product compatible with your company and how you work?”

This means that you need to make sure the construction software program you’re trying out would actually work for a company of your size and type (for instance, commercial or residential, or remodeling or new build).

Does the construction software feel like a good fit? This is something you really can’t get unless you try the product, and if it becomes obvious throughout the free trial that this program was made for someone else, you should scratch it from your list.

Trying it Out Will Ensure That The Program Performs as Promised

Before you even made it to the free trial, you've probably already checked the vendor’s descriptions of the product’s functionality and features (check out this checklist of construction features for contractors!). In the description, you found that the vendor is offering all the basic services you need, such as accounting, budgeting, cost estimation, and design tools, as well as some nice, new features.

During your trial, make sure you test basic and new features to make sure they are error-free and work as expected. If the core functionality and features don’t work as expected, take it off the list as well.

Trying it Out Will Show You How Supportive The Vendor Team Is

One of the most important, but often overlooked, aspects of software is customer support. The process of buying construction software does not end with the purchase itself. After you buy the software, the vendor is still responsible for helping you and your company learns how to use all the tools and features of the program you just bought.

While you are completing the free trial, make sure you call the vendor if you ever have any questions. Then take note of how the person on the other end takes care of you. Do they stop to answer your questions in a patient and knowledgeable way, or do they brush past difficult questions, clearly displaying a lack of knowledge on the topic?

Sure, trying out software programs before purchasing them may be more of a time commitment than picking up that hammer and taking a few swings, but in the end, it’s worth it.

Buying software is an expensive but worthwhile investment in your company, so making sure the product is right for you before the purchase is that much more important.