That’s a question most people would probably never think of asking of a contractor they are interviewing to build their project. I’d make the argument that it is an important question to ask. First though we need to understand what project management software is. At a minimum it is software (ideally an app) that is used to keep track of schedules, daily logs, to do lists, change orders, selections and specifications, time clock, and warranty items. The one we use also keeps track of sales, files, messaging, finances, and reporting of various types. I’ve always been an organized person, not the type of contractor that has papers all over their dashboard and floorboard. However, thankfully the days of carrying around binders of information and a clipboard for each job, with even more files and a white board schedule board back at the office are long gone. Now everything I need is at my fingertips, whether I’m in front of my computer in the office or at the job site (or anywhere else) from my phone or tablet.
While that may sound all well and good, why should a client care how their contractor keeps track of their job? I’ve been around the industry for decades now, so I will be the first to admit that you can absolutely run a job without project management software, however there are benefits to the clients as well. Instead of being in the dark about scheduling, the client now can see what the upcoming schedule on their project looks like. The contractor’s ability to have the schedule easily accessible anytime, anywhere, also helps keep projects on track. I no longer have to say, “I’ll check the schedule when I get back to the office”. If used properly, there will be a record of what happens on the job every day (the notable things anyways). If any questions arise about what happened 2 months ago, there is a record of it, quite possibly with pictures. The key to any good builder is to be organized and having a set of to do lists always accessible is extremely beneficial to make notes and not have to worry about where they set that piece of paper with the note of the thing the client mentioned they wanted changed or the thing they know they were supposed to tell the plumber, but now can’t remember. Change orders can be processed more efficiently with the potential to create and approve a change order in the moment. There should be no question about selections and specifications . Models numbers/names are no longer a meaningless series of numbers or letters. Now the contractor can see a what the product is, what it looks like, and have access to all the specifications, installation instructions, and anything needed with the tap of a finger. If the contractor is being paid on an hourly rate, their and their employees time can all be tracked on the app, down to the minute.
In this day and age, it should be expected of a contractor to be using some sort of project management software. It is a good indication of organization and professionalism. The ability to retrieve and share information with the client, designer, and sub-contractors on the fly does wonders to avoid delays and miscommunications on a project. The leading construction management softwares are not a small investment. The fact a contractor is making an investment to improve their processes and function more efficiently shows that they are concerned with delivering the best experience and end product they can for their client. That is always a good sign. So, in addition to asking what the cost is, for referrals, time frame and all the other normal questions, perhaps the question should also be asked “what project management software to you use?”