It is not a secret that given current tight economic conditions more owners are opting to fix buildings and systems, as opposed to build something new from scratch. This has put the service segment of the construction market in high demand, particularly contractors that can efficiently manage work orders to do more in less time.
Sometimes the software designed for large commercial contractors is not a good fit for service contractors. Service contractors have specialized needs for dispatching, scheduling work orders, and setting routes, among others. Software specifically tailored to meet these needs can provide trades with a competitive advantage.
Within the last two weeks, software providers for the service segment of the construction market have been announcing product upgrades to meet the needs of customers.
For example, last week, WennSoft, www.wennsoft.com, New Berlin, Wis., announced its new WennSoft Signature 2010 r2—a solution specifically designed for companies in energy, construction, mechanical contracting, specialty trades, and equipment-related fields. Certified for Microsoft Dynamics, the software provides CRM (customer-relationship management) and ERP (enterprise-resource planning) functionality, as well as business insights reporting.
The new product features refrigerant tracking, service estimator, and CRM accelerator. WennSoft Signature includes functionality tailored to meet the requirements of specific organizational roles.
The company will hold a virtual launch event for the product on Thursday to detail all of the new features and the future road map of the product.
One area that is a big need for service technicians is the ability to complete work orders onsite. With technology such as MobileTech from WennSoft, contractors can enter purchase orders, secure customer signatures, invoices, and collect payment in the field.
That accessibility at the jobsite is a top priority for most service construction companies today and is an area many software providers are addressing in technology updates.
HindSite Software, www.hindsitesoftware.com, St. Paul, Minn., provides service businesses with scheduling, contact management, and a ‘paperless’ work-order system. The technology is designed for plumbing, electrical, HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), and irrigation and landscaping, among others.
Through a recent update, HindSite’s mobile software can now be accessed on any Web-enabled device. The product enhancements also include features to easily manage subcontractors, improved material application and time tracking, and new billing scenarios.
The company also announced it will begin providing ongoing training as part of its monthly subscription, giving contractors 24/7 support.
For service companies that are just beginning to use technology to manage processes onsite, there could be a big learning curve when implementing the technology. Ongoing training such as this could help contractors get up and running faster.
Jonas Construction Software, www.jonas-construction.com, Richmond Hill, Ont., provides a suite of accounting, construction, and service management software for HVAC, plumbing, and specialty contractors. The company offers a fully integrated suite with modules for payroll, job cost, project management, and mobile solutions, among others. The mobile software allows for work orders to be traded back and forth between dispatchers and field technicians, providing companies with the ability to input and access data at the site.
In a blog, posted by Jonas Construction Software, the company suggests, ‘Training and support can go a long way, but one of the fastest ways to master your software is to see how other people are using it.’ For service contractors, user group conferences could be a good way to learn software secrets from others in the industry.
In the end, software is helping this segment of the market become more efficient at managing work onsite. It will be interesting to watch in the year ahead as more technology providers begin to offer feature sets targeting service technicians and as more contractors readily begin using the technology.