What keeps many builders from using integrated software solutions?

February 7, 2018

Why Builders Use (or Do Not Use) Integrated Construction Management Software

In our January 2018 Omnibus Survey, the 300 home builder respondents told us if they do or do not use integrated construction management software for their businesses. In a previous post, I discussed which software products respondents indicated they’re using and why. Here, I’ll go into a bit more detail on what functions are being used most by those who use integrated software solutions, as well as what keeps others from using it at all.

For Those Who Do: How?

The 22 percent who stated they do use some sort of software gave us additional insight into what functions it was performing in their business. Home Innovation provided 19 possible functions of construction management software from which respondents could select all that applied for their businesses. On average, each builder reported using their construction management software for 9 of the 19 options provided. 

Shares of Integrated Construction Management Software Functions Used by Builders

Source: Home Innovation Research Labs Omnibus Survey, January 2018

These builder responses give us insight into how computers are automating some of construction’s most difficult tasks. The most popular function was managing Change Orders, followed by Scheduling, Estimating, Jobsite Management, and Document Management. A solid majority of respondents said they use the software for Bookkeeping functions, as well as Communicating with Subcontractors, and for Proposals and Contracts. About half use software platforms to document Project Specifications, for Purchasing, and Payroll and Invoicing. Fewer than half use it for Communicating Updates to Suppliers or Homeowners, for Designing/Drawing, Employee Time Clock, and Inventory management.

For Those Who Don’t: Why?

The 88 percent of builder respondents who stated they are not using construction management software were given the opportunity to explain why via a “fill-in-the-blank” style question. More than 200 builders wrote in replies. The most common answers were basically, “If it ain’t broke, don’t mess with it!” In other words, these respondents feel their current non-software-driven processes are sufficient and don’t see a need to integrate software solutions into their businesses at this time. Some said management software is not a good fit for their small businesses, or that the software available was not reflective of their current business processes. Cost was also mentioned by nearly 20 percent of respondents. Interestingly, 7 percent predicted that their staff would be resistant to learning and using this type of software.

Reasons Why Builders Are Not Using Integrated Construction Management Software

Source: Home Innovation Research Labs Omnibus Survey, January 2018

Representative statements made by respondents giving the #1 reason—Old Way is Good Enough--included:

Builder responses for the #2 reason—Business is Too Small—included:

Some builders said they have either investigated or used integrated software in the past and found they were not a good fit for the business. A few of these types of responses include:

Others commented on the steep learning curve, complexity of the software, and their lack (or employee’s lack) of technical skills.

Having worked with building product and service providers for decades, one lesson I’ve learned is that obstacles create opportunities. It seems that among current non-users, simpler or more flexible versions of the software would answer some of these issues. Also, educating builders on how using construction management software creates opportunities to be better at their business—i.e., create fewer mistakes, easier coordination, better customer relations, and higher profits—is critical. There also seem to be opportunities for software providers to more readily train and integrate new users into their systems.

Home Innovation’s March Omnibus Survey of Builders is right around the corner. If you have the need for quick and cost-effective feedback from the industry, contact me to discuss how we can include questions that address your information needs.