Giving the green light on a technology investment can be a scary proposition. Make a poor choice on this front, and you’ll regret it for years to come. This is why many contractors continue to stick with their existing processes and procedures, and miss out on the many benefits of new software implementation. But it doesn’t have to be this way. If you properly map out your software search and involve the right team members, you can set yourself up for long-term success.
In a panel session at the 2019 NECA Show in Las Vegas, titled “Five Questions You Never Ask a Technology Partner, But Need To,” Steven Antill, VP of business development for the Foundation Software and Payroll4Construction.com family of companies, shared his top tips on how to determine the right technology solutions for your contracting business. He says it basically boils down to asking these five questions:
- Who are you; who am I?
- Will you show us what we want to see?
- How do you deploy your product?
- How are you going to help us succeed?
- What is your roadmap to the future?
As a contractor, you must first understand your technology partner’s true focus, said Antill. Does their software focus on a category such as accounting, estimating or project management, for example? Or are they trying to be everything to everyone? What is the partner’s typical client demographics? Do they work with small companies or large ones? He also pointed out that not all contractors are the same, and they should be completely open and honest with the vendor during the exploratory and implementation phases of the process.
Antill also said you should try to define your company’s needs before meeting with vendors. What are your expectations with the new software? How committed are you to making a change in your business? Remember, you’re trying to build a relationship with the vendor and be fair with them too.
You must also understand how the technology partner deploys its product, said Antill. Is it a cloud-based, SaaS, or on premise-type system? Where is the data hosted? Is it stored off site? Is it properly backed up and recoverable? When and who performs updates and maintenance? And what type of compliance standards does the vendor meet?
Antill went on to point out that a strong technology partner would also help you succeed by offering up an ongoing education and training program. Their education delivery methods should include webinars, user conferences, online videos, user guides, and consulting services.
Lastly, its critical for you to know the details of your vendor’s roadmap for the future. Where do they see the company in 5-10-20 years? Are they growing the company through investors or organic growth? Are they looking to acquire new products or develop them on their own internally? What is their development team currently working on?
Antill summed it up best with this comment: You are buying a relationship as much as you’re buying software.