Contractor Software

By Neil Smit, RS Means | September 28, 2010

Starting with the takeoff for estimating, moving on to preparing the bid and then managing all aspects of the project, we now have access to an unlimited selection of contractor software. One of the leaders in this field is Heavy Construction Systems Specialists Inc. (HCSS).

HCSS was founded in 1986 and its HeavyBid software has been used by hundreds of heavy/highway contractors for nearly 20 years for estimating, bidding and construction management of all stages of a project. One of the more interesting new software programs developed by HCSS is The Dispatcher. "The Dispatcher was designed to help contractors increase productivity by making it possible to track equipment and personnel with one, easy-to-use, graphics-oriented software." We can easily view all personnel and equipment on single jobs or multiple jobs superimposed on a map. By zooming in on our map, we can now drag an excavator from one job to another and adjust our project management schedule accordingly. Using HCSS we can develop and update any number of standard or custom project reports for our heavy and highway projects.

Ground Rules is another handy software program that will help us with all aspects of earthwork estimating and productivity analysis and documentation.

While we're into roads and highways, check out the software for road and highway signs. Guidesigns allows you to create any number of signs in all shapes, colors and sizes.

For the general contractors, homebuilders, commercial builders, remodeling contractors, and the subcontractors, a handy software-estimating tool is the Excel Estimating Template. The program can be easily formatted to fit your own requirements. Also, check out Estimating Systems, Inc. (ESI). They've been developing estimating software for some 20 years for Job Order Contracting, Delivery Order Contracting and SABER (Simplified Acquisition Base Engineering Requirements).

What about job order contracting (JOC)? This comprises one of the fastest growing segments of the facilities renovation industry. The public sector of education, health care and municipal repair and renovation projects currently represent billions of dollars in contracts across the United States. Means JOCWorks, (also referred to as DOC or SABER) project management software for job order contracting, was recently released by Reed Construction Data/RSMeans. This software was quickly adopted by five states (California, Washington, Minnesota, Arizona, and Texas) with more expected to follow this year. JOCWorks is not only used for estimating a project but can be used to efficiently support the entire project management process from start to finish.

Any forms you could possibly need for any construction project from concept to completion can be located in the software of The American Contractor by Maxwell. Some of the features and benefits provided are:

  • Proposal Wizard
  • Assemblies & Formulas
  • Item Database
  • Unlimited Memos
  • Customizable Proposals
  • Proposal Tracking
  • Material Lists & P.O.s
  • Alternates & Change Orders
  • Phase Analysis

The spreadsheets with your company's assemblies and formulas can be easily customized and color-coded. Once you've created your company reports such as material lists, bid sheets and proposals, these can be called up tweaked on demand. These can all be integrated with job cost tracking, dispatching, accounts receivable, and purchase orders.

When a new job is under way, check out Project Management Software 101. This is an indispensable tool for businesses large and small for the management and completion of projects provided by Primavera. Some of the features are:

  • Defining and organizing all the discrete tasks of the project.
  • Allocating all resources that are needed to complete a project on time.
  • Scheduling all tasks on a timeline showing duration and dates.
  • Comparing the planned project outcome with the actual project outcome.

Are you a homebuilder? Timberline has a special software program for homebuilders and another special program for architects and consulting engineers. They also provide their own accounting software.

I'm sure there are other software programs out there on the Internet for the construction industry, but these programs should get you started and help you control your projects.