Mastering the Software Maze

How to pick right tools for your people and keep the sales guys in check.

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The first time we introduced ourselves to the owner of a sitework company and got hit with "Oh great, more software guys," we were taken aback. Less so the hundredth.

But we carry the rap for a reason.

Vendors are selling you on benefits you thought you captured 30 years ago. There are five of us for every one thing you need. Our language is indistinguishable. Our acronyms change in real time. Our demos look promising, but once you’ve slapped down the credit card, little works like you thought it would.

At CloudRig, we meet with companies that are trying to connect the field, office, and finance  to identify where they’re making money,  losing money, and why. We frequently hear that contractors are 9, 12, or even 18 months into efforts to go live with legacy software solutions. They’re plagued by bugs that take years to resolve, by integrations haven't materialized, and by unexpected bills.

Everyone is a bit to blame. Salespeople have oversold, and contractors haven’t learned to ask the right questions.

In a series of articles, we’ll try to help demystify the process and give you the tools you need to reign in the software guys and gain more value from your investments.

Software can keep even the inspector smiling.

Start with the end in mind by looking for tools that facilitate 1) fast onboarding & quick ROI, 2) sustained use, and 3) incremental value as your company and processes mature over time.

Software vendors must deliver on two key criteria to make a fast starts and sustained value possible—
1. Simplicity
Whether you’re shopping for the field, ops, or finance, the value that software generates is dictated by user adoption.

And adoption is dictated by simplicity, for the field in particular.

This doesn’t just mean big buttons—although those certainly help. Apps must expose precisely the capabilities and  information that foremen require to manage day-to-day, but no more. Products that look like they were built for accounting or estimating and shrunk to fit onto an iPad—dozens of options, buttons, and menus on every screen—generate the horror stories above: ”We’re 12 months into it, and we’re pretty close to having the field onboard.” And foremen should have a hard time getting lost, thanks to straightforward workflows with clear prompts, safeguards, and alerts throughout.

Next time you sit through a demo, ask yourself, “Is this easy enough for a working foreman to get through in 10 minutes at the end of a long day?” Ask the software vendor, “How many minutes on average does it take to train and certify a new foreman on this technology?”

For CloudRig, that average is 45 minutes.

Keep it friendly for the field.
2. Connectivity
Software across most industries is becoming more specialized and fragmented over time. Legacy accounting systems (or ERPs) that don’t connect with other tools and force customers to buy all their software from one vendor are giving way to lighter platforms that integrate with lots of tools that do one or two things really well. Heavy civil software will get there, too, as companies bring modern point solutions that integrate with each other to market.

In the meantime, ensure that any new software you buy integrates with the right pieces—in particular with your ERP, which is typically old, hard to connect with, and remains the source of truth for all your company’s historical data. Failing to do so sets you up for endless double-data entry. Worse, it reduces the value that new software can provide. Field management systems that don’t integrate out of the box with your accounting system, for example, can’t tell you how crew performance affects your bottom line.

Ask your prospective vendors if connectivity is out-of-the-box. Ask if it's free. Ask to see proof of it in the demo.

CloudRig is—you guessed it— a modern system that connects to every major ERP, for free, out of the box.

Take it from a software guy—we know we need to speak more clearly, price more transparently, and deliver on development promises. In the meantime, you can start taking charge of your own success by getting sharper on your criteria and on the questions you pose to potential vendors.

There’s a lot of value for those that get it right. If you’re lucky, your Cat might be worth 70% of its purchase price after five years. The value of software, when used correctly, compounds.

Know someone who'd benefit from CloudRig?  Drop us a line at

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