Free Construction Software - Where Is It?
Most contractors start out their search for construction software with one price in mind: free. You can search high and low, but you'll be hard-pressed to find a good, free construction software package that fits your needs. Why don't they exist and what's the next best alternative for the contractor on a budget?
The answer is simple: you get what you pay for. Contractors are more familiar with this adage than anyone-they've all experienced the annoyance and aggravation that cheap materials or tools can bring, but most will still kick off their hunt for construction software by seeking out the elusive, free offering. After all, there are free alternatives to QuickBooks, free alternatives to Microsoft Office, surely someone has developed a suite of free construction software!
The reason the open source community or private developers haven't turned their eye to making free construction software is because it's a relatively small niche to work in. Usurping a giant like QuickBooks with a gratis alternative is a rewarding and attention-grabbing endeavor for a software developer. Creating a free construction software suite for the comparatively small construction market is not.
So what's a contractor to do when any price is too high for an integrated construction software solution? The only option is to fashion your own. We've seen impressive project management systems that contractors have stitched together out of free or nearly free pieces of software. Normally these systems rely heavily on pieces of Microsoft Office, Google Docs and various other software which comes together to form a workable project management system.
The caveat to crafting your own solution? Time and scaling. The time it takes to create a customized collection of construction software frequently exceeds the price of a pre-made, integrated solution, and these homemade systems typically don't scale well. Many of the prospective clients that we speak to on a daily basis are ones who managed to get by with such a system in the early years of their business, but now they're expanding and feeling the growing pains that are all too common with free construction software systems.
The hunt for a capable, full-fledged, free construction software goes on. For now though, we'd suggest sticking with construction software that's simply low-priced.