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The Ultimate Guide to Selecting the Right Construction CRM Software for Your Business

Introduction

You’ve decided that managing opportunities and relationships with spreadsheets or generic CRMs aren’t cutting it. You need construction CRM software that allows you to manage all your opportunities and bids and provides you with the visibility you need to act and win. You want to build better relationships and create winning proposals in a fraction of the time it takes you today. Well, you’re not alone. In fact, more construction companies are realizing that when it comes to CRM software, only construction CRM software helps them chase the right opportunities to grow their business. So now what, what’s the best way to move forward and ensure you maximize your return on investment?

In this article, we’ll outline the key steps you’ll want to take to ensure you make the right decision for your company. But, before we get into the specifics, there are some ground rules you want to make sure you follow:

     1. Avoid being overwhelmed – Following a methodical approach ensures you are being objective in your decision-making process and enlists the appropriate stakeholders to have a unified and objective methodology.

     2. Circumvent scope creep – The best way to ensure scope creep stays out of your selection process is by doing the heavy lifting up front and with members of the organization that will benefit from your construction CRM software investment.

     3. Do your due diligence – It’s human nature to want to get to the result as quickly as possible, but taking the time to assess and vet your options is a critical component to maximizing your return on investment.

     4. Make this initiative a priority – There’s a lot to be gained by implementing construction CRM software.  Ensuring this is a priority for all involved will be critical to minimizing the time to value for your company and employees. Said another way, delays in making your decision potentially gives your competition a leg up.

     5. Establish a realistic timeline – be thorough in your pursuit, but don’t over think it. By ensuring that this endeavor is a priority for all involved, a realistic timeframe for this process is 4-6 weeks.  

    6. Trusted Advisors Matter – This article is written primarily from the perspective of starting completely from scratch. Recommendations from colleagues, your network, professional advisors, etc. are worth their weight in gold and can expedite the selection process. Exceptions to “starting from scratch” have been highlighted where necessary.

12 Steps to Selecting the Right Construction CRM Software

When it comes to selecting the right construction CRM solution, think Define, Identify and Evaluate, and Select. Don’t try to make that an acronym, because it turns out to be DIES, but no worries, if you follow the approach, you’re sure to select a winning solution that helps you thrive. Let’s get to it.  

Define

Create the Team

Assigning a team to this important initiative ensures you get a 360-degree view into what it is you’re hoping to accomplish with this investment. There are three teams that you’ll want to identify:

     1. Executive Sponsor(s) – This may be a team of one (just the VP of Preconstruction, as an example) or a team of a few individuals like the CEO, VP of Preconstruction, and the VP of Construction. No matter the number of people, the role of this team is extremely important as they make sure that the goals and execution of the selection process align with the overall business. They also serve as a “go-to” resource when needing further clarification on something or progress stalls out.  

     2. Buying Committee – The core team (sometimes called the project team) who Is responsible for the overall selection process. This team will be responsible for carrying out the majority of what is outlined in this article.  When assigning team members, it’s important to have representation from every functional group of employees who will be using the construction CRM software (for example, marketing and preconstruction). Typically, it’s the functional leader of the respective group who is a part of the buying committee. And, to keep things organized it’s a good idea to appoint someone as the project manager to keep everyone and everything organized and focused on the goal.

     3. Influencers – Representation of functional teams who will be using the construction CRM software daily. This team of subject matter experts can help identify required workflows, reports, dashboards, and potential integrations that are key to a successful adoption of the solution. This team becomes advocates to help evangelize and ensure optimal adoption once a solution is selected and implemented.

Identify and Socialize Business Objectives

Once your teams are in place, it’s time to get down to business, and the first order of action is to identify the business objectives you’re looking to accomplish with new construction CRM software. This might be something that’s structured and provided to you by the executive sponsors or it might need some refinement to ensure it’s well understood by everyone. Here are some things to consider:

     1. Increase efficiency in evaluating opportunities.

     2. Increase win rates.

     3. Build better relationships.

     4. Streamline the proposals process.

     5. Proactive management of the project pipeline.

Whatever the objectives, the goal is to make them clear and achievable. So, when creating them, it’s important to make them SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound). Check this article out for more information on SMART goals.  

Additionally, be sure to identify your expectations and timeline for implementation, data migration, and what you’ll require for vendor support and training.

Checkpoint: Once created, be sure to socialize with the executive sponsors and the team of influencers. Make any necessary modifications and then you’re ready for the next step.

Define and Document Impacted Business Processes

As a team (along with influencers), evaluate all the business processes and workflows that are currently in place that could potentially be impacted by new construction CRM software. For each, articulate the challenges that are inherent in them and identify the corresponding requirements expected in your constructionCRM software to overcome the challenges. You’ll also want to spend time identifying new workflows or business processes that you want to adopt.  

Once you feel good about the details and requirements you’ve identified, it’s time to prioritize them. Decide as a team what that might look like, but here’s a suggestion to get you started:

     Priority A = Must Have

     Priority B = Work Around Acceptable

     Priority C = Nice to Have

Create a matrix like the one below to help you organize and manage the impacted business processes and the requirements for your new system.

Checkpoint: Schedule and share your list with the executive sponsor(s)

Integration Requirements

The construction technology stack is comprised of several different systems, yet a single source of truth remains the north star with any additional component added. It’s very important to document the integration capabilities expected from your new construction CRM software. And, although a native integration may not be possible, be sure to be able to identify an acceptable workaround to ensure you’re not surprised down the road.

You’ll know best what your technology stack is comprised of, but here are some suggestions to keep in mind regarding integration:

     1. ERP (Sage, Viewpoint, CMiC etc.)

     2. Construction Project Management (RIB 4.0, Procore, Autodesk)

     3. Estimating (Sage, Trimble, etc.)

     4. Email Platforms (MailChimp, Constant Contact etc.)

Checkpoint: Schedule and share your requirements with the executive sponsor(s) and influencers.  

Identify and Evaluate

Now that you’ve completed the 4 steps of the define phase, you’re ready to move into the identification and evaluation phase of your construction CRM software selection process. We realize that this phase can be a bit overwhelming, but, since you’ve defined and prioritized your requirements, you can feel confident in your path forward.

Create a List of Potential Solutions

It’s time to identify a list of solutions you’ll want to check out. A good place to start is recommendations from trusted advisors. If you have one or two recommendations in hand, be sure to put them at the top of your potential solutions list, as this will save you a lot of time. Read on for adding more to your list but know that you probably don’t need to have more than about 4 construction CRM software solutions given your list is comprised of recommendations from those you trust.  

If you don’t have recommendations, you’ll want to identify a list of solutions (8-10) to check out. There are many ways to approach this step but probably the most effective way is to look at software review sites. There are many available, and they have many similarities and some differences. What’s important here is not feeling like you must use just one. In fact, we recommend you don’t because not all solutions are listed on every review site. Check them all out to compile a list of potentials you feel comfortable with. Here are a few you’ll want to look at:

     1. G2 – A platform for finding and reviewing software and services.

     2. Software Advice – A company that provides advisory services, research, and user reviews on business software.

     3. Capterra – A marketplace serving as an intermediary between buyers and software vendors.

     4. Trust Radius – A buyer intelligence platform for business technology.

Conduct a High-Level Evaluation

With your list of potential solutions and business requirements in hand, as a team, evaluate each solution at a high level.  

We’re not suggesting you engage each company at this point for a demo. However, if that’s something that will make you feel more comfortable, go for it. Just know, depending on the number of potentials on your list, this could take a while. Instead, go to their websites and learn about the fundamental benefits they’ll provide your company, watch their videos, see who their existing customers are, see who they serve. Assess how their website addresses some of your must-have requirements identified above. Keep in mind too, that many of the review sites listed will include customer testimonials, so be sure to look there too. And finally, you may also want to check out YouTube to see if the vendors have a channel. Often, you’ll find good video content that might help you with your homework.

For each solution, make notes of perceived strengths and list any concerns you may have after doing your research. You’ll use the data collected here to narrow your list.

Narrow Your List

If your list is comprised of recommended solutions, you may want to skip this step and move on to “Create and Distribute a Request for Proposal (RFP)”. If not, read on.

Once you’re completed your high-level evaluation, review the results together as a team. The objective of this exercise is to narrow your list down to the top 5 solutions you want to evaluate at a more granular level. Keep in mind a list of 5 solutions is a rule of thumb if you’ve not had any exposure to specific construction CRM software.

Read through the entire list and discuss what you’ve learned as a team. Ensure everyone has an opportunity to share their thoughts and be sure to capture any additional comments about each solution.

Once completed, rank the solutions from first to last and capture your rationale for the ranking that was given.  

Checkpoint: Schedule and share your list with the executive sponsor(s) and influencers.

Create and Distribute a Request for Proposal (RFP)

A request for proposal is a business document that announces a new business initiative (new construction CRM software), and requests bids from qualified software developers (the list of 5 solutions identified in the previous step).

There are 3 fundamental components to this process of which you’ll use the information from previous steps in this article:

     1. Creation – The development of an actual document that will be sent to the solutions identified in the previous step. An RFP typically is comprised of these sections:

          a. Introduction – A brief over view of your organizations, the purpose of the RFP, an overview of the timeline (due dates for responding, and dates for when you’ll be back in touch with them), and instructions on how the vendor should respond.

          b. Background Information – Information about your business and the reasons you’re looking for a new CRM solution.

          c. Objectives and Goals – What you’ll achieve by implementing new construction CRM software.  

          d. Functional Requirements – A detailed list of requirements and priorities.

          e. Technical Requirements – Specifications for integrations with existing software and tools, and overall system requirements (i.e. SaaS, On-Premise, security etc.).

          f. Implementation and Support –Timeline for implementation, requirements for vendor support and training, and data migration.

          g. Pricing and Payment terms – A request for an explanation from the vendor on pricing and payment terms.

     2. Distribution – Contact the software vendors, providing them with the RFP, presenting them with the timeline and instructions on how to respond. It’s a good idea to ask the vendor for acknowledgement that they will respond. Provide a date that they need to acknowledge intent to respond or not respond by.

     3. Collection – As responses to your RFP start to come in, assemble details in a matrix so that you can easily compare each vendor to the others. This will expedite the review process and allow you to have a good understanding of who the front runners are for each of the requirements.

Selection

This is where it starts to get fun and allows you to see the fruit of your labor. It’s time once again to get together with the buying committee to make some decisions.

Create a Short List

With the matrix developed from your list of RFP respondents, review each vendor, and rank them 1-5 (or whatever number of constructionCRM software solutions you have on your list). The intent here is to identify the top 3 contenders - the short list.  

Review the results, discuss the findings, debate your positions, and align on the ranking of each vendor. Be sure you’re able to articulate as a group why a company was included in the top 3 vs. not included in the top 3.  

Checkpoint: Share your decision with the executive sponsor(s) and influencers.  

Conduct Introductory and Deep Dive Demos

Contact your short-listed vendors to schedule introductory meetings and overview demos followed by deep dive demos.

The introductory meeting and overview demos are an opportunity to introduce yourselves to each other and get a general sense of how the software works, the personalities involved, and the general feel of the company.  

The deep dive demo allows the software vendor to demonstrate at a detailed level the functionality of the product. They should be using the RPF responses to demonstrate how the software works and you should be able to ask probing questions allowing you to assess the “fit” against your requirements. It’s at this time that you should discuss other requirements related to implementation, data migration, ongoing support, training, pricing, payment terms etc.

Go/No Go Decision

After meeting with the three short listed vendors, regroup and discuss your findings. Evaluate each vendor against your list of requirements and determine which ones you want to engage in contract negotiations.  

Checkpoint: Share your decision with the executive sponsor(s) and influencers.  

Contract Negotiations

This is the final phase and should be conducted with vendors you’re seriously interested in doing business with. It’s here that you discuss pricing, agree to the terms and conditions, establish implementation timelines etc. This phase may or may not be done by someone on the buying committee. It is important to work within the guidelines of your organization, ensuring that the executive sponsor(s) have authorized the person responsible for this phase.  

As you work through this process the goal is to come out the other side with an agreement for your new construction CRM software. Once both parties agree, sign the contract, pop the champaign, let the rest of the company know about their new construction CRM software, and get to work, you have a solution to get up and running.

Conclusion

Selecting software is an involved project, but it doesn’t need to be overwhelming. By following the steps outlined in this article, you’re sure to make the best decision for your company.  

On behalf of ProjectMark, we wish you the best.