Canadian Contractor

Dismayed… at your summary dismissal of BuildTools (software)

Ben Polley, Evolve Builders, Guelph, ON, an enthusiastic user of BuildTools, wonders why Renovantage did not include this particular software on their "final four" shortlist of contractor platforms

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March 4, 2016 by Steve Payne

In our Nov/Dec print issue, we ran an analysis of four leading residential construction software systems by Greg Peterson of After we published Greg’s report, Ben Polley (Evolve Builders, Guelph) emailed Greg to say that, in his own firm’s view, BuildTools was the best system – though it did not make the Renovantage final four. Here are those emails…

From Ben Polley to Greg Peterson…

“Hello Greg: Thank you for your insightful and detailed comparison of four different
construction management systems. Our own integration of one such similar
system has in my view become the necessary tool for our firm to streamline
our geographically dispersed projects and teams while providing us with a
solid basis on which to deploy systems that will see us able to deliver work
ever more cost effectively.

When we researched products about two years ago, we assessed many of the
same capabilities as did you.

I am however rather dismayed at a seeming disconnect between that which you
stated as being among the most important issues facing custom contractors
and builders – timely owner decisions and selections – and your summary
dismissal of one product (BuildTools) that has tools to address this while
keeping one that doesn’t do so at all (Corecon). That this dismissal was
further based on the reply of just one of your own clients is a dubious
manner in which to conduct such a published comparison in my view.

As you may have guessed, BuildTools was the product we selected. This
however is not intended as a defense and rationalization of our own choice.
Rather, from an editorial perspective I would just like to note that you
might in the future consider consistency between your own argument and your
subsequent comparison. Separately I would for the future respectfully
suggest also adding a couple of other categories for consideration.
In our own review, we assessed the provider’s commitment to Canada and
perhaps more importantly, our own anecdotal assessment of the company’s
stability and viability (little could affect a contractor more than to have
their selected platform suddenly disappear as others discussed in this
publication have already done, to say nothing of the capacity to keep up
changing technological needs and opportunities).

On these counts none had viewed Canada as having any distinction from their
American markets, except BuildTools who for a couple of years running showed
at Toronto’s Construct Canada trade show. While a small gesture it, however, proved
correctly indicative of what I hoped for – they have been responsive to
adjusting nomenclature, system fields and tax calculations to better suit
Canadian verbiage and HST requirements.

With respect to viability, it appeared to us that BuildTools was of a
magnitude several times larger than Co-Construct. BuilderTrend itself
appeared larger yet but had a rather rudimentary selections capability (at
that time) while we did not compare Corecon because of the aforementioned
lack in selection management. I do not recall comparing UDA (instead we
included Procore & Sage until eliminating them because of cost and lack of web
platform at that time).

Lastly, while only a current user could know what this might look like from
any provider, we have come to learn that support – for set up, training, and
maximizing potential – is another valuable comparator. I cannot speak for
the users of other systems, however with respect to BuildTools, we have
always found their support team to be timely in response (if not immediate),
knowledgeable and infinitely patient. Your disoriented user must not have
taken much advantage of this free and unlimited help.

On the count that BuildTools system is difficult, I would actually concur that an
inconsistency in features’ presentation and language sometimes makes initial
training more cumbersome than I would prefer (and needs to be). Our own
original assessment had predicted this to be so but it did not scare us off
as the trade-off was a system that was more ambitious or offered yet more
capabilities and/or cost-effectiveness than the others. To our pleasant
surprise they have even been responsive to our requests to make some system
changes and improvements based on our feedback.

In short, I thank you for comparison. Exposure to such systems will be to
the benefit of all readers. I would be happy to be included if you need
constructive feedback inclusive of BuildTools in the future (on the
assumption that we haven’t changed platforms by that time).
Ben Polley, Evolve Builders Group, Guelph, ON

Greg Peterson replies:
“Our evaluation was done with input from all of our members.”
Ben, the evaluation of the software programs was undertaken originally for
the benefit of Renovantage members. The first thing we did was work with our
group to develop a specification of the functionality that was required.
BuildTools certainly passed the initial screen. When we initiated phase two
of our research, one of our members expressed his dissatisfaction with
BuildTools, which his company had been using for a number of years.
Specifically, he and his project managers found aspects the project
management component to be cumbersome to use. We looked at the specifics of
his concerns and compared them to the other programs. Our conclusion at the
time was that his concerns were well-founded and that the four other
programs selected for detailed review were easier to use. Since one of our
objectives was to get all of our members on a standard platform, we dropped
BuildTools from further evaluation as we were unlikely to be successful
getting everyone on BuildTools over the reasonable concerns of one of our
members. Most of our members were on manual systems and they listened
carefully to input from other contractors as to the pros and cons of each
system. Our evaluation was done with input from all of our members.
The decision to not pursue BuildTools was one that was made with careful
consideration based on a number of factors.
Greg Peterson, President, Renovantage

Steve Payne

Steve Payne

Steve Payne is the editor of Canadian Contractor magazine
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