Engineering Software Review
Engineering software has come a long way. But, why do we need it? And how do you select the software package that’s right for your firm? First, a disclaimer. Girard Engineering is not a software development firm and we do not have relationships with software companies in any way. Simply put, we recognize the need to continually strive to ensure we have the best software solutions to support our clients and we understand that software specific to our industry is extremely important. We do not recommend one software package over another – we are simply posting the results of our evaluations as they occur to assist other engineering firms who may be looking at the same issues we are experiencing.
My first consideration was the question of project management software versus project management software written specifically for the engineering industry. I have taken into consideration such tools as Microsoft Project, their experience in writing software, their software support structure and the amount of adaptation required to make it specific for our purposes. I have decided that I don’t want to spend time in Microsoft support chat rooms explaining our business; rather, I want to spend that time training my staff on a new solution that I know will work right out of the box.
So, that question being answered, the next question was “What am I looking for in a software solution?” I’ve compiled a list of features that I am using as a comparison point between software packages:
- Is it available as a self-hosted and a cloud-based solution?
- Is it available across all platforms and devices?
- Will there be a good document, photo and drawing management solution?
- Does a client portal exist so our clients can access up to date status?
- Will the time billing solution allow staff to enter their time against projects and keep them on budget?
- Is there a quoting & job costing solution built in?
- Does it integrate with MS Office? How well?
- Is invoicing built in and will it integrate into our financial package?
- How are client management documents such as change orders, etc. managed?
- Are the bill payment solutions and payment gateways?
- Will it support Canadian tax codes?
- What kind of support is available?
- Is security and support a primary focus of the company?
- What is an affordable solution without sacrificing quality and “breaking the bank”?
- Is it a Canadian company?
There are 5 software packages we are considering: Procure, EngineerOffice, Accelo, Penta and SDC. I will post my evaluation of each package as it occurs over the next couple of weeks.