Construction managers and contractors have an ongoing need to document their work in a variety of different ways. Without that documentation, the maintenance of an effective business approach is virtually unimaginable. For this reason, contractors and construction managers rely heavily on standardized, well-designed forms that make the documentation process as straightforward and time-efficient as possible. Unfortunately, many form solutions in the industry rely on expensive, proprietary software. Typically, non-software-based solutions can provide the same level of usefulness at a much lower cost.
Forms commonly used by contractors and/or construction managers include everyday documents such as change orders, daily reports, submittal logs and transmittal forms, as well as more singular documents such as an Application for Payment, Certificate of Substantial Completion or Contractor Release of Lien. Widely accepted styles of these forms come from organizations such as the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the Construction Specification Institute (CSI). By using standardized or widely accepted forms, contractors, construction managers and other professionals involved in the construction industry can share information both internally and externally with the knowledge that this information will be easily understood by others.
Many of the companies in the construction form industry release their products as licensed software that the end user must install on a computer. By issuing their products in this format, these companies gain the ability to restrict the end user’s access to any given form. For instance, licensed software often becomes inactive when the term of a license ends. The end user may also only be able to install a licensed software product on a limited number of computers, or can only reinstall the software a limited number of times before needing to repurchase the product in question. In addition to these restrictions on usage, software-based products often cost hundreds of dollars, even when they only contain a single form or a small selection of forms.
Instead of offering their products as licensed software, some vendors of contractor forms release their products in file formats used by popular computer programs that contractors and construction managers likely already own. Examples of these types of commonly used programs include Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel. End users gain several benefits from using contractor forms issued in these formats. For instance, rather than purchasing and learning how to use entirely new software, they can purchase single or multiple files for programs they already understand and use easily. Since they’re using files rather than proprietary licensed software, end users also retain access to those files long-term without the need to pay for them again at a later time. In fact, some companies will reissue their files for free if an end user experiences a computer crash that deletes a previously purchased product.
Contractor forms issued in Word and Excel formats also typically cost much less than licensed software, and construction industry professionals who use these forms can save considerable amounts of money in both the short and long term. Some companies further increase the value of their products by offering discounted or low-cost packages of files that contain a range of forms commonly used during various portions of the construction process.