Survey shows that more contractors are adding IT staff, equipment to stay competitive
Despite the precipitous dive in Internet stocks and the dot-com boom that boomeranged into a spectacular dot-gone bust, the industry’s march toward e-commerce, e-management and e-communication has continued unabated, according to a new technology survey released last month by the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA), Princeton, N.J.
Based on responses from 1,251 U.S. contractors, CFMA’s fourth annual computerization study found that 94% of general contractors now use computers in their offices. Also, 72% say their project managers are on computers at the job site. Heavy/highway contractors and specialty subcontractors report similar numbers. In all, some 505 general contractors participated in the 2002 survey, plus 373 subs and 299 heavy/highway firms.
Across the board, 38% of the respondents said they now have their own information technology (IT) departments. Some 43% of GCs reported having IT groups of 7.5 employees, on average. Not surprisingly, the firms with the largest IT staffs are those with annual revenues exceeding $250 million. Of note, small contractors with revenues under $5 million per year ironically employ 3.5 IT staffers on average, nearly 1.5 more than firms with revenues between $5 million and $100 million.
Brand loyalty, standardization
For the second year in a row, CFMA reports that the most widely used brand among its members is Dell, with a dominant 63% market share. Next in line is Compaq with 37%, Gateway at 25% and Hewlett Packard with 22%. Similarly, 53% of respondents said they had standardized their hardware purchasing to use one brand of products.
Among drafting software for computer-aided design, Autodesk’s AutoCAD dominated the field with an average market penetration of 60%. No one competitor could amass more than 4%. Even so, Bentley Systems’ MicroStation software did capture a respectable 13% of firms with revenues over $250 million. AutoCAD claimed 74% in the same category.
In estimating software, Microsoft’s Excel, followed by Timberline’s Precision Collection, combined to account for 59% of the products used by GCs and 40% used by subs. Similarly, project management tools saw three Primavera products combine to capture 30% of the GCs field. Meridian Project Systems’ Prolog Manager, however, logged 17%, making it the favored product of the largest firms.
Finally, Constructware won the hotly contested races for most popular project collaboration tools among both GCs and subs. For full results of CFMA’s 2002 survey, visit www.cfma.org.