Likelihood to Recommend
[It is] well suited to large scale complex construction projects with many participants. Aconex requires patience and training and, although it's good, it could be better. Short duration, small projects probably aren't a good fit.
UDA Construction Suite
If you've never used software before and have low expectations, then you might be able to make it work out.
- File Sharing - unlimited storage, version control and access control on a neutral host - Aconex is significantly superior to ftp, SharePoint or a contractor hosted platform in that once onboarded, each user organization has equal privileges and can in turn onboard any number of members within the respective organizations.
- Process and Workflow Management - while imperfect, Aconex offers the opportunity to customize process control and enforcement. Our team used these processes for RFI preparation and response, submittal tracking and other custom requirements.
- Neutrality - while mentioned, the neutral host places all project participants on a equal basis. Typically, non-neutral platforms favor in-house participants to the detriment of the project. Until shared, files are 100% private to the respective organizations.
- Mobile interface - good (not perfect) access to unlimited project file information from a mobile device.
- Audit trail - no more "I didn't get that document". File sharing and file opening is tracked by user. Transmittals are a matter of record and there's no 'delete' function.
- The beautiful user interface. It looks good.
- Their videos are professional.
- They have webinars.
- Interface needs work; graphically inelegant, somewhat non-intuitive.
- Process controls could be better 'templated' for industry standards.
- Dashboard/to do for project managers - it's still too hard to see who is slowing the project down.
- Their spell checker creates a squiggly line to tell you that you have a misspelled word, but, doesn't allow you to correct it.
- The spell checker lets you add custom words to a dictionary, but, it can only use one dictionary at a time to check spelling. So the default dictionary gets used, and your custom words still show up as being spelled wrong!
- You can't select-copy addresses, in order to paste them somewhere else.
- Using duplexing on my printer doesn't work right. It works for every other software I own, but not in UDA.
- There is a bug in the WIP date range that doesn't pull accurate data.
- "Options" in the estimate show only cost, not margin. So if you show your customer that report, you are revealing cost info, not selling price!!
- You can't import a PDF into bid notes, even though the premise of UDA is to try to make it a single repository for all your information.
- You can't use the arrow key to browse photos in UDA. You need to close, and click into the next one. No inuitive functionality.
- The estimating module separates material and labor, in ways that create a very confusing Scope of Work. You need to select the labor item from your database, then separately select the material from your database. You end up with two line items in your Scope of Work for the same thing. Instead of writing, "Supply and Install a new window" you have "Supply a new window" and then "Install a new window." It's hard for my estimator, and confusing for my client.
- UDA will WREAK HAVOC on your contacts in Outlook.
- It does a terrible job of managing husband/wife or partner/partner situations. You can't mail merge them properly, or, you get forced into combining their contact into into a single contact-- and then how do you know whether the cell phone is his or hers???
- There is no good way to credit design fees against the construction contract, if you happen to use that paradigm for your contracts.
- There is no way to filter contracts by their date created. So, how do you find your newest contacts for entering them into something such as Constant Contact?
- If you try to use integration of QuickBooks(QB) and UDA, your ITEMS list in QB will either get expanded to hundreds or even THOUSANDS of items... or, your POs in QB will get created in a summary form such that they are virtually meaningless.
- The "lead funnel" graphic may look cool, but there is not a good way to actually report on the lead status, track the activities and calls that you make, note significant emails that you write, or keep track of when you send out thank-you cards or spiffs/gifts!
- They might tell you that these things work, but, after spending MONTHS with UDA, I found out that these problems are deal breakers.
- Within their customer service department, the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing. They do not use a structure such as Zendesk that so many other great companies use. Even though I was paying for priority support, there were often days going by where I could not get a call or email back to assist me with a support request or provide a tutorial on how to do something. Had I not paid extra for support, this would be acceptable. But when paying for "TotalCare" priority support, there are times when the software had me stuck, and I was stuck for a day at a time waiting for an answer. Sometimes no answer ever arrived.
I am currently using file sharing such as Egnyte and ShareFile which are useful but don't have much of a transmittal or inmail functionality so I can't really speak to other products in the same league as Aconex. I don't typically like proprietary contractor solutions due to their non-neutrality and embedded agendas, which often are not consistent with the owner's interests.
QuickBooks has great quality assurance and while they don't provide support, their software is nearly flawless. Co-construct provides great support and solves problems. In comparison, UDA Construction Suite is full of flaws, and their customer service department is disorganized and overworked.
Return on Investment
- Reductions in print costs alone (subcontractor bid process) paid completely for the use of the product. Further benefits to all project participants included process streamlining and 100% access to all project documentation (Drawings, Specifications, Contracts, Notices of Change, Change Orders etc.) from any online source including mobile devices. Benefits probably accounted for 150% of product cost.
- Intangible benefits included reduced exposure to claims as a result of good (and agreed process tracking).
- All my money was wasted. I could not get a refund.
- All my time was wasted. I spent much time on customer support, and even more time "stuck" where customer support could not be reached.
- My staff time was wasted, because it was hard for them to implement and then we ultimately abandoned it.
Premium Consulting/Integration Services—
Entry-level set up fee?