Finding the right construction management software solution may entail a hybrid approach.
- It's likely that your construction firm will not use one software application but several. To maximize resource efficiency in construction, you must implement various operation and communication mechanisms.
- Construction management software can automate administrative tasks, facilitate planning and scheduling, and help you manage workload assignments.
- While construction management software is essential, the actual project still has to be executed by a professional.
Like so many industries, construction is rapidly maturing. Companies are increasingly relying on data, analysis and collaboration tools to remain competitive and streamline processes. Falling under this umbrella, construction firms count on software for tasks such as submitting proposals, evaluating costs, tracking workers' locations and meeting tight deadlines.
"When you evaluate construction management software, several considerations come to mind: cost and budget tracking, document sharing, collaboration, and project management and administration," said Christian Burger, principal and owner of Burger Consulting Group, and a construction industry veteran who consults nationally and internationally with commercial, civil and specialty contractors to develop objective IT solutions. "Not all construction management applications perform all functions equally well. Right now, there are several players in the market, all working toward the same objective (or at least close), but they are coming at it from different angles."
So, when you're on the hunt for the "best" construction management software, the first rule to keep in mind is that you're likely not looking for just one solution. You're more likely to take a hybrid approach, tailoring the solution to meet your needs to the best of your ability.
Starting with your core needs
When evaluating vendors, first identify your core needs. Where are you experiencing your biggest barriers, and what is slowing you down? Many firms first seek to streamline one of these core functions.
Meticulous project management is critical. The right PM software will give you the insights you need to meet all your project administration needs, such as scheduling, submittals, RFIs and changing costs.
Enterprise resource planning
ERP software digitizes your accounting, payroll and financial management needs. The goal is to eliminate or reduce paper use and gain a more holistic view of your finances. ERP is a critical function across all construction software, since cost and budgeting are the backbone of working with subcontractors.
"Most contractors today have some form of construction-specific ERP solution for accounting," Burger said. "These frequently come with an integrated PM solution, which may or may not be as functional or advanced as some of the best-in-class point solutions, thereby setting up the contractor to make a decision between having an integrated solution versus one that is more functional."
Collaboration tools give firms the ability to share information in multiple ways, virtually discuss projects and documents, and gain greater control over who can access the information.
But the idea of "collaborating" has many meanings – and can only take you so far. For example, "file-sharing platforms like Box and Dropbox make it easy to share but don't necessarily provide the original function (e.g., RFIs or submittals)," Burger pointed out. "I can't see the information unless I open the file, which is by then a static file."
Team and safety
This is a catch-all category for the important administrative details of a project. The details that fold into inspections, field workers' timecards, the daily report and observations are just some of the data points that lack meaning until you can look at them together.
On the horizon: Trends in construction software
There are several areas for growth or improvement in the construction management space. The first, mobile, points to a growing demand for collecting data and work anywhere.
"Mobile technology is a fast-growing trend," Burger said. "Workers may be onsite and need to use a device, without any attachment, for RFIs, punch lists, etc. We're going to see an increased need for that capability."
Burger also noted the challenge of data ownership – something all industries and collaborators should be concerned about. "Contractors may use collaboration software to submit RFIs. When multiple parties are submitting information into the same system, then you get to a question of who owns the data. We're going to see issues regarding the sovereignty of data and records – whose data is it, and when can they get it back?"
Benefits of construction management software
Here are some of the main benefits of using construction management software, according to Jonas Construction.
1. It makes it easier to access and share information.
All documents related to a particular project are stored in one place, making them easily accessible. Crucial paperwork is unlikely get lost. You can see when documents were created and modified from the audit logs. An integrated construction software management system allows managers to keep track of paperwork and other essential issues, such as amount of construction materials spent and how much of each material is required.
2. It makes management easier.
This software allows managers to adopt a systematic approach to issues. The software is typically easy to understand, enabling you and your staff managers to ensure each project goes according to plan. Construction software allows managers to create transmittals, professional RFIs, business letters and change requests. You can track the project budget through the integrated construction accounting software.
3. It helps you manage paperwork.
Construction companies handle lots of paperwork and documentation. Safe storage of these documents could be expensive for your company, while taking up office space and requiring a lot of time to organize. Construction software allows efficient storage of documents without occupying any space. It is equally easy to retrieve documents.
4. It aids in efficient service delivery.
With all the above functions, construction management software helps managers to complete their projects within the allocated time and budget.
Features of construction management software
Customer relationship management
The CRM feature allows you to capture crucial information about your clients, such as their contact information. You can also automate schedules and send reminders to your clients. This feature allows you to search the history of your clients and your progress on projects.
Accounting and financials
This feature includes budgeting, payroll, invoicing, billing and cash flow management options. These options enable you to make informed decisions and financial forecasts. This feature also allows electronic payments and tracks payments.
You can organize your workday efficiently and keep track of your team's activities. This feature helps you assign and prioritize tasks and track the progress of each.
This feature allows easy storage and retrieval of documents. You can get a bird's-eye view of the documents or zoom in for details.