Most professionals in the construction industry will agree that projects are becoming increasingly complex. Considering all of the changes in construction and engineering methods, rising labor and materials costs, and larger project teams, competent management is more essential than ever before.
Construction workers are faced with the constant challenge of hectic schedules and hazardous working conditions, but construction management software can empower employees to gain better control over their work – completing projects quickly and efficiently. It helps construction professionals standardize processes, gain insight into problems, improve communication, and increase the accuracy of time and cost estimates. Better management and automation allows contractors to reduce resource and time requirements, meet deadlines, and archive project records for future reference.
When financial and operational information is combined into a single database, there is greater visibility across the entire organization. This makes it easier to determine the profitability of each project, improve efficiency through elimination of multiple entries, and increase accuracy in bids and pricing. If a business lacks integrated construction software, duplicate data entry, tracking issues, and forecasting errors are much more common. Unintended waste accounts for a substantial percentage of construction costs, but construction management software allows you to analyze every resource – from materials to manpower – for the most efficient allocation (and reallocation) possible.
If you’re still relying on pen and paper to manage your projects, you’ll be amazed by how much valuable time the right software can save you. It can spare you from hours of crunching numbers, digging through invoices, and creating estimates. Even if your company already uses construction management software, it’s worth your time to analyze whether or not your current system is meeting your needs. If your software is no longer supported, if you’ve ever wished you could access reports more quickly, or if your software can’t manage your RFIs, it’s probably time to consider an upgrade. The thought of abandoning your current system can be a tough pill to swallow, but if it isn’t meeting your needs, it’s time to make the switch.
Choose Your Construction Project Management Software Carefully
It’s critical that you choose the right construction management software for your business, since your employees will depend on it daily. The right software solution allows better control over your entire process, including bidding, accounting, and estimating – saving you time and allowing you to create more accurate reports on your projects. It provides access to data in real time, rather than waiting for spreadsheets to be emailed, entered, and analyzed.
The type of work you do and the volume of data you need to manage will directly impact your software choice. You’ll need to ensure that the software you’re considering is a good fit for the projects you typically handle, and that it can accommodate your entire team – in the field and office. The time to determine that the software you’re considering isn’t a good fit for your business is before you start writing checks, not after you’ve spent a year trying to make something work that was never intended for your type of business to begin with. As with many situations of waiting for features to be built (and may not work) to extend the life of your existing system.
Nevertheless, don’t get lost in the features and functionality of the software: Instead, start with a list of problems that need fixing and look for software that can solve those problems. The very best construction management software can’t contribute to your efficiency or productivity if employees never use it. With that in mind, here are some tips for smart software selection:
- Start with your needs. Are all of your projects internal, or do you also work with external vendors and clients? Do you need to assign tasks to specific workers? Will your projects involve budgets and invoices? Start by addressing what you’re trying to achieve: estimating, document and project management, collaboration, accounting, etc. You’ll need to identify the software solution that’s best for your company’s unique activities and processes.
- Choose software that’s easy to use. For any construction software to be useful, it has to be used. When looking at your software options, develop a core team within your firm that’s representative of your users. Include people from finance, project management, and procurement that may be using the software. Your team can help you better determine your needs, and offer useful advice. Look for project management software that’s intuitive and a good match for your workflow.
- Find a scalable solution. Implementing a construction management software solution throughout your company is a long-term project in itself, so choose a solution that grows with you – offering features you might not even consider using initially. Factor in your company’s growth in order to determine savings projections, and ensure that the software will still meet your needs a few years from now.
- Solicit user opinions. It’s critical that you find software that is a good overall fit for your organization, and the best way to do that is to include your entire team in the selection process. Solicit feedback from each department, as they may have goals they wish to pursue that are different from your own. Asking employees for their opinions also helps implementation, since involving them in decision-making and considering their needs makes them feel invested in the process. Your entire organization should understand the objectives behind the adoption of a construction management software solution.
- Set goals. Ask yourself what you’re looking to get out of using construction management software. What do you need it to do? Create status reports? Enhance collaboration? Forecast?
- Provide training. It’s important to recognize that by changing the technology you depend upon everyday, you’ll inevitably disrupt your company’s workflow. A modern technology platform should be capable of adapting to the way you do business, but new implementations require some time to retrain your staff. Offer multiple training sessions, and set up a project so employees can practice creating posts, attaching files, and working with the system. Offer follow-up training to reinforce what they’ve learned, and address any questions they might have.
- Track projects. You should have at least one responsible team member tracking projects in real time. You don’t want to wait for weekly meetings to discover that a project isn’t going well. A project manager should communicate frequently with the project team, and ensure that everyone is using the software. Track expenses in real time, and receive up-to-the-minute cost analysis. Knowing exactly where you stand helps you keep track of your money, fix overages, and stay on task.
- Office to Field Connection – Communication between project managers and field workers is crucial to construction management. The right software will will ensure all departments and workers are in sync in real time.
- Real Time Updates – When a small task is completed, concrete is poured, or perhaps weather is prohibiting progress; project managers and field workers need real time communication to maximize work efficiencies and minimize mistakes.
- Cloud Deployment – What good is a construction project management software if it can’t host documents, files, and design layouts? Make sure your software allows field workers to access files and documents in real time and as they are updated by project managers. There are many moving parts of a successful construction job and as things change, all staff should be able to access any updates to the project.
The best construction firms emphasize teamwork, and construction management software enhances the team dynamic. It encourages collaboration and cultivates a communicative environment, in which team members vocalize their thoughts and opinions freely. Every decision is accountable, due to the thorough audit trail documentation. Accountability with respect to project records and finances ensures that each employee takes responsibility for the changes he makes.
When Your Field Workers Are 100% Synced With Your Project Manager, Things Runs Smoothly
Construction is an industry that relies heavily upon organization – a defining quality that separates profitable firms from those that fail. Since numerous companies and contractors must work together to complete a single job, organization can be a chore, and construction management software is the solution. All of your important documents are safely stored in an electronic format, eliminating the risk of having critical information lost due to an accident, error, or negligence. Proper electronic standards and regular backups keep your important data safe.
Document management is an important component of construction management software – helping you locate documents and forms quickly, and reducing the amount of time devoted to completing paperwork. Having everything digitized and prefilled frees up time for other projects. Just plug the document you’re looking for into the software’s search engine to locate your file instantly. Filing costs are reduced, and you don’t need to spend as much on toner, paper, and photocopying.
Numerous documents must be shared over the lifespan of a construction project. During the early stages, RFIs will be exchanged, submittals will be proposed, and every party needs access to the most up-to-date information. Good software makes it easy to store and transmit every document electronically. This improves communication between parties, and allows for more detailed oversight of information relevant to a project. Purchase and change orders become much easier to track. There’s now more project information to process than ever before, with numerous documents, drawings, and RFIs – and collaboration between contractors, builders, and owners is crucial.
Efficiency and Accountability In 1 Solution
The right software allows your team to instantly access crucial data about the project and the progress that’s been made. It improves project efficiency and accountability, by providing a centralized repository for documentation and communications. You’ll have constant access to current construction drawings at all times, making it easier to determine where action needs to be taken. Construction management software provides immediate visibility into your finances without the time-consuming and error-prone task of manual data entry. It also enhances communication to establish transparency in construction projects. Software makes it easier to maintain logs regarding what happens on the job site – allowing you to keep track of materials and tools, for more accurate purchase orders and reduced waste.
When purchasing new construction management software, you should expect a positive return on your investment (ROI). Measuring the ROI of your construction software can be complicated, but you can simplify this process by establishing some benchmarks. Decide on the return that you expect to achieve, and the timeframe you consider reasonable. Are you looking for a productivity boost, or easier team collaboration? Maybe you’re wanting to improve profitability through better decision making? Whatever your goal, set some objective benchmarks that you can measure.
Potential Savings Can Range to Hundreds of Thousands Dollars
To determine if a piece of software is right for you, you’ll need to consider potential cost savings. Construction management software reduces the amount of time required to determine the costs associated with a project, allowing you to win more bids, and create a more efficient process for your team. Furthermore, accurately planning for construction costs can mean the difference between making a fair profit versus barely squeaking by. Of course, not all savings can be readily quantified. You may have difficulty determining how big your company is going to grow, and you may not realize all of the benefits a piece of software offers before you begin using it. But, estimating savings as accurately as possible will help you determine the value of construction management software to your company.
While some elements of your business are pretty easy to measure, other factors are more difficult to determine – such as your need to attract and retain the best employees. It’s important to consider the numbers, but you can’t forget the part that’s intangible. Aging technology and complicated systems can have a negative impact on employee morale. You must understand how your current software impacts your team’s satisfaction and retention. An engaged, enthusiastic workforce has a powerful impact on your bottom line, and they need access to tools that allow them to efficiently manage projects and satisfy customers. People are a critical differentiator: Any company can purchase new technology, but they cannot assemble your mix of talent.
Establish some subjective benchmarks to track the impact of construction management software on your organization. Consider doing employee surveys before and after changing your software, to determine its affect on your workforce. Combining an investment in current technology with a culture where employees feel valued produces the best ROI. While you can boost profits temporarily by cutting expenses, you can’t cut your way to prosperity. Watch your expenses, but invest for the long term to maximize payoff from intangibles, and realize true ROI.
Finally an Easy Way to Invoice, Collect Payment, Compensate Staff, and Manage Accounting
Construction management software streamlines financial operations, speeds up payment processes, and improves collaboration between workers, managers, and clients. It facilitates management of every aspect of the project. The right software enables you to determine at a glance how the job is progressing – helping to ensure that it’s delivered on time and on budget.
Construction management software increases efficiency – providing a central location for all of your project information to be instantly stored, accessed, and easily updated. By defining your needs, engaging your users, and evaluating vendors, you can find the best software for your needs, boost the productivity of your entire staff, and increase your ROI.