Finding a construction project management software solution is not a straightforward process. Uncovering your true needs, identifying the problems you can expect to solve, and how to select the right vendor can be tricky.
A construction project management tool helps users manage new location construction, site openings, and capital improvement processes by streamlining workflows and communication to complete every detail on time and budget. From pre-construction to post-completion financial management, everyone involved in the construction process stands to benefit significantly from implementing the right project management tool.
For large or growing companies looking to assess their software needs, the following should help you decide whether a construction project management solution is for you.
Why is a Construction Project Management Solution Necessary?
As Companies Grow, Spreadsheets Just Cannot Cut It
Many organizations still use spreadsheets to track and manage projects. Spreadsheets are increasingly notorious for their inaccessibility and the ease with which users can lose track of tasks and timelines. For large or complex projects, manual spreadsheets can restrict efficient information sharing and make managing timelines more difficult.
Spreadsheets are also not purpose-built to manage construction projects. In fact, their frame of capability increasingly diminishes the larger a company grows. Once a company surpasses 150+ locations, using a spreadsheet is no longer a viable option.
By pivoting to a construction project management solution, organizations can more effectively manage enterprise construction projects at scale, without the fear of losing progress or information. A construction management system will allow users to:
- Control multiple projects with workflows, automatic notifications and customizable reports.
- Use mobile access, providing you with the data you need when you need it.
- Control costs and save time by automating budget creation, competitive bidding and change management.
- Increase cross-functional collaboration with shared workflows and notifications.
- Save time by automating workflows with repeatable schedule creation and templated resources.
- Create processes and templates that are repeatable and consistent.
Connecting Disparate Solutions
Disparate solutions present daunting challenges for users working within the construction workflow. Organizations often attempt to use incompatible software solutions or struggle to share information across teams to streamline more extensive processes. They may also find that they have redundant systems or solutions that perform the same functions but in critically different ways.
An effective construction project management software solution can pull together different aspects of the construction process in a single solution. By accessing the same system across project modules, teams can seamlessly share and use information from the same system, eliminating complicated file sharing. This puts teams on the same page when sharing metrics and terminology, reduces misunderstandings and wasted time, and simplifies executive reporting.
Lack of Bandwidth
Too often, organizations find themselves with needs that outpace their current solution capabilities, without the workforce to handle information sharing across disparate solutions or without enough project managers to work on multiple projects at a time.
A quality construction software system alleviates bandwidth issues by making every project task simpler to identify and complete. By providing a streamlined, easy-to-use solution, organizations and users can do more at once - and without nearly as much assistance – so that your current workforce goes farther.
For many organizations, the number one issue when it comes to selecting and implementing a new software solution is the issue of pricing. The appeal of using spreadsheets is the low costs – they are easy to use, easy to implement and do not cost an arm and a leg.
What happens, though, when the organization scales past the capability of a spreadsheet? The opportunity costs from using an ill-fitting system for tracking construction projects will ultimately cost you more in the long run than – with delays, an increasing lack of efficiency and ballooning costs playing a surmounting factor.
The right construction project management solution can alleviate those budget concerns, allowing organizations to control costs and save time by automating budget creation, general contractor (GC) bidding and change management.
Where Construction Project Management Software Can Help
A construction project management solution can help organizations at every stage of the construction process. Everyone from technician to owner contributes to the success of a construction project.
With the right solution in place, responsibilities can be shared, and project progress can be viewed at the click of a button.
With construction management software, organizations can build estimates and send an invitation for bid requests to your vendors in your database based on set qualifications.
With an effective tool, organizations can also adjust their system's UI to their liking, allowing them to configure the solution to look and act within their specific requirements.
A construction management solution can also work to help organizations struggling with scaling issues. Too often are companies purchasing software, only to outgrow the solution within a couple of years. Organizations need to be able to scale their solution as they grow, allowing them to prepare for any project's scope - before even starting.
2. Construction Management
A construction project management solution can track and manage the complete project lifecycle, including:
- Drag-and-drop plans and specifications.
- Issue addendums.
- The latest versions of drawings.
- Every stage of the submittal process.
- Metadata associated with the process.
- The flow of requests for information (RFIs), including receiving, reviewing, sharing and tracking any requests.
- An accurate and up-to-date project log.
Read more about the specific functionality construction project management systems can offer.
3. Field Management
With a construction project management solution, users working in resource and field management will find it much easier to create and consolidate:
- Progress reports
- Punch lists
- Expense lists
Organizations can access all third parties in a project's address book directly from the job site. Employees can also record expenses or log time straight from the application, contributing to an active employee time management process.
The use of a mobile app allows users to add in job site photos, observations, and vendor tracking and include real-time weather for reporting and comprehensive field management. All images can be captured from the field and attached to the daily report required for that day.
Weather is also pulled in based on the project's GPS location so you can see if the day's projections will change and progress on schedule.
4. Financial Management
A construction project management platform offers extensive budgeting, accounting and billing options that allow organizations to include progress against a schedule of values, cost plus, manage time and materials, and create generic commercial invoicing.
Manage your schedule of values and make any necessary updates so you can bill the customer accordingly, with features like cost-plus billing and invoice approvals.
Pitfalls to Avoid When Choosing a Solution
When selecting a construction project management solution, you will want to avoid any unnecessary pitfalls by asking yourself the following questions:
Does the Solution Have Global Capabilities?
For organizations looking to work globally, having a construction management solution localized to multiple regions and countries is critical to overall success. There are still many vendors that work primarily in the US, with an exclusively domestic-built system - it is vital to find solutions that work across the pond and beyond.
Does it Integrate with Other Solutions?
Exploring integration capabilities is essentially asking how comprehensive software can become. For most organizations looking to implement a construction project management solution, a closed system is a dead-end and untenable to future success. It is essential to find a solution that fits your needs and fits with the solutions you already have.
Does it Have Mobile Capabilities?
A best-in-class construction management software will be cloud-based to maintain data integrity and security, and have robust mobile capabilities to expand the impact and access of the solution.
In an ever-modernizing world, having a solution will mobile access is critical to current and future success with construction projects.
What is the User Network Like?
This is an underrated question when researching construction project management solutions, but knowing the size and strength of a solution's current user base tells you how plugged in the vendor is to the market.
For example, Accruent's Lucernex solutions have a significantly large user base, meaning our customers have leveraged the products to manage a variety of different situations and experiences. This experience helps highlight what works and what does not, facilitating broader spread testing of configurations and giving us an inside look at what exactly organizations need to manage this part of their business.
Having a strong user base also gives you likeminded, industry-leading peers to network with and learn from.
Will You Learn Best Practices?
For many organizations, the most challenging part of implementing a construction software solution is understanding how to get the most from the system. Once the purchase order is signed, many vendors step back and allow the purchaser to figure the rest out for themselves.
A successful implementation goes beyond the go-live. And it becomes exponentially more important to work with a knowledgeable vendor that can offer best practices based on real-world experience.
Accruent offers a series of best practice templates, enabling customers to learn from and implement what has worked for industry-leading companies.
Is the Vendor in a Strong Position?
Finally, it is important to understand how well a vendor is doing - financially or otherwise. This often tells you all you need to know regarding the quality of the solution. If an organization is struggling, what kind of feedback or assistance can you expect in the future? Will they be there for continued support in the long run?
So, Do You Need a Construction Project Management Solution?
With a dedicated construction project management tool, you can manage new location construction, site openings and capital improvement processes by streamlining your entire project management process. Save time by reducing unnecessary meetings, keeping clients and users up-to-date and informed on-site and construction data, and eliminating extraneous and unnecessary costs in the construction process.
Not sure where to start? Check out Accruent's Lx Projects, a best-in-class construction project management solution that ensures your business delivers projects on time and within budget.