Construction projects are complex with a lot of moving parts to keep track of. Examples include scoping, creating quotes, planning and assigning tasks and meetings, tracking expenses, creating purchase orders and invoices, making payments, and communicating with clients. All-in-one construction software helps construction managers juggle all aspects of these endeavors, resulting in time and money savings and happier clients.
But which professionals can benefit most from this type of software? Are there any disadvantages to these applications? What features should managers look for? And which is the best software for construction management? In the sections below, we answer these questions and more.
Top Construction Management Software Uses
Before going any further, let’s explore the specific uses of construction management software, also known as construction planning software. First, it’s important to note that construction management and project management both occur within construction projects but are two different things. Project management deals with back-office concerns such as hiring and interfacing with clients, while construction management focuses on everything directly related to the construction process.
Professionals who can benefit most from construction management software include architects, contractors, builders, building owners, and other stakeholders. Each role may be using different functions within the application. For example, contractors need to see what tasks have been assigned to them, while building owners want to ensure the project is meeting specified milestones. Uses include the following.
Consolidate tasks. Construction planning software brings together disparate functions such as scoping, assigning tasks, communicating, and billing. It can help keep track of multiple projects or projects that are in progress as well as potential ones.
Create budgets. One of the most important aspects of completing a construction project is staying on time and under budget. Construction management software enables users to see at a glance where these factors stand at any time.
Manage materials. Construction management happens most efficiently when the arrival of materials coincides with the need for them within the project timeline. The software should help users manage arrival dates and plan tasks accordingly.
Track progress. Today’s companies rely on client satisfaction, which requires timely and efficient completion of projects. No one can expect a construction project to go 100% as planned, but accurate tracking provides knowledge when anything goes off track, enabling smart decisions to correct the issues.
Provide accurate quotes. Construction planning software includes a component that provides real-time material costs, which supports more accurate quotes to clients.
Grow the business. The uses above all contribute to one more very important purpose: growing a construction business. Becoming more efficient, accurate, and cost-effective all help to eliminate waste and put construction business owners on the path to greater success.
Features to Look for in Construction Management Software
The best software for construction management is that which meets the needs of each unique construction company. Construction software companies ensure that the uses mentioned above are supported by the following important features.
Remote access. Construction management software should be cloud-enabled to ensure all parties can access the application from anywhere. For example, contractors should be able to see their assignments from the job site.
Collaboration and sharing. Construction projects aren’t always straightforward and it’s important to be able to share information in real time to sort out any challenges without resorting to outside systems such as email. Construction management software should include a component to help users update each other on progress and issues.
Document control. While much of the “paperwork” involved in construction projects is now electronic, managers still need a way to organize it. Construction management software should include a component that helps keep documents organized for quotes, invoices, purchase orders, and other key information.
Reports. In any kind of software, reporting is at the heart of questions needing to be answered. For example, a manager might want to know an updated completion date based on current progress. A contractor might want to know which tasks will require specific equipment.
Easy-to-use interface. None of the other features of construction management software will be useful unless users can easily find their way around the application. That’s why an easy-to-use and easy-to-learn interface is a critical feature for these programs.
Integration. The best construction software for general contractors and other construction professionals should pair well with technology already in place, including construction accounting software.
Disadvantages of Construction Management Software
While all these uses and features constitute advantages of construction management software, there are disadvantages as well. One disadvantage is the potentially unnecessary investment for very small construction firms who might not actually need it. In such cases, a construction management application may add complexity and decrease efficiency. Even in cases where the software is needed, company leaders should carefully determine whether the cost is sustainable for the business.
Another potential disadvantage is a software management program that doesn’t pair well with existing technology or is difficult to learn. These possibilities highlight the need to carefully shop for the best application and even test it out for a trial period if possible. Some applications may not have all the necessary components, creating the need for additional software.
Additionally, new software always adds new cybersecurity risks, and some construction firms may not be well equipped to manage them. The solution here is to collaborate closely with IT personnel or consultants to ensure any new applications are safe and protected against attacks.
Consider Future Needs
As we have seen, there are both advantages and disadvantages to construction planning software. But the overwhelming balance is in favor of this highly useful technology. Those companies that don’t think they need it should consider not just the current state of their operations, but the future. Small companies can grow quickly, and lack of preparation for that success can put firms at risk for chaos and decreased client satisfaction.
That’s why construction owners and managers should prepare in advance for that growth, and management software can be one tool to help them do it. Practicing the processes that the software supports can put these companies one step ahead. The following video includes technology planning as one aspect of future-proofing a business.