Some industries struggle more than others when it comes to technology. While the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry stays at the bleeding edge of innovation, the construction sector still relies on spreadsheets, cell phones, and uncannily adaptive jobsite supers to keep projects on schedule and in the black.
According to an industry digitization index created by McKinsey & Company, Construction is the least digitized industry (after agriculture and hunting). This is particularly notable in residential construction.
“Housing is certainly one of the most fragmented of all industries,” says Sam Rashkin, former Department of Energy Architect and housing educator. “Where five to 10 large companies will account for the predominant share of revenue for most industries, there are nearly 50,000 single-family and multifamily builders in the United States.”
This highly fragmented group operates regionally, which means they must ride herd on a vast network of suppliers, vendors, and subs while scouring their markets for scarce developable land.
“Many building companies don’t have the resources and competency for technology innovation,” Rashkin points out. “In fact, residential construction has the lowest research and development investment as a percent of sales among representative major industries surveyed by the National Science Foundation.”
With the stubborn national labor shortage, rising material costs, and supply chain disruptions dogging them, many construction professionals realize technology is their best bet to stay competitive.
Fortunately, software solutions abound for single operators all the way up to mega-commercial building enterprises. In this post, we will cover how construction companies can address industry challenges by migrating their manual systems into a robust construction project management solution.
What Is Construction Project Management?
Construction project management is the process of leading the work of a team that coordinates materials, people, and equipment for the purpose of completing a construction project. Successful project management addresses project scope, cost, schedule, regulations, quality, and safety.
Here are some of the typical responsibilities involved in construction project management:
- Define the scope of work for a project.
- Create and manage project plans and schedules
- Manage requests for proposal and bids for people, products, and services.
- Set up and enforce contractor agreements.
- Organize meetings to benchmark project progress and troubleshoot problems.
- Set and monitor budgets.
- Manage invoices and payments.
- Ensure compliance with regulations.
- Provide detailed data and reporting.
What Is Construction Project Management Software?
Construction project management software digitally connects data, equipment, and people—any time, any place, on any device. It allows professionals to centralize and simplify job processes and tasks, securely share information, and track all aspects of a project in real time.
Using this type of software keeps projects on budget and on schedule and allows companies to produce accurate reports to further refine business practices and increase efficiencies. It also offers companies a treasure trove of data that can be used to discover new business opportunities.
Let’s look at five aspects a construction management software should be able to accommodate:
- Document Management - Construction projects are labor intensive on site and also in the back office. The large volume of documents each project requires needs to be stored in an organized way and shared with partners in the chain at the touch of a button. A good software synthesizes all the bills, bids, plan markups, contract documents, punch lists, change orders, submittals, inventory, and plans produced during construction. Companies can use their own document formats or take advantage of software templates.
- People Management - Project management software with mobile apps allows all offices and sites related to a construction job to communicate. Not only does it foster communication, but it also allows members to share documents with jobsites, which helps with troubleshooting. Workers can be moved from one jobsite to the next depending on needs, which fosters productivity and accurate schedules.
- Equipment and Materials Management - Where’s the truss crane? We’re missing half the flooring. Do we have the concrete forms onsite? … There is never a dull day in construction, which makes knowing where everything is at all times vital.
- Team Collaboration - whether its submittals from a product manufacturer to the architect, or a request for additional information from a site super to the engineer, quality software will facilitate these conversations efficiently and securely. Software also helps the contractor keep an owner updated on the project, from schedule changes to cost overruns and on down to the smallest job site hiccup.
- Reporting - A good software solution provides reporting features, such as summary reports and graphics that summarize the project in terms of costs, schedule, and other customizable metrics. Companies can use this vital information to improve processes and create more accurate job bids in the future.
How Do You Get the Best Construction Project Management Software?
Let’s face it, most construction companies have their own unique systems, habits, and processes, so what works for one company may not necessarily work for another. So when it comes to selecting the best construction management software, consider the most important features you need and that will work best for your team.
Taking into account the breakneck pace of today’s business world, your management solution should, at a minimum, be a simple tool that:
- Keeps your team connected and offers a single source of truth for your organization’s data.
- Is flexible.
- Offers seamless collaboration.
- Honors tight budgets and schedules.
The low-code solution offered by Quickbase offers all these features and much more.
Low-Code Construction Project Management Versus Point Solutions
If you’re new to the concept, low-code is a visual development solution that allows non-technical business users to assist in process improvement and application development of their construction management processes.
Point or SaaS (software as a solution) tools are typically bought to solve one specific problem in a company. Unfortunately, they make it hard to streamline and automate your existing processes, require regular updates to keep pace with changing business requirements, and are hard to customize.
A low-code cloud based software platform allows you to quickly deliver employee-inspired solutions that match familiar processes, which will spur faster adoption. Low-code offers:
- Easy-to-build problem-solving apps. (Anyone with basic spreadsheet skills can do this.)
- Point-and-click actions and visual cues to customize.
- Faster process automation and innovation to help companies keep up with tech disruption.
There are additional benefits to consider as well:
You Build, We Build, They Build
The ultimate in flexibility, Quickbase has a three-pronged offering, which has an option for every scenario.
- You can use the simple low-code format to put together your own management solution.
- You can work collaboratively with the Quickbase experts to curate a solution from a vast array of management tools.
- You can use your own vendor to build it.
If the solution you are considering doesn’t offer all these options you may not get a system that works seamlessly.
Easy to Interpret
Do the project management tools you are considering have a clear, practical interface? This may seem like a small thing, but not when you consider that it will be used hundreds, if not thousands, of times a day by ultra-busy building professionals! Quickbase offers an attractive at-a-glance dashboard with automated alerts for real-time control of your company.
Cloud-based software means a contractor doesn’t have to worry about updates and instant syncing—they happen automatically and seamlessly in the background and are available instantly for all members of the team and all jobsites. Make sure the solution you are looking at doesn’t require you to push updates or otherwise tinker with technology. The right system should handle all this for you.
Want to make sure your contractors and equipment are at the right place, at the right time—and also in compliance? Quickbase allows you to track and record EHS incidents from a phone or tablet, which keeps your team and your company safe.
Who Should Manage Construction Project Management Software?
Construction project management tools may be set up by one person or team. However, once it is set up, it will be most successful if it is used by all entities involved in a build. Typically, a project manager working for the general contractor will set up the project parameters into management software and track it. In the case of a smaller builder, it may be one project manager, or for a large commercial build, it could be an entire team.
Is Construction Project Management Software Good for All Builders?
Yes. Construction project management software is a vital tool that supports builders of any size and helps them manage builds through the entire project lifecycle. From small builders to big, the ability to accurately keep and share data throughout the building channel will keep construction jobs on time and profitable.
Home builders, for example, will like Quickbase because it is more cost-effective than a custom database while offering the same features, such as the ability to share project and resource data across all departments, automate processes, and manage their project information, inventory, and workflow.
Large construction firms, as another example, can go broad and deep with Quickbase. One large commercial builder who is juggling multiple projects at a time, worked with Quickbase to build a customized app that supports all parts of the firm’s Office & Field business, from bidding to closeout.
The Future of Construction Project Management
While the building industry is already dealing with a dizzying amount of information and challenges, more is on the way. Having the right project management tool in place is necessary to seamlessly adopt to future innovations and requirements. Here are a few:
Building Information Modeling (BIM)
BIM is a process that starts with the creation of an intelligent computer-generated 3D model and enables document management, coordination, and simulation during the lifecycle of a project. Using it, construction pros can plan, design, build, operate, and maintain a building.
Ideally, once a building is designed, software can generate design documentation for construction, including the takeoff. Once the takeoff is created, it can be bid, and the products and materials ordered and scheduled. Any company embracing BIM needs that information to be integrated into a sophisticated project management system.
High-performance drones are already changing worksites across the nation. While many firms use them for site and building design, they are also being harnessed for marketing photography, safety inspections, and security. The information from these important mobile tools should be managed and stored securely.
ESG (Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance) Reporting
While builders are highly aware of building codes and regulatory/safety reporting, ESG reporting is on its way to becoming a new norm. It requires reporting to help investors avoid companies that have a greater financial risk because of environmental performance or other governmental or social practices. Product management software can help companies comply.
Supplier diversity is simply an organizational practice whereby companies try to source goods and services from diverse suppliers. These are typically businesses that are at least 51% owned and operated by members of underrepresented groups. Examples include LGBTQ-owned or minority-owned.
According to research from Gartner, 75% of organizations have some form of responsible sourcing program. Quickbase supports ESG reporting and can help you set up systems to vet suppliers and ensure compliance.
Smart Wearables and Gadgets
If construction firms adopt smart wearables (like sensor-monitored jackets, hats, and gadgets) to achieve more efficiencies on the jobsite, they will need to store, access, and integrate the data from them, including worker productivity and performance, safety issues, causes of downtime, equipment availability, and workflow.
At the end of the day, construction management software is about making your business smart without changing your company culture or processes. The solution should be flexible, customizable, and apply across your entire company.
Low-code solutions like Quickbase centralize your data and make it available instantly to anyone in the organization. Unlike point solutions that only serve a niche purpose, Quickbase provides a broad solution that is cost-effective and customizable.
Construction pros must have confidence that their current jobs will stay on track and manage project costs, but they also need to be freed from the chaos and inaccuracy of manual data entry and legacy systems to focus on that next building project—and make it the most profitable yet.
What does construction management software do?
This type of construction management tool digitizes all the information pertaining to project planning on a construction job. It enables users to access, track, and interact with project information in a central location, anytime, anywhere.
What should I look for in construction management software?
Because all construction companies are different, the most important feature you should look for in any construction project management tool is flexibility. Your selection should allow you to store all your data securely online, be highly customizable, and be easy to use by the entire project team. A low-code option versus an out-of-the-box solution is a safe bet for achieving these features.
How does construction software work?
Most construction management software organizes project management procedures. Team members can access this information via the internet from anywhere, using any smart device or computer. The software allows users to update important metrics such as timelines, project specifications, budgets, staffing, and safety protocols. Unlike manual tabulation of construction information, construction software is more accurate, increases productivity, and allows companies to access performance data to improve future builds.