5 Keys to Purchasing
Construction Planning Software

You’re at the point where the sheer magnitude and detail of the construction projects you take on are becoming more difficult and time-consuming to plan and schedule so you’re thinking about purchasing construction planning software. There are likely multiple projects, overlapping phases, several job sites, and a growing number of subcontractors, craftspeople and equipment to line up. All of this increases the likelihood of risks you have to account for as well. 

Construction planning software is designed to handle all these moving parts of the pre-construction phase and beyond. There are plenty of options on the market, each with different combinations of features and capabilities. How do you know which is right for you? The following are five capabilities to look for when purchasing construction planning software.   

    1. Development of structurally sound schedules that reflect historical performance. You want to ensure that your schedule quality in both its structural soundness and its realism is based upon historical performance. To have a schedule you can rely on means you need both a quality plan and one that is reasonable, based upon your unique history. A plan that is structurally sound is reliable and can be trusted to reflect when a project will be completed. When historical performance is used to estimate new work, the degree of confidence in schedule durations and dates is dramatically improved. 
    2. Quantifying of risk to the project for time, dates and costs. The focus here is all about calculation of risk exposure on a project and the methods to communicate and mitigate that risk. Understanding risk exposure and its source means definitive action can be taken to combat its impact resulting in a more predictable plan or at minimum, timely adjustment or resetting of project performance expectations. With construction planning software that enables risk quantification, you stand to gain visibility into risk exposure and the time it may take to mitigate impacts, or to make the informed decision to accept specific risks. You also gain quantifiable certainty in performance from knowledge that a given date or cost has a 75%, 90% or 100% chance of being achieved, and the ability to take risks identified and mitigations applied on previous projects, and use them to reduce exposure on future endeavors.
    3. Aligning schedule objectives for superior execution plans.you need to ensure that the way you plan to execute the work in the field is consistent with how you assembled the broader schedule, and in alignment with key dates and milestones. When the schedule can be used as the basis for daily plans in the field, the execution team has a framework to plan against. Complex projects that have schedule and execution plans operating in concert drive greater stakeholder alignment, better visibility and faster response times to issues that surface in the field. When your construction planning software allows for the schedule to be used as the framework for 30-, 60- and 90-day lookahead execution plans, you can start from an objective-based view with complete clarity as to expectations. This means less downtime when the schedule is aligned with the execution plan/path of construction, greater visibility in the schedule and immediate awareness when misalignment occurs so that adjustments can be made in real time.
    4. Integrating with your existing systems and processes. Whether it’s Microsoft Excel® or a more advanced software solution, importing and exporting data with your chosen system should be a seamless process, without the need for anyone to have to re-enter data from one system to another. Find out if it works with the programs you want to keep; though keep in mind if you have a patchwork of point solutions from multiple manufacturers, you may run into incompatibility issues. You may encounter the same thing with legacy systems or outdated computer programs. Plus, holding onto those older systems can keep you from achieving the levels of efficiency today’s construction planning software has to offer.
    5.  Scaling over time. If you work on large-scale projects, or you’re planning to work up to those more complex builds over time, make sure to get planning software that will accommodate and scale with your company’s growth. Can it handle dozens or hundreds of overlapping schedules for a multi-year build? Is it able to track all the thousands of different kinds of resources you need — subcontractors, craftspeople, vendors, equipment — as you plan out a massive commercial structure? Don’t just look to the software itself when thinking of your company’s future growth; make sure the manufacturer is likely to be around to honor tech support plans and provide any software updates. The more your software is able to handle, the more competitive your company becomes when bidding on high-profile, substantial projects. 

Besides the five key points we’ve listed here, you’ll want to invite input from those who will actually be frequent users of the software. They will be able to shed light on other must-have features or capabilities that may be unique to the kinds of projects you work on, or to the regulations and requirements you have to account for with those projects. Have them test-drive different options so they can compare them against each other. It could be an eye-opening experience as they provide feedback and come to a group consensus on what works best. It can also help ensure buy-in from other members of their respective teams who will be using the software.

InEight’s construction planning software is one multifaceted option to look at. It brings together three key aspects required for successful construction project management: planning, scheduling and risk management. Find out how it can add value to your future project planning; request a demo today and invite your team of power users to experience how it can streamline their jobs.

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