Ready to Invest in Construction Project Technology?
Start with These Solutions
May 17, 2022
If you’ve just warmed up to the idea of investing in construction technology, you should be applauded for taking that step. After all, it’s not easy venturing into unknown territory where the investment seems large and the learning curve challenging.
Yet construction-specific software technology is moving further into the mainstream as more savvy construction companies realize the value it can bring. But you don’t have to digitize everything right away. Start small and keep the process manageable with the fundamentals. So, where do you begin?
First, let’s address why it makes sense for your construction tech investment to be industry-specific. There’s no number of workarounds, customizations or stitching together of separate modules that can make generic business software as effective and efficient as software tailored specifically to manage construction projects. Why is this? Construction-focused project technology has the specialized features and functionalities that contractors and project managers need to streamline managing layer upon layer of details for each specific project or job. And that can make an enormous difference when overseeing the vast number of variables typical to capital projects, including costs, schedules, risk analyses, change orders, approvals and documentation.
Perhaps one of the biggest reasons to switch to industry-focused technology: data. Data is the present and future of construction. In order to compete for projects and have more control over their planning and execution, construction companies just like yours will have to rely on real-time data for in-depth reporting, performance and progress tracking, and adherence to client requirements.
Now for the recommendations. Here are three types of focused solutions to look into as you consider your construction technology investment. These are among the fundamental ones that may have the most impact on your business success and project outcomes:
Estimating and project cost management
This would be a good starting point as you begin investing in construction technology. Why? Business success — and survival — depend on winning profitable work. And winning that work depends on submitting thorough bids with the level of precision capital project clients are now looking for. Estimating and project cost software improves your odds while helping you sidestep familiar pain points.
Right out of the gate, the software introduces consistency and efficiency[green] to an often tedious, lengthy process. For one, embedded templates for bid packages and reports guide you in assembling bids in a fraction of the time without leaving out any critical detail. What’s more, you can leverage real-world information from your similar past projects (that you can upload and store in the software) as source data for your bid. No comparable project to call back up? Pull in industry benchmarks instead and adjust for the local market as needed. You’ll not only avoid having to create each bid from scratch, you’ll wind up with more realistic budgeting and scheduling that you can update as scope evolves.
Ultimately, this feeds into your estimate, which becomes the foundation on which project decisions and contingency plans are based. And if committing to a final estimate has ever caused any anxiety over leaving money on the table, know that [green]the higher the accuracy, the higher profit potential for you.
Scheduling and planning
Scheduling, at its core, is basically deadline management — ensuring each site crew and individual worker completes their tasks according to a timeline, and that all resources are where they should be when they’re needed. This is not as easy as it may appear, as evidenced by high delay statistics across the industry.
Some of this can be reined in by implementing scheduling and planning software to gain more fine-tuned control over coordinating and managing all labor, material and equipment resources. It helps you plan out and monitor the workflow of every variable — not just those resources, but job activities like scheduling inspections, acquiring permits and procuring specific inventory. All the historical data you probably have from prior projects? You can make that work for you in assembling timelines that are not only realistic but proven — even the more complicated ones involving plenty of simultaneous construction phases and carefully sequenced dependent job activities.
Far from being merely a calendar, there’s another capability scheduling software has that you’d be hard-pressed to find in industry-agnostic software: creating risk-adjusted schedules. Software with forecasting functionality enables you to assess the projected impact of a risk factor. Start with ones that actually surfaced in prior builds that could recur, like unforeseen material delivery delays or severe weather, so contingency plans can be developed and ready to launch if such a “what-if” scenario plays out.
Last but certainly not least is document management. Investing in this construction project technology is crucial to managing the proliferation of documentation that capital projects produce over the course of their build. For too long, those documents (and their stakeholders) have been siloed, not just in different physical and even virtual locations, but within teams.
Document management software comes to the rescue, centralizing everything from contracts to drawings to inspection reports to correspondence in one easily and equally accessible cloud-based repository. To be truly impactful though, that access has to extend to the jobsite so everyone from the managers at the job trailer to the individual workers out in the field. When adopting this software, take advantage of its companion mobile app. With so many quick decisions and need for clarification occurring where the actual construction is being done, this is a must to maintain progress without losing precious time hunting for what’s needed.
This software’s versatility doesn’t end there. If you’ve used generic software, it’s pretty much a given that you can access standard file types most often used by the back office. But what about viewing and editing certain file types unique to construction? That brings us back to field access. If there are challenges opening these files, it not only inhibits collaboration that’s dependent upon them, but it can unnecessarily slow down productivity.
Making your construction project technology investment work for you
As mentioned earlier, within each of these essential construction project technology solutions, you’ll find options that offer different features and functionalities that may be a good fit for your particular business and/or the types of projects you tend to take on. While you’re assessing these options, we invite you to explore InEight construction project management and get a feel for how each business process within our platform can work for you by scheduling a demo.