What Is Construction Planning Software?
June 15, 2021
Effective planning is the foundation of every successful construction project. As project requirements become more complex and buildings become more technologically sophisticated, the planning process itself must adapt, requiring more than conventional, traditional methods can often handle.
That’s what makes construction planning software a must-have for your tech toolbox, performing the bulk of the backend work essential for a successful build. This includes; coordinating all the labor, equipment, materials and space resources; carefully mapping out the schedules for all the individual project tasks, big and small; identifying possible risks that could impact timelines and recommending ways to reduce their impact. There are also extra capabilities that go beyond the common planning activities, making this type of software increasingly popular among contractors and owners alike. Here’s why.
Unlike industry-neutral software, construction planning software accounts for construction-specific variables
Consider the hundreds of subcontractors whose workflows must be scheduled throughout various phases of a project. The equipment that has to be assigned and tracked on site once construction begins. The projects that consist of multiple job sites, each with their unique scope and requirements to plan for and manage. Planning for these kinds of projects — capital, infrastructure and similar substantial builds in particular — right down to the last detail is made much more efficient with construction planning software.
What about the inevitable changes that arise? Or the impact of potential scenarios on your project, such as a materials supply shortage or a severe weather event? The software enables you to perform risk analyses to determine the possible outcomes so you can create contingency plans for them. It adds a degree of predictability to your planning efforts and gives you confidence that you’ve realistically accounted for all that can happen in a construction project.
All documentation is centralized into one hub as a single source of truth
Construction projects are a flurry of activity from the start, generating mountains of paperwork before ground has even been broken. There are blueprints, RFIs, contract requirements, approvals, updates, change orders, job site photographs, emails, punch lists and so much more that has to “live” somewhere. Physical filing cabinets and computer-based software programs each present an inherent challenge of limited space to house everything. Then there’s the dilemma of which cabinet or computer a particular file is hiding in. Construction planning software overcomes these challenges by assembling them in one digital filing cabinet — even the several gigabyte files your builds may tend to produce. Cloud-based versions allow project team members in the field and in remote offices to access them when needed.
Specific task information can be distributed to site crews when they need it
Subcontractors and craftspeople depend on having the right information when they need it in order to maintain their own individual productivity and meet overall job progress milestones. And yet, a known challenge in the industry is lack of timely communication. The consequences are undeniable: future change orders, a longer punch list and potential rework that can put the completion date at risk of being delayed. Industry-specific planning software makes it possible to alert site crews to time-sensitive change orders, blueprint updates or newly discovered job hazards, for example. How? Through push notifications of these job and safety details. This is also where the single source of truth is important; site crews can more confidently and proactively do their jobs when they know the information they’re looking for is accurate, up to date and in one accessible place.
Cloud-based versions enable remote access to all documents and data
Cloud technology certainly adds layers of benefits to the already-multifaceted capabilities of construction planning software. When all planning documentation is stored in the cloud, project team members near and far can access everything from their own laptop, or from a tablet or smartphone via a mobile app — any device with an internet connection. This unfettered access to project information is a game-changer for better informed, timelier decision-making. With so much riding on adherence to established schedules, just being able to collaborate in real time and view the same up-to-date information can make a difference in keeping projects on track.
With this much access, integrity of the files might cause concern. There’s actually a higher level of security and safety when moving everything to the cloud. Not only is the risk of theft, loss or damage to physical files eliminated, but enhanced security measures like authentication and password-protection help guard against compromising of cloud-based files.
What about making changes to those documents? The planning stage is constantly in flux, with emerging details being added and edits being made to documents in preparation for construction to begin. Cloud-based planning software allows you, with the appropriate assigned permissions if desired, to make revisions and edits so they’re reflected instantaneously.
Construction planning software enhances competitiveness
Larger projects require a higher level of precision and control. Owners are expecting the same. Today’s construction planning software rises to this challenge. Ever the efficient multi-tasker, it assumes the capabilities of several point solutions at once, and outperforms and outlasts legacy systems. Collectively, the capabilities this software boasts can dramatically amp up your productivity factor. And that can positively impact your business competitiveness.
Not all planning software solutions are alike. But if you’re primarily bidding on projects that fall into the capital, infrastructure or large commercial categories, a comprehensive solution like InEight’s planning, scheduling and risk software will help you manage concurrent projects, down to the finest detail. Request an InEight demo to see how it can help you streamline the many overlapping activities from start to finish.