What Is the Importance of Construction Management Software?
October 29, 2020
As complex as construction projects are to oversee, it’s hard to believe that tracking hundreds of details using a traditional computer spreadsheet program was once considered advanced. It’s no wonder that trying to find individual documents in overstuffed file cabinets or someone’s jammed email inbox evolved into search-and-rescue missions.
But this is one of the biggest reasons why construction software has become a project manager’s best friend, helping solve these challenges, and then some. Managing people, processes and tasks in an organized system has brought much-needed functionality to construction management. And yet despite the promise of improved efficiencies in terms of time, cost and effort, the industry as a whole has tended to hesitate in fully embracing such technology.
Fortunately, this trend seems to be shifting. As the software has become more specialized and feature-rich, its use and popularity have grown. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to drive further interest in and adoption of such software, with its ability to help project managers assess and adjust budgets, schedules and resources in real-time while not in the office.
Let’s explore what construction management software allows you to do that makes it such an important tool to have for your projects.
Centralize Information Storage and Sharing
When you think of all the documents and data associated with a build — contracts, budgets, vendor information, drawings, change orders, schedules, warranties, inspections, permits, safety reports — it quickly becomes apparent just how much time and effort is needed to manually corral and track it all. It adds up to a lot of time, energy and money that could otherwise be devoted elsewhere.
Construction software vastly simplifies the document management process. All materials are gathered into a single source of truth, where all project-related information is organized, and everyone involved in the build is able to access and act on it in a timely manner.
To truly get the most benefit from this software, however, a web-based option is much more effective than an on-premise based implementation. That means everything takes place in the virtual “cloud” rather than on a physical computer. This includes items like file storage and organization, communication among teams plus uploading and forwarding of all project-related documents. So, anyone — site crews, office staff, contractors or owners — can access and share them from any device, from across the job site or across the country.
Another thing to consider is this. Have you ever experienced that sense of dread when a file you need has been misplaced, corrupted or accidentally deleted? That can happen when housing files on individual computers or servers. Cloud-hosted construction software bypasses these limitations.
Not only that, but centralizing everything also means you’ll have a running record of changes, decisions and approvals. That could come in quite handy when responding to an audit, regulatory compliance, insurance claim or threat of litigation.
The more smoothly information flows, the more smoothly your project can go.
Two of the biggest measures of efficiency in construction — maintaining project schedules and staying within budget — are the tasks most at risk of unraveling. Losing control of either or both can become a project manager’s worst logistics nightmare, jeopardizing the success of the project.
Planning and scheduling capabilities found in many of today’s construction software options prevent these headaches from happening in the first place by offering control over some of the most complex tasks. For example, you can make updates to timelines that are automatically reflected throughout the overall project calendar, as well as manage overlapping schedules and locations of labor and equipment resources of each build phase. Plus, you can answer the “what-would-happen-if” questions by testing the impact of risk variables on budgets, timelines and resource allocations and detect adverse patterns or inefficiencies so you can quickly course-correct as necessary.
Make Better Decisions with Better Data
This ability to course-correct is much smoother when you have the information at your fingertips to help guide you. Construction management software provides a wealth of actionable data — written, visual or interactive — you can’t get from traditional project management software or a spreadsheet.
It’s what makes this technology such a powerful tool for the countless decisions that have to be made each day. Just think of how much easier it is to communicate and work together when everyone is operating from the same data, accessible from the same source. Even decisions you might have made based solely on past experience can be improved by applying project-specific data to determine whether it would be a sensible or ill-advised course of action in the future.
With so much quantitative and qualitative data, you can operate from a place of being proactive instead of reactive. For example, you can determine early on what needs to be done to optimize workflow or make the most cost-effective equipment expenditures ahead of a project’s start. Likewise, you can respond confidently to an imminent or potential problem using risk analysis data, which can save precious time and keep issues from becoming more serious.
Construction Software as an Investment
Construction management software has graduated from once being a nice-to-have to a solid must-have project product. It is now considered an important investment in the success of current projects, as well as in the reputation and future success of construction companies as a whole.
As these construction software solutions proliferate and become more competitive, it begs the question: How do you know what’s best for your needs? First, look for scalability in size and scope of projects. Examine its ability to handle different kinds of construction projects. Also, consider how it integrates with complementary or companion solutions you already use or are currently evaluating.
To help you find your best path of construction, InEight has assembled a full suite of construction software solutions to help manage every facet of your projects. Use them individually or combine them for a more robust approach for better project outcomes and greater project certainty.