Construction management software is a parent category, containing categories of solutions that help users effectively manage construction projects, resources, and customers. Construction management software increases the efficiency and accountability of construction firms and businesses while streamlining previously manual processes, such as daily internal communications, job scheduling, punch listing, and QA/QC list creation. Construction management software is designed to work with or without an internet connection, bridging the gap between the onsite construction crew, project owner, and other stakeholders in real time. Construction management solutions may be comprehensive solutions that offer a full slate of functionality across all subcategories, or point solutions that contain the features of one or two categories.
Construction data analytics solutions provide real-time insights on construction projects. These tools build data-driven reports so managers can save time and stay up to date on active projects with jobsite data.
Construction drawing management tools, also known as building information modeling (BIM) for construction, allow users to upload, edit, and markup construction drawing plans. These solutions facilitate collaboration between site owners, builders, and contractors during the planning and building process.
Construction ERP solutions act as the centralized information systems for disparate points of construction projects. These tools include both back-office functions like invoicing, accounting, and document management as well as jobsite-focused features.
Construction estimating solutions, sometimes known as job costing solutions, manage the proposal and estimate building process for construction professionals. These tools can be specialty (HVAC, electrical, etc.) focused, or specialty agnostic.
Construction project management solutions handle the lifecycle of construction projects. These project management tools manage project workflows, handle document management, product punch lists, and facilitate task assignments for the teams involved in a project.
Construction risk and safety solutions manage and mitigate construction site risks. These tools provide templates to facilitate data collection during site walkthroughs, produce reports on collected data, and alert project managers to potential risks to compliance.
Jobsite management solutions are mobile-focused tools designed to facilitate communication between the back office and the jobsite. These tools allow workers to track hours via a mobile app, coordinate between teams, and keep an eye on site resources.
Takeoff solutions manage the preconstruction process of cataloging and pricing any and all items a construction project requires. Takeoff tools measure site dimensions, leverage digitized blueprints to count specific items, and be used to fuel accurate cost estimates.
Within each type of construction management software, deployment method (on premises or in the cloud) is another differentiator.
Cloud-based software: Online or cloud-based construction management software facilitates the easy access of project information on the field, outside of normal work hours, or in any setting where the user has a web browser and working internet connection. Cloud-based construction management software empowers project managers and contractors by providing access to data any time, anywhere. Cloud-based solutions typically use a subscription model, usually the vendor of the solution upgrades the software and performs regular maintenance. Smaller construction firms with little money to burn often turn to cloud-based construction management software.
On-premises software: A construction management system deployed on premises equips construction professionals with more control than cloud-based solutions. Like any other type of on-premises software, all information stored on computers and servers is bought and uploaded on the company’s own dime. That information and software is managed and organized by an internal IT team. On-premise construction management software, like in any industry, comes with a hefty fee—however, that fee is one time and upfront, and generally, the cost of maintenance and upkeep is cheaper than SaaS offerings. Larger construction firms utilize on-premises construction management software to mitigate the risks of storing data on third-party servers.
Construction management software provides owners and managers a bird’s eye view over operations and logistics, from the start to finish of a construction project. The software facilitates and encourages cross-team collaboration, external communication, resolution of conflicts, and integration of third-party solutions. Construction management software makes it possible for a construction business to set timelines and budgets for projects, no matter how many projects a contractor, engineer, or business owner has. This software alleviates concern about the smoothness of workflows and accuracy of estimates and improves decision-making. Construction management software streamlines both individual phases of a construction project as well as the entire project lifecycle.
Streamline project management: Construction projects are made up of numerous individual tasks and assignments. Construction management software allows users to delegate specific project objectives and milestones, change orders, set up and track budgets, coordinate scheduling, and generate reports. Contractors, architects, and engineers can depend on the construction management software to track labor and equipment, create and send out bids and takeoffs, estimate job cost, log work hours, and generate reports about the progress of projects. Construction projects rely on drawings, blueprints, and contracts to verify the progress of projects. Construction management software that supports the import and export of drafts, facilitates versioning, allows easy sharing of relevant documents, and provides editing functionality are comprehensive platforms that can be used in any stage of the construction project lifecycle.
Improve estimating and bidding: Bid management software may be sold as point solutions, but construction management software that offers estimating, budgeting, and forecasting functionality along with bid proposal and bid management functionality leads to a significant boost of productivity.
Reduce risk: Construction job sites are full of hazards and potential OSHA violations. Construction risk and safety software can measure and assess risk, conduct safety regulations, and ensure sites are up to code, protecting construction teams.
Streamline collaboration: Scheduling of crew, equipment, and other resources plays a crucial role in the management process. Construction projects often take longer and become more expensive than anticipated. Construction management software offers work scheduling, attendance tracking, features to deal with change orders, and more that make it easier for managers to improve their people and resource management. Implementing a construction management tool can improve communication with both team members and customers, increase accountability and transparency within a company, and ensure the timely completion of construction projects.
Reduce costs: Construction management software helps cut down operational costs, improve profitability, and leverage cloud technologies. Because many construction management solutions take cues from general project management software, they greatly benefit project managers when coordinating purchase orders and following up with contractors, suppliers, engineers, and other key players. Financial management is a key function of certain construction management systems. Lots of money is routed through construction projects and it all has to be kept organized. Certain construction management solutions help keep track of estimated and actual money spent, allowing users to identify potential areas where costs can be cut. These solutions generally integrate with accounting software or provide their own construction accounting features to streamline the process.
Construction management software can, and is, used by any construction professional involved in a project. Products offer different permission levels, making it easy to share plans with both collaborators and stakeholders, without worrying about unsanctioned markups and changes. The users of construction management software include owners, managers, home builders, general contractors, remodelers, subcontractors, architects, and engineers.
Related solutions that can be used together with construction management software include:
Building design and building information modeling (BIM) software: All construction projects start with a design plan. It’s much easier to make design plans with BIM software. While some construction management solutions provide organic BIM functionality within their platform, many others have built their systems to allow easy integration with products in the BIM industry.
Capital project management software: Construction projects, especially commercial ones, can turn into long-term capital intensive projects. With capital project management software, owners and managers of capital projects can rest easy, knowing all their resources and processes are tracked, stored, and analyzed in a central repository.
Project-based ERP software: Project-based ERP software facilitates transparency within revenue-generating companies via the recording of project-related information. Construction firms are revenue-generating businesses, therefore, smart and adaptable construction management solutions help maximize profits, effectively budget, realistically forecast, and automate tasks.
Environmental health and safety software: Construction job sites are full of risk. Construction projects must adapt to and resolve any hurdles or issues that crop up that can delay the progress of a project. Environmental health and safety software is used by any type of business that reduces risks and logs workplace incidents in case of an audit. Many construction management solutions include a risk and safety module, for both the calculation of risk factors that can hamper the completion of a project, as well as overseeing safety and risk measures on a construction jobsite.
Architectural rendering software: Architects and interior designers utilize architectural rendering software to visualize and enhance their 2D or 3D architectural plans. Because many architectural rendering solutions are designed to interface with BIM software and extend the scope of its functionality, this type of software can enhance the preconstruction part of the project.
Software solutions can come with their own set of challenges.
Construction management software has gone from a “nice to have" to a “need to have" for construction firms. However, smaller construction companies with smaller budgets and staff hesitate to purchase these platforms. Some concerns that companies have include training staff to properly deploy and implement new software and providing ongoing training or regular updates once the software is fully integrated into daily use.
Adoption: One of the issues with implementing any new software is ensuring that people adopt and use the new solution. Proper training and a demonstration of the value the company is getting from implementing the tool are key to securing a smooth transition that sets users up for success.
Cost: Price is generally a sticking point when it comes to choosing and implementing a new piece of software. Construction companies operating on legacy systems may balk at the thought of abandoning the tools they’ve grown accustomed to, but the variety of cloud-based options out there provide prospective buyers with a glut of more affordable and agile options than they’ve had in years past.
Existing systems: New software has to play nice with existing systems, which can be a challenge. Data migration as well as integration with legacy software, particularly if it’s on premises, is another challenge that companies face when buying new systems. To mitigate the difficulties in implementing new construction management solutions, buyers should conduct a thorough investigation into the tools’ native integrations as well as the vendor’s capacity to facilitate ad-hoc integrations.
There are a variety of construction management solutions, from comprehensive, all-in-one software to point solutions that accomplish a single function. The selection team should know what existing systems they have, how they interact, and what functionality they’re looking to secure with the new purchase. Narrowing down the core features needed and outlining a larger list of nice-to-have features will help shape the search. Any necessary integrations with existing systems should be considered at this point.
Create a long list
The long list should include all solutions that meet the core feature requirements put together during the requirements gathering phase.
Create a short list
The short list should be constructed by sending out RFIs to vendors that meet the core feature requirements and narrowing down the long list to just those solutions the team is seriously considering.
After the short list is put together, the buying team should put together a standard list of questions and scenarios to ask vendors during demos. This, along with research done on peer-review sites and information gathered from other sources, will give the team the information needed to make a decision.
There are a variety of different pricing options available within the construction management software sphere. Historically, perpetual licenses for on-premises solutions were common, requiring a large upfront investment and sometimes yearly maintenance fees. As cloud-based SaaS solutions are taking over, a monthly subscription fee based on the number of users is a more typical pricing structure. Customization may require additional investment.
In order to calculate ROI for construction management solutions, total cost of ownership (TCO) needs to be taken into account. The TCO should be compared against time saved for different teams, any cost savings identified by the solution itself, improved productivity, and how the solution impacted the business’ ability to scale.
The construction industry has become a hive of innovation and technological evolution. Any new development in construction technology is geared toward making the construction process more efficient and making up any losses that come with a deficiency in labor. The following trends point to more endeavors in efficiency, automation, convenience, and integration with existing solutions.
Mobile access: The construction industry has taken strides to become digital. With digital transformation comes the proliferation of mobile devices—workers already use their cellular phones to take pictures and scrawl notes. Now, construction management software is applying those habits to the photo taking, markup writing, list and contract attachment needs of contractors and engineers. Most construction management software is built for on-site use to capture information in real time, and then synced to update project plans once the devices have an internet connection.
Drones and automation: Drones, robots, and automated technology can optimize current manual processes, whether that’s land surveying or taking progress pictures to leverage 3D imaging functionality. The construction industry plans to adopt sophisticated technology to further minimize risks and concerns on jobsites, better estimate the types and quantities of physical resources, and streamline coordination and communication between project owners and customers.
Market consolidation: Major players in the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry have started acquiring and snatching up smaller, more agile, and innovative companies. Change is happening in the construction industry, impacting both the approach to construction projects and the resources utilized once projects begin. Acquisitions and consolidations result in cloud suites that offer modular variations of standalone point solutions, as well as seamless integrations with construction tools or applications. Integrated platforms take cues from best of breed platforms, but understand that some vendors are experts in certain product offerings; instead of reinventing the wheel, supporting easy integration makes users’ lives easier and more productive.
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