Construction software isn’t new. For years, teams have been using apps and tools to facilitate various stages of projects, including preconstruction, design, and operations.
But the need for construction management software — specifically modern and robust solutions — continues to grow. Projects today are a lot more complex and companies increasingly face pressure to improve construction productivity and profitability.
The right technology (including software) can help construction firms do all that, and most industry players recognize this. Research by USG + U.S. Chamber of Commerce Commercial Construction Index (CCI) found that 78% of contractors believe that advanced tech can increase labor productivity and 75% believe it can improve the management of project schedules.
All this to say that getting your tech stack right is absolutely critical.
But before rushing to adopt new tools, it helps to understand what construction management software actually is.
That’s exactly what we’ll tackle below. This post will shed light on the ins and outs of construction management software, including what features to look for and how to select the right one for your company.
What is Construction Management Software?
Construction management software is essentially connected project technology geared specifically for the construction industry. It’s a tool (or a set of tools) that goes beyond just project management capabilities and enables construction firms to carry out tasks such as managing budgets, ensuring quality and safety programs, setting schedules and timelines, communicating and coordinating with stakeholders across the office and the field, and so much more.
Construction management software aims to automate and streamline tasks and connect workflows and data across the project lifecycle, so teams can be more efficient and productive.
Key Features of Construction Management Software
Here are some of the main features and capabilities you should look for when selecting construction project management software.
Modern construction management solutions run in the cloud, so teams that use them enjoy the benefits of having a single source of truth, automatic software updates, as well as having the ability to access the data they need from anywhere.
All these things are important in today’s fast-paced construction landscape, wherein team members are typically scattered across various locations. Some stakeholders are working in the office while others are remote. Meanwhile, those in the field could be in far-off locations or underground. Having a cloud-based solution ensures that everyone working on the project can get their hands on the information and tools they need no matter where they are.
And because cloud-based solutions serve as a single source of truth, everything is centralized into one platform, enabling teams to work off the same information.
Finally, these systems are automatically updated so you always have the latest version of the software. With a cloud-based solution, there’s no need to worry about missing out on key features or security updates.
Gets Everyone on Board
Look for a construction management platform that provides end-to-end solutions throughout the entire project lifecycle.
Recognize that construction work doesn’t happen in a vacuum. The various phases and activities in a project — from the earliest design stages through operations — are all linked, so the people doing the work must be connected as well.
From designers and engineers, to owners and field workers, to specialty contractors and operational vendors — everyone should be on the same page.
The right construction management software makes this easy, by giving each team member the right tools and access in relation to their roles.
In line with the software being used by people in different roles, it’s important to remember that those leveraging the solution will also have varying levels of technical expertise.
So, choose a solution that’s user-friendly. The interface should be simple and intuitive so that users can easily understand how to access the info and features they need.
Note that user-friendliness must apply to all devices, including mobile and desktop.
Flexible and Customizable
No two projects are the same. While general procedures such as daily reports, RFIs, and submittals are repetitive, each project will have nuances and specifications that will vary from one situation to the next.
Because of this, your construction management software must offer features for carrying out similar processes at scale — while still being flexible and customizable enough to work with different types of projects.
Integrates with the Right Solutions
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: construction projects don’t happen in a vacuum. Various people and systems are needed to bring projects to life, and these components need to be tightly connected in order to function seamlessly.
This is where construction integrations come in. The tools you use should have the ability to “talk” to each other. Workflows must be connected so that data can flow across systems and move smoothly from one phase to the next.
This ensures that no information slips through the cracks, which leads to teams being more informed and able to make data-driven decisions.
Projects come with a lot of data, so your construction management software must store all information in a secure environment.
In addition, it should have robust user permission capabilities that make it easy to enable and restrict access to information, depending on each person’s role.
Benefits of Using Construction Management Software
Now that you know the fundamentals of construction management software and the features to look for, let’s explore the benefits that you and your teams can unlock when you choose the right solution.
Saves Time and Money
While implementing construction management software requires a financial investment, the time and money savings that you’ll gain are more than worth it.
Research from FMI found that construction professionals spend “35% of their time (over 14 hours per week) on non-productive activities including looking for project information, conflict resolution and dealing with mistakes and rework.”
Construction management software streamlines various tasks and minimizes issues like human error and missing data. The solution also enables teams to do things quickly and accurately, so tasks are completed faster and stakeholders can devote their efforts towards high-value and profit-generating activities.
A cloud-based and tightly integrated system promotes better team collaboration. People, data, and workflows are centralized on the construction management platform, ensuring that everyone is working in the same virtual environment rather than in isolation.
The right platform eliminates data silos and keeps everything (and everyone) in sync, ultimately improving the efficiency of teams.
Adds to Quality Programs
Construction management software can improve the quality of your projects, along with the experience of everyone involved.
Increased visibility, efficiency, and collaboration all lead to better documentation, fewer defects, and better support for stakeholders — all of which translates to more favorable outcomes.
Leads to Better Decision Making
A robust construction management solution gives you the data and insights you need to make more informed decisions. Whether you need to make a call on a specific project or are looking to make high-level and strategic decisions across all your projects, your construction management software should be able to give you the necessary info.
How to Choose the Best Construction Management Software
Ready to choose a new construction management solution? The following steps will ensure that you select the best software and that your implementation process goes smoothly.
Audit Your Current Tools
Before going “out there” to find a solution, do an internal audit of your existing tech stack. List and evaluate the tools you’re already using and determine which ones to keep and which solutions can be replaced. Ask your teams about the software that they rely on and what’s missing.
You should also consider the different functionalities of your solutions. If you’re using multiple apps for specific tasks, would it be possible to replace them with a solution that offers the same features on one platform?
If there are apps that you absolutely need to keep using, take note and make sure they’re integrate-able with other tools.
It also helps to identify gaps in your technology. Do you still have manual processes in place? Do you find yourself having to re-enter the same information into different systems? These are tell-tale signs that you need modern software to automate and integrate your workflows.
Once you’ve done your internal research, gather your findings and use them to evaluate the different options on the market.
Selecting a Vendor
Construction projects involve plenty of people and moving parts, so getting up and running should be a well-thought-out process.
There’s a chance that the tool won’t be adopted by your teams, so it’s best to start a pilot program and give your vendor a test run before purchasing the software.
Security is another important factor. If you’re holding a request for proposal (RFP) process, be sure to include questions that shed light on the vendor’s security policies.
Involve Your Stakeholders
The people who will actually be using the software should be included in the selection and implementation process. Their involvement will not only help you choose the right software, but they can ensure wide adoption of the new solution.
As such, it’s important to get buy-in from users and senior staff early on. Get their input before making a purchase decision and see to it that stakeholders are comfortable with the program.
Once you’ve made a decision, thoroughly train everyone who will be using the software. Give them the knowledge and resources they need to get up and running successfully.
It also helps to have internal champions for the software — people who can engage and educate the rest of the organization and encourage them to get on board.
Throughout all of this, it’s important to remember that tech adoption and implementation can take time. So, set realistic timelines for the full roll-out of the solution.
Construction Management Software is a Must in Today’s Landscape
Implementing new construction management software takes time, effort, and commitment. But doing it is an important step to staying competitive in today’s rapidly-moving construction industry.
If your current tools leave a lot to be desired, follow the steps above to get up and running with a new and better solution.