Construction Project Management Software Buyer’s Guide
What is Construction Management Software?
A construction management software allows companies to carry out all important tasks with proficiency while maintaining a proper oversight over all the ongoing operations.
These could include scheduling and completing tasks like making a to-do list, punch lists, or even dealing with client billings. The system also equips firms with appropriate document control that is necessary when monitoring requests for information (RFI) or purchasing orders or making changes in them.
A construction project management (PM) software is really helpful when you need to take care of your project deadlines and budgets.
Table of contents
Benefits of Construction PM Software
There are several benefits that come with purchasing construction project management software. Here are the best advantages of it:
- Better Accountability:
- With a great document control feature that comes with the software, you can easily track all your operations like future plans from the to-do lists, RFIs, submittals, change orders, etc.
- Moreover, accessing the documents becomes easier with a centralized storage system. This constantly backs up any changes throughout all devices so that everyone is aware of the new additions.
- Financial Visibility:
- The software lets you understand and maintain a good budget plan by implementing a proper cost control module.
- Through this, supervisors can track real-time cost relatives with the estimates made and take decisions based on alert notifications that notify you when the project is not going according to the financial plan.
- The data becomes accurate with systemized integration with accounting and job costing systems. You can also benefit from its professional financial insights.
- Improved Collaboration:
- The software allows you to work virtually with your team members as all data is stored on the cloud.
- The operations take place in real-time where you can perform tasks like submitting RFIs, reviewing markup plans, receiving orders, or even executing a change order.
Competitive Advantages of Using Construction PM Software
Implementing this software in your business work system can benefit you with the following competitive advantage:
Make Working More Efficient And Error-free
The construction PM software allows you to go through a more disciplined approach to managing your crucial projects and clients.
This is done through the appropriate scaling of your business that reduces a lot of manual work required to complete certain tasks. In addition to that, you will also be able to cut down your costs by removing excess employees or unnecessary lawsuits.
Features That Improve The Quality of Work
There are several processes like standardizing workflow on job sites, changing orders, or tracking purchases; that can be easily kept track of using the advanced features provided by the Construction PM Software
It can help you maintain the rules and regulations laid down by the company and make communications among all members of the office easier.
Moreover, it provides you a centralized storage system where important files, folders, pictures, blueprints, job documentation, and punch lists can be stored to be made available to all in the office. This will help you considerably reduce your chances of committing a mistake.
Become Time Efficient
Since the software helps you with a maximum of tasks with sheer accuracy and efficiency, you will, as a result, be able to complete more tasks in a given period of time, compared to before.
The best feature of the software is probably the one that helps you compare the estimated project costs with the actual ones.
This visibility and transparency make you more alert in limiting the costs and consulting executives when a problem arises. Thus, not only do you complete tasks in less time but in a minimized budget as well.
How Call Center Software Differs From PBX And Customer Service Software
Call centers can be said to be a more advanced form of business phone systems. Although it has the same features, you can enjoy additional perks like a help desk and customer service solutions.
These two features are what make a call center software more unique. Here is a list of some major differences between the two:
- You can gain access to more advanced calling features like IVR, dialers, and skill-based routing.
- The Call center system seems to work best for sales agents of a company or their support teams. However, there are some features that can be useful for front-desk employees of the office as well. Hence, with this software, you can either opt for a standard phone system or use the features as well depending upon your requirements.
- Standard phone systems have cheaper license rates as compared to call center systems on average.
- A call center software has a very special feature called “trouble ticketing”. Using this you can track the issue your customer has until it gets resolved. This extremely helpful feature can be integrated into standard call centers with CRM systems as well.
- In case you need to manage the sales campaign for your outbound contact center, Help desk and customer service solutions might not be of much use to you as they are designed to work with inbound contacts only.
Business Sizes Using Construction PM Software
There are different construction PM software available in the market based on different business sizes that decide to purchase it.
Other factors that determine these include the expertise and availability of IT resources and the demographic segment of the company that comprises their field of work.
Different software available can be categorized according to the following types:
- Single User:
- A small firm with a single worker and no IT department; $1 million annual revenue.
- Small Business Buyer:
- About 100 employees with less than 20 software user licenses; around $50 million annual revenue.
- Midsize Buyer:
- About 100 employees with 11–100 user licenses; around $100 million annual revenue.
- Midsize — enterprise Buyer:
- More than 100 employees with more than 100 user licenses with about $100 million+ annual revenue.
Different construction PM software buyers can be classified as follows:
There are a lot of tasks to be accomplished at a general contractor enterprise like tracking costs, managing documents, or even scheduling projects.
Hence, we deploy the best of the construction PM software at their service. In most cases, C-level executives might even aim for integrated construction management and accounting suite.
Building owners usually have to deal with a portfolio of capital projects while also keeping tabs on the time period and budgets of the same in aggregate.
Therefore construction PM software for them comes with a sophisticated portfolio management system. This helps them maintain accountability to their clients while also encouraging online collaboration with entrepreneurs.
Independent Construction Managers
Budgeting is a prerequisite for any independent construction manager. That is why an advanced construction software functionality for them includes budgeting, document control, and costing.
For a more cost-effective solution, small enterprise owners can consider either a Software-as-a-service (SaaS) system or a desktop license.
Subcontractors mainly focus on managing projects with the standpoint of minimizing liability while also maximizing their employees’ performance.
For this, they usually take the help of the scheduling feature that ensures that everyone is on the right track and doing the required job at the required time.
It is also equipped with appropriate document control that ensures proper tracking of transmittals, changes orders, RFIs, and other such important documents.
Software Related to Construction PM
A construction software could be defined as a package of applications that assist you with tasks like managing the project lifecycle from pre-sale to the actual building of it until it finally reaches the billing step.
More and more firms are on the lookout for an integrated software suite that allows them to go through the entire process smoothly.
In order to make the best choice for your company while selecting a construction PM software, you must know about the basic details of the software so that while working with it you do not face any problems understanding the processes.
- The take-off process allows you to estimate the number of resources and labor required before you start the construction. This is done by taking measures off of blueprints and drawings.
- This standalone application is usually hardly found with the construction PM tool. However, it can be grouped with an estimating process.
- This pre-sale process, as mentioned before gives you rough estimates of the budget required to bring the project to life. You can further produce a detailed bid proposal with it.
- It can either be standalone or in a group with takeoff. However, it is rarely included with a construction PM suite unless the process is included in a comprehensive, integrated suite.
- Bid management:
- Bid management is a process bridging the gap between presale and project management in which contractors solicit from suppliers and subcontractors.
- The building owner then receives a qualified job quote. Most construction PM software includes this application. However, it can also be purchased as standalone software.
- Processes such as job costing, core accounting, payroll, fixed asset accounting can commonly be found within the construction accounting software.
- However, in cases where the software doesn’t offer these applications for core accounting, you can make integrations. Applications such as QuickBooks and Xero offer general accounting system integrations.
You might be offered numerous construction PM software solutions. Take a look at the following common capabilities as you compare them to choose the ideal one for yourself:
- Project Scheduling:
- Required resources and people can be assigned to the project by contractors and subcontractors.
- Project Tracking:
- This feature is essential for keeping track of the progress of a project and simultaneously maintaining the timeline and budget constraints.
- Document Management:
- A centralized repository that stores up-to-date information on projects and is accessible by everyone on the team.
- Job Costing/ project Finances:
- Accurate invoicing by constant tracking details of the estimated and actual costs for a project throughout the timeline.
Feature Details And Examples
As soon as the project gets approved, the project scheduling feature allows contractors, subcontractors, and project managers to prepare a final schedule.
It can also help you assign tasks to employees, and manage the resources and equipment required for the completion of the project.
There are tools that make it easier to identify all obstacles and dependencies that make scheduling with multiple teams more effective.
The critical path method (CPM) and Gantt charts features are extremely helpful in the project scheduling process.
The project tracking feature not only provides real-time updates of the project but also monitors the progress by collecting data from the to-do list from the start of the project until the end.
Once significant milestones are met, it automatically notifies executives and clients of the same. Moreover, notifications regarding threats like budget exceeding alerts are also provided instantly.
The feature allows you to share updates or change schedules with your employees virtually. The key features of this include task management, automatic notifications, dashboards, reporting, time tracking, and mobile access.
Important documents crucial to the company like RFIs, blueprints, change orders, photos, drawings, contracts, etc are all archived in a trustworthy database that can easily be accessed by all employees.
This form of version control ensures fewer errors, increased organization, more collaboration, and maintains a digital paper trail with clients.
Important capabilities of this feature include digital signature, upload/download capabilities, plan markup, and mobile access
Job Costing/project Finances
The job costing feature has the ability to provide a comparison between the estimated project costs and the actual ones, submit and approve timesheets and track and schedule payments/invoices.
This feature can help you through job costing, financial tracking, budgeting, integration with the core accounting system, and more.
Construction PM Software Buyers’ Top Requested Features
While buying a construction PM software, buyers usually demand a desired feature that they hope will help them grow.
Here is a list of the most common functionalities requested by companies for the year 2016.
- Project Tracking: 34%
- Job Costing: 37%
- Document Management: 25%
- Project Scheduling: 24%
The Construction PM Software Features You Really Need
Depending upon the size of your business, you might require more construction PM software features to assist you.
The following data will help you understand how the size of a company makes certain businesses make certain features critical to the smooth functioning of everyday work:
- Document Management:
- It helps you organize and store all crucial information in a centralized repository of the company.
- Project Scheduling:
- Approved projects can be assigned with resources, equipment, and workers and designed with a proper schedule. The feature is useful for companies that work on multiple projects simultaneously.
- Project Tracking:
- Keep tabs on the progress rate of a project, achievement of set goals, different levels through the completion of a project etc.
- Job costing:
- Real-time comparison of estimated project costs with actual ones along with KPI monitoring and profitability.
- Core Accounting:
- Regular tracking of finances including payments, project costs, invoices, contracts, and change orders, Efficient management of the company’s GL, AR, and AP.
- Bid management:
- Soliciting and procuring bids through contractors and subcontractors in order to get the best quote for a job. Looking for job prospects can also be done by uploading plans on an online plan room.
Midsize — enterprise Business
- Program Management:
- Maintain an updated portfolio of all the projects undertaken by the company. Efficient management of schedules, resources, and budgets across job sites.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM):
- Make customer interaction easy while also taking care of potential leads that might turn into future clients.
What Are The Key Functions of Construction PM Software?
Construction project management allows company supervisors to keep track of the actual building process and provide regular updates to managers and contractors.
Some of the key functions of the software are as follows:
- Project Scheduling:
- It helps you make feasible plans and assign different work to designated workers and eventually evaluate the progress rate of the project.
- Project Tracking:
- It tracks different phases throughout the completion of the project and notifies construction managers once certain milestones are completed.
- Document Management:
- Managing and upkeeping a centralized repository to store and secure important data like submittals and transmittals, change orders, purchase orders, punch lists, invoices, etc.
- Job costing/project Finances:
- Tracking differences between the estimated project costs and the actual expenses incurred while also updating the profits made with each project.
What Questions Should I Ask Vendors When Evaluating Construction PM Products?
It is necessary to compare all your construction PM software solutions so that you can decide which one works best for you. Here is a list of question you should ponder upon while making the purchase:
- What support and training services do the vendor offer?
- Making a shift from the manual mode of work to automated software that simplifies out things could be more difficult than it seems.
- Sometimes companies might require extensive training of their staff in order to familiarise them with the new tool. Not being properly acquainted with the system might result in serious damage.
- Therefore, look for a provider that is ready to support you during all your needs and can cater to your needs and preferences. This should include phone and email service during office hours.
- How long does implantation typically take?
- The implementation timeline depends upon the software that needs to be implemented in the office environment and normally depends upon the IT resources, experience with technology, and the level of complexity of the software.
- It usually takes some extra time and effort when the construction project management system is installed as an integrated business management suite as compared to introducing it as a standalone system.
- What product updates/changes do you have in the pipeline?
- Updates by construction PM providers are usually based on the requests of their clients and their complaints.
- The answer of the vendor to this question could help you figure out the current positioning and future enhancement of the products through powerful insights. You will also understand how important their clients’ satisfaction is.
- What accounting integrations do you offer?
- The core accounting (GL, AP, LR) is usually not present with most construction PM systems.
- Although the budgeting module and job costing features might already be present for tracking project finances, you need to ensure that your vendor integrates core accounting with your accounting platform in case it is not present.
- Does your product include a mobile app?
- Mobility increases the efficiency of your business multifold. Ask your vendor if you can perform simple tasks like uploading pictures on the project folders or signing change orders real-time on the spot.
- This will also help you effectively reduce down a lot of time and effort.
- Does your product offer or include support for building information modeling (BIM) technology?
- BIM is an important software in the construction industry that is increasingly becoming popular with both small and large firms.
- Whether or not you are using BIM, always talk about it with your vendor. Ask if they offer it or would provide an extensive BIM integration.
What are some drawbacks I should watch out for?
Here is a list of some common points to consider before buying construction PM software:
- High Cost:
- The final quote price of your software could depend upon various factors. These could be:
- Set Up and/or Installation
- License Fee
- In addition to that, keep in mind that you need to revise these costs every time you add a new user to the system.
- Moreover, the customization and integration expense might not be a one-time fee. Therefore, you would have to pay for them every time you decide to renew your contract.
- You also need to keep an eye on whether the contract has a fixed rate or not. If not, you would have to pay extra the next time you renew it.
- Poor Integration:
- The construction PM software applications should be synced with the data and new changes so that there are no errors while performing tasks.
- This should especially be the case with the accounting tool that needs to maintain track of the project costs and the subcontractor payroll.
- In a contrasting case, employees might have to rely on the tiring and susceptible to error method of manual entry.
- Therefore make sure that the tools used for the software are properly integrated with each other to avoid confusion.
Construction PM Market Trends
The following are some important market trends that should be brought into consideration when selecting the construction PM software:
SaaS is widely prevalent in the market. It is a cloud-based software that improves collaboration among employees even if they aren’t physically together.
These web-based construction tools are usually present in most systems and the buyer should pay extra attention to them. Above all the ease of implementation and lower costs make it all the more attractive.
Construction managers on the field can easily connect with in-office employees through software applications.
The growing popularity of smartphones in business means that most vendors provide mobile apps and other platforms supporting software. Make sure to inquire about these details.
LEED Credit Tracking
LEED certification is trending nowadays. Firms looking to build with the LEED certification should make sure that the software provides diligent LEED tracking during construction.
These applications are becoming a summon supplement with construction PM systems and automate detailed tracking of points.
Every construction firm requires construction PM software for becoming a part of the fast-moving business world and in order to carry out operations smoothly, effortlessly, and accurately.
Different vendors provide different software for companies with defined needs and various sizes. Moreover, the amount of features required also advances as you step on higher levels of success.
There are important points to keep in mind while buying a construction PM software and only after sincerely going through all the terms of the contracts and specific details of the products, should one make a purchase.