Construction projects are (hopefully) organized chaos. There is little that remains the same from project to project; the weather is changeable, you never know what the site conditions will be, no two construction workers communicate the same way, and it is just crazy-making.
It can be handled. You have been handling it, right? It would be nice, though, if something was available to make it a little easier.
Luckily, there is. There are high tech tools available for almost any industry and line of work. Construction specific software solutions are making a great deal of headway, improving as they go. Suites of software are arriving on the scene; all the applications you need in one package. There are many solutions out now that cover the entire project lifecycle, end-to-end.
What is software good for?
Software is great at automating repetitive work, computing, and making everything accessible to everyone who needs to engage with it. It gets rid of a lot of paper (not all, unfortunately) and younger workers and owners are coming along that have grown up with computers and software.
It’s safe to say that nearly everyone expects part of every job to be performed should be on a computer or smartphone or tablet, and every document will be online.
Biggest benefits for construction
Much of construction remains a hand-performed trade, but there is still much of the work that can be more easily done electronically.
This is where construction projects are born. The estimate is typically the most important piece of information that clients use to decide to hire. It needs to be balanced so it appears to be a good value to the client and profitable for you.
An accurate estimate will help immensely with the profit part. Construction estimation software has the ability to perform quick and accurate take-offs then integrate that data into the project management and accounting application. No need to manually transfer data, which saves time and results in fewer errors.
In addition, better numbers can get you better deals with subcontractors and vendors. You can confirm low-bid quantities accurately while successfully challenging the high bids.
Many estimation solutions include easy ways to revise edits or check the impact of different materials. You can substitute, replace, or otherwise juggle the numbers using real information to create a highly accurate bid based on the true job costs. You can use this same information on your next project and the one after that, tightening the bid each time as you gather more information and build a template to quickly turn estimates around.
Simplify document management
Everyone is buried in paperwork and some things are better to have in hard copy. But digital files take up next to no space on your desk, in your office, or in the cab of your truck. You can get rid of the blowing papers on the jobsite and just carry a tablet or smartphone to access the documents.
Document creation is made easier with templates and the ability for the solution to run calculations for automatic placement within the document. Once complete, the document can be easily shared by as many people as you need; everyone will see the same document, completely up-to-date.
Documents can be secured with various layers of access, too, so only those authorized can make changes. The rest can be read-only, easily available from the cloud or on the web. The system automatically controls versioning and creates an audit trail if needed.
Streamline human resources
Accounting and payroll for the variety of roles on a project can be a nightmare to coordinate. Construction software not only makes it easier to calculate payroll, it can help you stay compliant with the various agencies you work with. If you are using federal or state money, you are typically required to justify every dime and be able to show where it went.
Workforce reporting, construction payroll reporting, union and workers compensation, benefit tracking…all are made simpler through the use of software designed to do exactly these activities.
Reduce risk and increase profits
Risk reduction occurs when you have something that reminds you of every regulation and helps you comply with it. When you have access to checklists, nothing can be forgotten. If everything is properly documented, your business is covered.
Less risk and less rework translate into increased profits. Processes and workflows are available to anyone who needs them and the work is documented automatically. Fewer errors occur meaning little to no rework, fewer accidents, and less time lost.
Every time you have to put out a fire, you lose time and money. If you can prevent the fires, you won’t have any to put out.
Elements to look for in construction software
Before you shop for software, determine your requirements so you can get exactly what you need. No two companies work the same way; obtaining the best solution for yours will create a shortcut to implementation and adoption.
Once you start looking around, check out these features:
- Single entry integrated system
- All-inclusive features
- Strong training and technical support
- Able to provide quick solutions to time-consuming tasks
- Configurable to meet your specific requirements
Don’t buy something with a lot of bells and whistles you won’t ever use. It will be a waste of time to configure them and they could add to the complexity of using the software.
Procore by Procore Technologies promises to help construction firms increase project efficiency and accountability by streamlining and mobilizing communication and documentation.
It is available as both mobile and web-based. Training is available through webinars, documentation, live online, and in person. Users have access to online and live support 24/7.
The features include job costing and scheduling, bid management, billing and invoicing, change orders, contract management, and document/photo management.
BIM360 by Autodesk says it gives project teams the tools to coordinate better, communicate more effectively, and resolve issues quickly.
There is a free version available and you can enroll in a free trial. It is available as mobile and web-based. Training is through webinars, documentation, live online, and in person. Support is online during business hours.
The features include change orders, contract management, document/photo management, job scheduling, subcontractor management, and warranty/service management.
SiteMAX by SiteMAX Systems says it is user-friendly, and increases accountability, establishes transparency, and builds trust with clients. It includes applications for Apple TV, 24-hour weather, and a client portal.
You can get a free demonstration. It deploys as mobile and web-based. Training is through webinars and in person. Support is available during business hours.
Features include document/photo management, incident reporting, job costing, subcontractor management, and timesheets.
*All information from Capterra.com