Transformation is a challenging process. It causes people to change their routines, behaviors, and the way they carry out their work.

Who actually enjoys change? It’s uncomfortable.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is the motto for those wanting to maintain the status quo. Sometimes just fine is fine enough. But this is far from the case when we’re talking about construction program management.

Commercial construction shows us the result of clinging onto traditional practices.  For an industry that accounts for 13% of global GDP, the construction sector has only improved productivity 1% in the last 20 years 1.

If construction companies focused on methods to improve productivity, they could add $1.6 TRILLION of value to the economy 1.

In our technology driven age, it only makes sense to explore IT solutions for the construction industry.

By implementing web based construction management software, on-site productivity can increase by 50% 1. And while streamlining operations in the field is a significant boost, there are numerous other benefits as well.

Making the decision to adopt a construction project management software can be a journey in itself. Yet, it’s a necessary one. Moving your program to a construction software is the next logical progression for growth.

If you’ve already committed to transformation, congrats! That’s a tremendous accomplishment for any large organization. Now the real journey begins.

The purpose of this article is to paint the landscape for you and your team. Let us be your guide to navigate the territory of construction management software systems. Before you know it, you’ll be astonished you ever ran your program any other way.

70%

of construction companies believe that companies who don’t adopt digital ways of working will go out of business

NBS 2019 2

89%

Agree that digitization will transform the way they work

NBS 2019 2

77%

Agree that digitisation will increase productivity of the construction sector.

NBS 2019 2

79%

Of the construction industry’s top 20% of innovative leaders invest in and have implemented a Project Managemet Information System. 

KPMG 2019 2

1. Construction Software:
Why and Why not.

“What once took us two hours to update information on 10 projects, we can do in less than two hours for more than 55 projects using Projectmates. We are doing nearly four times the volume while scaling staffing less than half that.”

Barbara Y. - Manager of Construction, Love's Travel Stops

Traditionally, construction programs are highly fragmented.  Various groups operate in their own silos.  From the owner all the way down to the subcontractor, projects are run across multiple platforms.

Excel, email, file sharing (like Dropbox), and simple SMS make up the usual gambit of tools to run a project. This recipe is one that begs for misaligned information, unexpected costs, and delays.

In some cases you have your contractors operating from their own software entirely.  Even with a construction software this can present its own set of issues (which we’ll touch more on later).

If you don’t use construction management software, how do you manage your projects?

Capterra 2015 3

If your team is operating this way then you’ve undoubtedly suffered through the downside.  How often does your team need to go on a goose-chase for a design set or other doc? How often does your team get gridlocked waiting on an approval? RFIs pile up on some projects vs others?

What about analytics? It’s difficult to gain insights if your financials are scattered across spreadsheets and your RFIs buried in email…

At the end of the day, project owners need the ability to run analytics on project performance. With traditional processes, not only is the information not reliable, but difficult to compile.

Construction project management software can be the single-source of truth; a centralized platform, where everyone will be operating out of the same cloud based construction platform.

At a baseline, this gives your team the confidence they need knowing the data is reliable. That’s a differentiator on its own. However, there are a few other key ingredients that are naturally included in the recipe for your program’s success.

Let’s go thru’ whys of implementing a construction project management software.

A. Standardization

You may be thinking, ‘Our company has been running on the same standard practices for 40 years.  What do you mean no standards?’  

Yes, while this may be true, if those standards are being executed across disjointed software… You’re working against the current.

Let’s say you have a standard of practice for how change orders get approved. Traditionally, the next person in the approval chain gets an email with the request.

From there, it’s a waiting game. Emails pile on top, other ‘fires’ get prioritized, and focus turns anywhere else except approval. All the while it sits there- as do your construction teams waiting for the green light.

In a properly implemented construction software, this is no longer an issue. The same standard approval process can be structured to be used in every instance. Only now it’s automated, recorded.  It will diligently send reminders, nudge until an action is taken.

A good construction project management software allows you to standardize every aspect of your program. These standards can provide a trustworthy baseline to streamline every single project.

Not only will you be able to have a standard template for your various approval processes, but for the rest of your operations as well. 

This creates a standard SOP for everything from budgeting to change management, project bidding, and more.

We’ve covered standardization through construction software in greater detail here.

Client Case Study 4

Reduced in Design & Construction Time
50%
Reduced in Design & Construction Cost
44%

B. Transparency

In a fragmented industry like construction, it’s easy to play the ‘blame game’.  Especially when a program isn’t operating out of one central source of truth.

Missing a particular document or the latest revision to a design set?  Start asking around and the finger pointing ensues. “I sent it to so-and-so.”, “No, I never received it.”, and so forth.

This routine occurring time and time again is not only mind-numbing, but detrimental to the timeline of a project.

Look for full transparency in a construction project management software. A good construction software can deliver clarity to your construction program so you can create a unified capital construction plan, years ahead of ground break.

"I love the fact that every one project added to Projectmates can keep everyone on the same page. Once you become part of the project and acquire the necessary rights, you will always be in the loop."

Gracie Y. -Construction Specialist, Trinity River Authority

Going back to the approval example- let’s say there’s a delay in an approval for a change order.  Authorized users will be able to easily see who’s next in line to give the go-ahead.  The system will also show you who’s already given approval and when.

The same goes for document activity.  Know exactly who’s interacted with what document, when, and how.

This level of transparency applies to the entire scope of your program.  Project managers need full visibility into what tasks are assigned to whom, when they’re due, and if they’re overdue.

C. Accountability

Those same features mentioned above inherently result in an added layer of accountability. Construction management software opens up your program to a world where people are held to their word.

An enterprise-level construction management software should make the pending tasks readily visible.  The team members should never be required to dig thru’ more than one level to see their obligations.  

The right construction management software will send regular alerts for them to handle their business. This not only applies to tasks on the schedule, but approvals, change management, and close-out lists as well.

D. Mobile

Arguably, the single biggest impact a construction management software will have on your program is the ability to go mobileWe like to say whether you’re at the office, headed to a meeting, or on the beach you can stay plugged into your projects.

Managing construction away from your desk should no longer be an issue. The best construction management software out there will provide a robust tool that enables your team to operate from anywhere.

A mobile construction management software gives your construction team updates in real-time.   It should include features that up worker productivity when not in office and even without the Internet connection.   The team members can take action from their device wherever they are when it matters most.   

"Almost all (94%) construction software users use their phones to manage projects for more than two hours a day."

In a study done by B2B software provider, Capterra 2015 3

If done right, your team will have the full power of your construction management software in the palm of their hands. As much as the software cuts delays already, imagine being geo-agnostic.

You should be able to access all relevant project information including documents, plans, and schedules. Everything you can do from the office, your team should now be able to do anywhere.

In today’s day and age, there’s no excuse.

2. How Does the Vendor
Approach Their Construction Software?

Choosing a software vendor goes well beyond simply buying a product.  When you make the decision on what construction management software your program is going to run on, you’re choosing a partner.

That partner not only needs to have the experience of being on the front-lines, but has a heart to see you succeed.  A partner like that will be sure that your construction software continues to evolve as well.

Enterprise construction software is not an ‘out-of-the-box’ solution.  Each construction program has its own idiosyncrasies.  They each run their programs with subtle nuances.  Sure, this is the nature of people.  More importantly, this is the nature of a competitive free-market.

Operational strategy certainly gives construction programs a competitive advantage.  There’s no question.  But the right construction management software will amplify those strengths. 

We’ve discussed at-length how important the vendor’s implementation team is to your ROI.  At the same time, there are a number of other factors that play into your program’s long-term success with a software.

Be sure to include these as factors to consider when building your construction software short-list.

"You can bring technology and innovation into project controls, but what about people? You have experience professionals with experience in schedule and costs, and a young generation that is tech savvy but may not understand the basics. The challenge is how to give the new guard more skills and how to get the old guard to better understand technology."

Geno Armstrong- Global Sector Leader, KPMG International 3

A. Experience

What’s the vendor’s background in construction look like? Do they have legitimate ‘boots-on-ground’ experience? Can they speak to the challenges your team faces day-in and day-out? And more importantly, can they lead your team to bring clarity to your current practices?

These are all valid questions in a world where software development and funding are all-too accessible. Anyone can look at the construction industry and see an opportunity.

Remember how big the industry is (see 13% of global GDP)? Remember how few construction companies are using construction software (roughly 50%)?

It’s easy to have someone build a pretty piece of software with basic functionality. The question is really, ‘will this software help us be the best we can be?’.

For that to be the case, the people who built the software need to have stood in your shoes. They need to have built it out of frustration from the same pains you feel today.

B. Configuration

Each construction program runs projects with their own twist. Your construction project management software needs to adapt to the traits of your program.

The right construction management software can be custom tailored for a perfect fit from the start.

Many software companies are eager to invoice for any ‘custom’ development. Well… there’s custom development and then there’s common sense configuration. Take a look at how adaptable the software is.

Will you be able to easily make changes without the need of a developer? Or is that something the vendor will work with you on through implementation? How flexible IS the software before needing to pay more?

The right vendor will make sure that your construction software works FOR you in the way YOU need it. That’s the whole point, right?

C. Implementation

The team responsible for installing your software plays a tremendous role in your success. Of course, they’ll be laying all of the groundwork for your construction software. And not just configuring the software. That’s a given.

The real work is done in the relationship that’s built with your training team and the vendor’s. We discussed this in our article on implementation, but your success grows with the relationship between these two teams.

It’s the responsibility of the implementation team to seek-out what your biggest challenges are. Their goal should be to learn the intimate details of how your team runs a project and configure your software around those.

By doing this, you’ll get that custom tailored feel that the right software can provide.

It’s important to note- the best implementation teams take it a step further. Their primary goal may be to gain a holistic understanding of your program. But in doing so, they’ll see opportunity and suggest best practices to improve your program further. Since you’re already making such a dramatic change, it might be the best time to evaluate your processes and see if there can be any efficiencies gained.

Begin asking questions about implementation early and often. This relationship will continue on throughout your experience with the software.

Typical Implementation for Projectmates
< 47 Days
Duration of Implementation
90 Days
Of Escalated Support Following Implementation
7 + Years
Avg. Experience for Implementation Team

D. support

Once your trained power users are flying solo, there will be times when they might hit some turbulence. When this happens, having a dedicated team to guide you back on track will make all the difference.

It’s too easy for companies today to outsource their support to cut overhead. Cutting overhead doesn’t cut it for your success, though. We’ve all experienced the frustration of dealing with an outsourced call center…

The right construction management software vendor will have live support staff (in-house) to make sure you’re taken care of.

This support staff will have been briefed already by the same team that put their heart and soul into implementing your software.

As well as being connoisseurs of the software, these folks should be construction management experts as well. It’s important that you have the same confidence in your support staff that was built by the implementation team.

From the time you make the decision throughout the course of your experience with the software, there should be no drop off. If you get the sense that ‘signing on the dotted line’ will be the hand-off, it might be time to consider another vendor.

E. Ease-of-use

Especially in an industry as traditional as construction management. Only about 50% of commercial construction companies are using a construction management software. Most of them are needing to catch up to the 21st century just as a baseline.

When these construction programs finally do adopt a software, there’s often enough backlash from the fact people are having to change the way they do things. If your construction management software is clunky and confusing to figure out, that’s just going to add fuel to that fire.

One of the biggest factors for success we’ve found in our experience with construction software is that it has to be intuitive. It has to be easy to use. The layout should make sense even to the most fundamental user. If it’s not clear and simple to navigate, you’re setting yourself up for a world of headache.

Find a software that clicks with your team- one that’s been designed with ease-of-use in mind. We’ve come across countless companies using our software that can attest to this.

F. Security

Running a large-scale construction program already comes with the lion’s share of risks. Worrying about what happens to your data shouldn’t be one of them.

Whoever you choose to provide your construction software, they need to protect your data. Period.

There are a multitude of protocols and guidelines that your vendor can adhere to for the safety of your data. Typically, one layer is not enough in today’s digital space.

When vetting the right construction management software, get a feel for what they have in place. How secure is the server-side architecture? Can you enable 2FA? What happens if a data center gets taken out by a natural disaster?

These are all crucial pieces to making sure your data is preserved and maintains its integrity.


Hosted Data Centers

There are several PaaS (Platform as a Service) providers that deliver the highest level of security, speed, and reliability. This allows vendors to focus on customer experience knowing their data is locked down.

Vendors that employ this model are able to provide a private cloud for each new client.

By leveraging these services, clients can also trust in state-of-the-art disaster recovery protocols. With active geo-replication clients can trust that their data can never be jeopardized.

90 %
Of Fortune 500 companies take advantage of this luxury through services like Microsoft Azure.


Two-Factor Authentication

PaaS providers deliver virtually every security precaution they can. Still, there can still be attempts to compromise individual accounts. It’s the responsibility of each user to follow secure password guidelines.

What you need to know about your construction software vendor is that they make 2FA available. 2FA delivers an additional layer of security to verify any given user is actually logging in.

With 2 Factor Authentication, you can be confident that your accounts will remain uncompromised. 2FA verifies that any access to your account will only be granted via a device in your possession.


SOC 2 Type II

A true indicator that you can trust a vendor you’re considering for construction software can be seen in standards like this. This set of standards ensures that organizations handle their information with the highest security.

The SOC 2 Type II compliance applies to a vendor’s organizational practices as well. Each member of the organization must meet these standards for the company to qualify.

Not only does this certification show good faith in an organization, but gives you that ‘cherry on top’ of the security sundae.


Role Based User Permissions

Across the span of your construction program you’re going to have a myriad of users in and out of the software. Each of them are going to need access to job specific information.

Owners will mostly be getting in there for reporting and to check schedule milestones. Accounting for the cost tracking, and so forth. Few users need access to the entire system.

User rights is one of the more common concerns we run into with companies looking to adopt a construction software. Fortunately, it’s an easy fix and one that the right construction management software should have built-in.

We get the concern. Users should only be able to access exactly what they need to see. There’s a lot of sensitive data stored in there.

User permissions often come standard with a construction software, but how flexible are they?

When vetting a construction project management software be sure to ask about this. Look into how flexible the permissions are. The best construction management software systems understand that not all users are created equal.

As you’ve likely experienced, there are one-off users that need access to something typically out of the scope of their role. This should be a simple check box within your construction software.

Otherwise, set up your standard roles during implementation to ensure each user has access to only what they need.

3. It’s Gotta Make
Operations Seamless

Construction Workflows

Day in and day out you’ve got crews constantly in flux at the job site. There’s no telling what curve balls get thrown their way any given day. With the right construction software, your team can efficiently manage RFIs, submittals, punchlists, photos, and more.

Projectmates Client Snapshot

Email and push notifications instantly notify key players as RFI’s come through. Quickly route or close them as necessary. The best construction management software will be built for speed. You’re going to love how fast issues get resolved.

There’s no way you can forget about those monotonous field reports. A good construction software will make those as seamless as possible. From their device your field team will be able to store photos, log equipment, personnel, and accident reports.

Document Management

Managing the full cycle of documents doesn’t have to be a cumbersome and disjointed process. You shouldn’t have to jump out of one software and into another to access your construction documents. It only makes sense to have one central location for your entire team to work on all project docs.

The right construction management software will provide this for you.

Good construction document control software enables your team to collaborate in real-time from anywhere. Whether it’s a CAD file or drawing set, your team can securely log in and make changes from any device.

Each of your players will be automatically notified of any new versions or revisions for any document folders they are watching. The best construction management software will create a log that allows you to see who’s been notified, downloaded, or opened each revision.

How many hours per day do you spend managing project documentation?

Capterra 2015 3

Project Bidding

What has traditionally been a painstaking process in bidding out construction projects can now be done in a construction bid package software.

Construction bid management software provides a fully-collaborative construction bidding software. Your project team creates bid solicitation requests and publishes information to the virtual plan room. 

Your construction management software should come equipped with this.

87 %
Decrease in Overall Bid Processing Time
Right from the start, bid package creation should be a breeze. Construction bid package software allows you to create packages directly from the project budget. Attach any drawings, spec sheets, or instructions relevant to each construction project.

From the same location, invite pre-qualified bidders or create a link for self-registration. The best part?  The right bid analysis software comes standard with an automated bid leveler.  From there, an analysis grid will break down each of your vendor bids side-by-side. You’ll be able to quickly see the front-runners at a glance. The system will alert the winner when you’ve awarded the contract.

4. Financial
Clarity

Sure, you could probably get by managing one or two construction projects in Excel. After all, who doesn’t love a well-designed spreadsheet? Even with the perfect spreadsheet, things are going to fall through the cracks.

As change orders begin to stack up and invoices continue to roll in, that nice looking spreadsheet you had control of has become an error ridden behemoth.

Good luck to whoever has to step in and decipher that- even without the errors.

"Construction management software has proven to be a sound investment for construction companies across all building industries. Whether construction managers are looking to decrease the amount of time spent on projects, increase sales, or simply save money by streamlining their processes, construction management software is proving to be the right choice by adding significant value to the industry."

In a study done by B2B software provider, Capterra 2015 3

A patchwork of Excel sheets isn’t going to clearly tell the full story of your construction finances. The best construction management software will track every single cost, contract, change order… All of it.

What’s better yet is it will all be linked to each respective project.

Within good construction budget software all your project financial data will have a relationship. As you send out bids, receive change orders, and pay vendors, it all feeds back to your budget in real-time.

You’ll immediately see these anticipated costs and how they impact your construction budget.

The right construction budget management software will be a living breathing record where you’ll track all project costs. You’ll be able to break them down by groups, cost accounts, funding sources, or WBS.

It’ll calculate roll-ups automatically and even flag any items that conflict with your approved budget. From your budget page, you’ll see a real-time snapshot of all anticipated, committed, and actual construction costs.

Your budget will instantly reflect all changes as they come through.

5. Program
Insights

Reporting

In a data driven world there’s no reason you shouldn’t have the metrics you need at your fingertips. The best construction software gives you that control in mere clicks.

Effective management demands accurate, real-time information. Great construction management software equips your team to track progress and make better informed decisions.

Create custom dashboards that will give you the crucial analytics you need at a glance in real time. Display mission-critical information for your whole program in one dashboard.

Program reports should be customizable to extract data from the deep corners of your projects. The software should make it easy to design the exact report you want- without the need for tech support.

Track budgets, compare actual costs versus anticipated costs, and project expenses by department. Pinpoint the causes of change orders. Use this data for trending and forecasting of future projects.

For example, a program director can build a budget report by fiscal year and then view the average cost of architectural services by region.

The bounds of your construction project management software reporting should be limitless. Not only that, but easy to use.

Industry executives’ perception of the future landscape (within 5 years)

KPMG 2019 2

6. Integrations

In this age, your software platforms should all be able to seamlessly communicate with one another. There’s no question. Especially when it comes to your construction management software.

Owners know there’s an ever-evolving matrix of data involved in running a construction program. 99.9% of this data will be stored in your construction project management software.

For the last little bit, it’s important to explore the integration capabilities of the platform you’re looking at.

Does the construction software allow for multiple scheduling files? What about accounting? They’re going to need financial data to seamlessly pull to your ERP system.

These are all questions that should be front-of-mind when feeling out your best options for construction software.

Consider what platform your contractors will be using. Do you require them to operate out of your program? Or will they insist they use their own construction management software?

These are important questions as the implications of RFI and submittal cross-over result in time lost. The more you can get your entire supply-chain on the same page, the better.

Lastly, it’s always great to have developmental resources as a part of your team. If you do, perfect. For those that don’t, ask your potential vendor about their API access. This could be a life saver… or a deal breaker.

About Projectmates

For 20 years, we’ve been pushing the envelope for construction management software. You’re not going to find a more intuitive and easy to use platform. From conception to closeout, we’ve got you covered.

Our Construction Project and Program Management software is thoughtfully crafted to solve the construction industry’s most pressing challenges from the owners perspective. For 20 years, we’ve kept a pulse on the construction industry and are constantly improving our management software to make sure your projects come in on time and under budget. We speak from experience.

1 McKinsey Global Institute- Reinventing Construction: A Route To Higher Productivity

2 KPMG Global Construction Survey 2019

3 Capterra- Construction Management Software Study: How Effective is it?

4 Systemates, Inc. – Projectmates Construction Project Management Client Study

See it in actioN

See it in action

See it in action

See it in action