When it comes to making an enterprise software purchase for your company, your job function plays a big part in your assessment. This especially applies to a market as large and diverse as the construction industry. From business owners to project managers to architects to IT managers, needs and wants vary immensely; however, the right software can cover everyone’s requirements and ensure your projects run smoothly.
Now let’s take a look at some of the common problems each job role runs into and how the right construction project management software can solve those issues.
Although business owners may not be involved in day-to-day project management, they are ultimately responsible for all construction projects. The need they are most focused on is improving their bottom line. This could mean anything from streamlining their accounting infrastructure to increasing security and maintaining the most accurate information possible.
Business Owner Issue: Real-Time Project Health
In construction, time and cost overruns can cause significant delays, so quick visibility to your key milestones is critical. You need to see your overall project health, and the sooner you have the information, the better.
Solution: Spot any red flags immediately – well before they get worse and critically impact your project – when you use the right construction program management software. Worried a project member missed a key milestone? You’ll know by using a Milestone Schedule Report. The report is easy to create, is not time consuming, and you’ll instantly see the health of each critical milestone in every project in your pipeline.
Business Owner Issue: Risk Management
As anyone in the construction industry may know, lawsuits are unfortunately all too common, which can be very disruptive, not to mention expensive.
Solution: The right software increases consultant and contractor accountability, which in turn reduces legal risks. Communication is key in preventing risks, and the right software provides business owners, consultants and contractors a centralized location to do so.
Business Owner Issue: Budget / Cost Tracking
With a multitude of projects going on at the same time, it can be difficult to keep up on the current status of the budget, costs and spend to date. By using spreadsheets and email to keep track of these items, there is a lot of room for human error, data entry mistakes and miscommunication.
Solution: With end-to-end budgeting, forecasting and monitoring tools, the right software helps to manage expenses at the project level as well as the program level, giving business owners visibility into all projects—past and present.
Business Owner Issue: Transparency
Being responsible for multiple construction projects simultaneously can create quite the headache. This requires keeping track of many moving variables such as different project teams, timelines, budgets and schedules.
Solution: Having a software that keeps all logs, such as RFIs and submittals, in one central location allows for better communication and organization, as well as quick and easy access. Also, including integrated scheduling to help spot project delays — which can save immense amounts of time and money in the long run — is an important component to have in any construction program management software.
Business Owner Issue: Reporting
Business owners can have construction projects going on in many different locations across the country at the same time. This can lead to a significant amount of time spent gathering data for reports.
Solution: When you have the right software, you’ll have access to a variety of reports which can be automatically delivered on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. This helps business owners know at the click of a button what is going on at sites across the country, which is especially important in this new COVID world where reaching out to staff may be difficult due to limited staffing and in-person access is not an option.
Business owners all have different needs when it comes to managing their construction projects; therefore, finding a solution that includes user-friendly, customizable reports is imperative. Having the ability to just drag and drop to design the exact report needed, gives business owners quick and dependable data to make sure there are no interruptions to their project timelines.
Construction Management Firms
Construction Management Firms or CM Firms, represent the business owners and are responsible for managing groups of projects, overseeing daily project progress activity, and managing change orders and invoices.
CM Firm Issue: Organization
Like Business Owners, CM Firms also have to manage multiple projects concurrently, so keeping track of all project paperwork, requests for information and change orders takes a significant amount of time and energy.
Solution: The right project management software will provide CM Firms with built-in business workflow modules based on industry standard to simplify processes for things such as document management, change orders and RFIs. This gives them the ability to see the status of a document or a request at any given time. Whether they need to know when a contract was signed or who is working on a punch list item, all of project data can be found in one platform, saving time from having to jump in and out of different programs to find what’s needed.
CM Firm Issue: Communication
Email threads can be hard to track. With CCs, Forwards and Reply vs. Reply to All, there’s a great risk that important communication could hit a bottleneck and cause expensive delays, or worse, completely get lost in the process.
Solution: The right software will improve this process if it has the ability to input data from anywhere (and from any device), by creating a seamless flow of real-time data between project stakeholders. A fully cloud-based software, as opposed to a locally hosted solution, allows easy collaboration in today’s remote world. For example, information can be entered straight from a job site using a mobile application, instantly notifying the Project Manager of the updates. This ultimately saves the team time, confusion and money.
CM Firm Issue: Software Integration
While having a construction management software with mobile access is key, being able to integrate with the various programs your team currently uses on a day-to-day basis is even more important (and your IT Teams will thank you, too).
Solution: Project information that needs to be shared with another platform can be done easily and without error by integrating into one program management software. One place this could easily show its value is with pay apps. Say a GC submits a pay app in the software, it should notify the Project Manager immediately. Once the pay app has been reviewed and approved, the system should push the values directly to accounting’s ERP system where the accountant working from home can process the payment.
With a cloud-based software and easy integrations, the flow of information becomes swift and gapless.
CM Firm Issue: Frequent Reporting
Without accurate reports holding everyone accountable during a project, it’s easy to imagine the trouble a CM Firm could get into. Frequent recording is a necessity; however, if Project Managers are recording everything in Excel, it becomes a very cumbersome task. Pulling client reports from a multitude of spreadsheets and separate programs and then converting the data into one report is messy and time consuming.
Solution: The right platform should offer complete transparency of the project to the owner or the owner’s rep with just a click. With automated reports, the software should show the pending tasks for each team member, the deadlines of any outstanding items, financial reports, or the progress achieved thus far just to name a few. Having access to a plethora of information with such ease decreases any risk that could be missed by a manual reporting process.
CM Firm Issue: Tracking Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
KPIs are the critical indicators of progress used to gauge a company’s overall long-term performance. Whether this be operational, financial or strategic goals, KPIs are paramount to recognizing red flags before they cause too much damage to the project’s bottom line.
Solution: A software with budgets, milestones and reporting all set up with KPIs can help keep everyone on track throughout the project.
Architects and Engineers are responsible for designing and providing drawings and documents for the facility to their customer (the Business Owner).
A/E Issue: Organization
Reviewing, responding to, and approving project documents take a significant amount of time.
Solution: A major software asset for Architects and Engineers is an easy-to-use custom workflow tool. This tool provides the freedom to easily manage and share documents such as submittals, progress photos, RFIs, punch lists and more. While the tool keeps track of the status of important documents, alerting A/Es when action is needed, they are then free to tackle other parts of the project.
A/E Issue: Document Revisions
Countless drawing revisions can leave Architects and Engineers sifting through a myriad of files, not to mention the confusion that results from inconsistent naming conventions as the files are revised.
Solution: The right construction document control software will enable team collaboration on documents and drawings in in real time. You shouldn’t have to jump in and out of multiple programs to revise drawings and make any clarifications, with real-time PDF markup capabilities, as well as activity tracking and version control, it’s simple. You can share changes with ease while keeping track of who has made a change and what version is current.
Another important feature to have in any project management solution for Architects and Engineers, is an integrated viewer with BIM models and 3D markups. This provides access to view, modify and markup your 3D files just as you would with a PDF, making collaboration simple and transparent.
A/E Issue: Project Uniformity
Lack of consistency throughout a construction program can delay responses to the business owner. Tracking down information through email, text messages or phone calls can take up much-needed time on the job and cause unneeded stress.
Solution: Uniformity in the way a project is managed is a must-have for any construction program management solution for Architects and Engineers. Ensuring full transparency on each stakeholder’s deliverables and milestones is vital to running a smooth operation. When each team is operating out of different software, information has a way of changing, which makes Architects and Engineers respond to distorted or outdated information. The ability for all teams to standardize document management and centralize communication can guarantee important access to milestone schedules, design changes, RFIs, etc. in one uniformly structured area for each project.
Contractors are tasked with managing the project for the owner as well as building the design, all while keeping within budget.
Contractor Issue: Organization
Keeping track of project paperwork like drawings, field reports, meeting notes, schedules, budgets, etc., takes a significant amount of time. This also leaves the large possibility of documents being lost if there isn’t a proper system in place.
Solution: The right software solution to assist contractors with organization pains, will possess a customizable workflow to manage documents with ease. Setting up a workflow allows contractors to get instant notifications of RFIs submitted by subcontractors and it also keeps track of any change orders or approvals.
Finding all documents in one place is not the only asset to using the right project management software. Discussion forums within a software, is one of the simplest and most effective ways to enable team members to trade ideas at a distance.
Managing project activities in the field can often go off the rails due to a lack of detailed information and being overly reliant on email for communication. This can add up to and extra 44,000 to 67,000 hours per year in time worked, which amounts to a whopping $2.19 million to $3.34 million in extra costs. Being able to quickly ask a question or send notes within the project platform is a major time — not to mention money — saver versus constantly looking for the needle in a haystack of documents.
Contractor Issue: Real-Time Budget Data
Contractors must keep track of both their income received from the business owners as well as costs related to purchasing supplies and paying subcontractors. They must calculate all expenses carefully as to be sure not to exceed the budget set by the business owner.
Solution: The best way to help with this problem, is by using a software with separate modules for Prime Contracts and Subcontracts, which automatically update a single budget report, allowing contractors to view an accurate comparison of income versus expenses.
Running project financials in Excel for example, can be messy. While this has worked for years, and some individuals are spreadsheet gurus, there is definitely a speedier and easier way to manage this. Finding a software with cost controls is your best bet. Each project budget will be run on a standard template that works for your team, and it will translate into each project. With controls in place, projects are less likely to go over budget. Plus, with automated budget reports, it’s much easier for the non-Excel gurus among us to interact with critical financial data.
IT Managers are responsible for the implementation and maintenance of computer systems which fulfill the company’s information systems requirements. They evaluate, coordinate and control electronic data operations and security needs.
IT Manager Issue: Security
Phishing scams and hackers are obviously a very serious problem that businesses deal with in today’s world, which puts security at the top of the list of pain points that IT Managers have to deal with. One small slip-up can be one huge issue to clean up. A data breach or data corruption could not only delay project timelines, but could put the company at risk of losing business entirely.
Solution: Security is definitely one of the most crucial aspects to any software. Cloud-based construction management software is the way to go when comes to top-notch security. There’s very little risk of a data breach, because cloud-providers adhere to the most advanced security protocols. And, with backups to your database stored directly in the cloud, there is zero risk of losing any precious program data.
IT Manager Issue: Integration with Current Tech Stack
Implementing an entirely new software solution is no small feat, especially when you’re in the IT department. One issue that IT Managers need to worry about is whether the current tech stack will seamlessly communicate with the new solution. Will it work within the framework that the company has, and how much time and energy will the IT team have to put into maintaining it? All of these are valid concerns when it comes to looking for a new construction management software.
Solution: The right solution will combat all of these issues. An Application Programming Interface (API) will allow multiple software applications to communicate, allowing any programs that are currently being used to flow directly into the construction program management solution.
When it comes to the concern of fitting into the framework and maintenance needed, the new project management software should be entirely cloud-based versus in-house. This means that updates, maintenance and security are automatically handled by the service provider on a continuous basis; therefore, there is no need to have technical staff or a third party manually handling routine security or software updates.
Financial Officers oversee the financial transactions of a company, including developing budgets, monitoring transactions and creating reports. They keep companies running smoothly by creating and implementing financial policies and detect and resolve problems by performing periodic financial analysis.
Financial Department Issue: Integration with Financial Software
Most finance teams already have an application in place to track company financials and like the one they’re currently using. With so much data already stored, there are valid concerns that scrapping the program or having to control multiple programs could do more harm than good.
Solution: The great news here, is that the right software will have no trouble integrating with any ERP system. While the most frequent use for an integration of this kind is used to automate invoice payments, the integration system should be designed to fit your company’s needs. So, whether it’s approving invoices, cutting checks or budget updates, the right software should have the same data as your existing ERP system, maintaining your data integrity.
Financial Department Issue: Financial Transparency
Not having easy access to the financial status of each project, can have a negative impact on weekly, monthly and annual financial reports. Imagine the extra time it can take when having to reach out to every project manager for every project by email to only have them return a spreadsheet that will need to be manually entered into financial reports. The time and resources this takes really adds up.
Solution: With the right program management software in place, the financial department can quickly look at reports showing the real-time financial status of a project. And, with just a few clicks, this report can be pushed straight into the company’s ERP application seamlessly.
Now, the key is to find a construction program management software solution that can fit the bill for each and every project stakeholder. Luckily, Projectmates can do just that! Covering organization, transparency, cost controls and more, Projectmates is your all-in-one solution for construction program management success.