Your Path to Construction Program Success in Today’s Remote World

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The Rundown

With today’s remote-first workplace, it’s more important now than ever for your team to have a single-source-of-truth to run projects from. A construction program management software delivers that and so much more. The right software is built to give your construction team access to all project data, provide them the tools to collaborate, and automate workflows—from anywhere. Program owners now have full-transparency and can take back control of their projects without having to micromanage.

How a PMIS Can Help With Remote Work in a Time of Crisis

At some point, we’ll all be on the other side of this COVID-19 predicament. None of us could have anticipated such a dramatic shakeup to the way we live and work. We’ve all been forced to make changes that push us outside of our comfort zone. The beautiful part of it is, that’s where growth occurs—outside of our comfort zone. Even though this shelter-in-place period has felt like an eternity, there are some positive outcomes. 

It’s hard to believe that even with our heavy reliance on technology, it took something so momentous to completely shift our focus to a digital-first workplace. Even after the ‘curve’ flattens, we’ve already experienced changes that we aren’t going to (and can’t) turn back from; remote work being one of the most profound. 

At some point, most companies have had employees raise the idea of remote work. There are companies that have fully embraced it, some have run pilot programs, and others have shied away from remote working entirely. Regardless of where you stood on the topic of remote work, with the current global health crisis, we’ve all been thrown into the ring. 

According to the latest State of Remote Work report, productivity and quality of life see sharp increases when employees are given the freedom to work from anywhere. Great news for those already set up for remote work, but many companies are facing serious delays as they play catch up. And we all know that delays in construction are never a good thing. Those construction programs still managing projects on antiquated systems are facing harsh realities. So now, more than ever, the adoption of a construction management software is no longer a question of if or when, but which one, and how fast can it be implemented. 

All for One And One For All

It goes without saying that all construction management software platforms are NOT created equal. Some focus on certain features, some on company size, and some on a specified user—the most common being general contractor(GC)-focused software. We’ve seen a number of program owners resign themselves to using whatever software their GC prefers. Typically, this isn’t the best idea. We recommend looking for a platform designed for collaboration between ALL parties, especially if you’re an owner. Having a single-source-of-truth for all stakeholders removes confusion and builds trust with your architect, engineer, GC, and home office. If the goal is to smoothly manage construction projects with remote teams, the right software is a must. 

Look To The Cloud

Even though cloud computing has been around for more than twenty years, there are companies still providing a locally hosted solution. With remote work at the forefront of everyone’s mind, an in-house server can work, but isn’t practical. Your clients don’t need additional staff on call just to maintain a server at the office.   

When looking at remote project management, having a cloud-based software should be at the top of your list. At a minimum, you won’t have to worry about the additional server and maintenance costs. But a fully cloud-based system will also serve as the basis where everyone in your program will collaborate. Sure, you can set up an in-house system to do this, but again, you need those dedicated IT resources to manage and maintain it. 

Enterprise-level solutions today leverage the most advanced cloud technology available. Security and updates are handled automatically by the vendor. There’s no need for dedicated IT help. And the reliability of these cloud-based platforms gives your team confidence knowing that they can manage their projects remotely anytime, from anywhere, without an issue.

Mobile-First

Being web-based and having a mobile application are two entirely different things. With the first, you are able to access data from any web browser. This usually comes hand-in-hand with limited functionality. Whereas a dedicated mobile app allows your team seamless access to their project data as well as the ability to interact with it. 

Having a native mobile app is also the key to portability when it comes to remote project management. Without the need to pull out a laptop or be chained to a desk, team members have access to project data at their fingertips. No matter where they are, your team can markup documents, pay invoices, and address pending items right from their device. 

Integrations

Even if your construction management software is mobile, it doesn’t mean the various programs your team is using is integrated. The biggest requirement to running remote projects is the seamless flow of real-time data to all parties. With the right construction management software, project information that needs to be shared with another platform can be done easily and without error. 

For example, when a GC is sitting in a trailer on site and submits a pay app in the software, it should immediately notify the Project Manager. Upon approval, the system should then push those values directly to accounting’s ERP system so the accountant working from home can process the payment for the invoice. No matter where someone is located, the flow of information should be gapless and instantaneous—which saves a ton of time, confusion, and ultimately, money. 

It’s important that the software you select comes equipped with all the integrations your team needs to be successful managing projects from anywhere. 

Workflow Automation

Typically, when a construction program is managed using separate software platforms, it causes a number of costly bottlenecks. From approvals, to RFI response time, to manual data entry, the delays and additional labor really begins to add up. 

With the right construction project management software, these labor-intensive processes will become relics of the past. No longer will your team have approvals sitting unaddressed in their inbox, contractors will spend less time waiting on RFI responses, and your office staff won’t have to spend hours manually entering data into spreadsheets. This will all be handled by the software. 

For remote project management to be effective, automation of manual tasks is a must. For each of these tasks, your software should immediately notify the appropriate stakeholder(s). Let’s use RFIs as an example: As soon as an RFI is submitted, a notification is sent to the designated decision maker. The decision maker can then take action on or route the RFI to the appropriate subject matter expert for immediate response.

In a complete construction management software, this type of automation applies to all areas of your program. Everyone in the construction process will be informed and up to date every step of the way. As an owner, you’ll be able to communicate and collaborate in the context of any project as you monitor, track, and control the flow of information with your dispersed team.  

Collaboration

Communication is a lynchpin for the success of remote project management. This holds true for any organization working remotely, but especially so for construction programs. Plans are being executed based on drawing sets that often go through multiple design iterations. It’s imperative that construction teams are building from the architect’s most recent revisions. 

A proper construction management software will give your team the ability to actively mark changes to drawings or documents simultaneously, right on their mobile devices. From the comfort of their own home, your architect is able to provide real-time drawing clarification for contractors who are on site. In addition, the software will log all changes made, who made the changes, and allow authorized users to revert to previous versions if necessary. 

Centralized discussion forums as well as open Q&A for digital bidding are also critical to ensuring collaboration. Having these channels to share information across teams shields your program from time lost and costly miscommunication errors. The right construction project management software is designed to be the single-source-of-truth for everyone, creating a transparent environment that fosters quick issue resolution.

Reporting

Anyone who’s spent an extended period of time in construction understands the pitfalls that a program can succumb to without proper accountability. After all, if you can’t see how your remote team is progressing, how can you stay on top of your project? Accountability is included by design in well-built construction management software. Since all activities are recorded and audit trails are readily accessible, you know instantly if someone’s not pulling their weight.

Apart from being able to view each and every worker’s task list, owners and their reps can pull milestone status, project data, and other custom reports at any time. This leads to a clear understanding of what balls are in whose court, resulting in peace-of-mind for a project owner. Reports can quickly be programmed to automatically send out to key stakeholders, freeing up teams to run projects without feeling micromanaged. 

Additionally, when managing a large portfolio of projects, it’s absolutely necessary that owners are notified if there are any red flags. With Exceptions Reports and KPIs, the right construction management software will alert owners of any at-risk schedules. This way, if a project does end up running behind schedule, corrective action can be taken before it’s too late. 

In Closing...

It’s easy to overcomplicate the idea of remote work. Sure, with construction, there are a myriad of moving pieces that can shift at any moment. Owner’s need to know they can trust their teams to adapt to these variables while moving projects forward, but they need the right tools to do so. Schedules need to be adhered to. Budgets must be respected. 

Centralized discussion forums as well as open Q&A for digital bidding are also critical to ensuring collaboration. Having these channels to share information across teams shields your program from time lost and costly miscommunication errors. The right construction project management software is designed to be the single-source-of-truth for everyone, creating a transparent environment that fosters quick issue resolution.

Construction project management software has been ready to handle remote work well before this coronavirus pandemic hit. That’s why our clients have had minimal disruption. It’s business as usual for them. They know they can trust the Projectmates system to keep their teams informed and on top of their tasks regardless of where anyone’s ‘office’ may be. 

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