Companies today are powered by software. The technology tools that allow firms to organize their data and communicate with internal and external stakeholders determine those businesses’ effectiveness.
In the construction industry, software platforms are required to satisfy industry-specific regulations and requirements, while also complying with universal requirements, such as data security and visibility. The best way to cope with these needs is by deploying data platforms and project management capabilities, purpose-built for construction.
Legacy tools, such as spreadsheets, hold back construction firms from maximizing their productivity and minimizing their risk.
What Makes Construction Companies’ Software Needs Unique?
Construction management differs in important ways from the equivalent processes in other sectors, with contractors facing several unique organizational challenges. Collectively, these challenges increase the need for contractors to use software tools purpose-built for their industry if they want to achieve maximum effectiveness. These differences include:
A project-based approach to personnel and asset use
Every construction job is different, and the run-up to the project beginning involves assigning personnel and assets. When contractors use software tools that have been designed from the ground up for the construction industry, the payroll, accounting and inventory management tasks assigned with project-based management are ingrained parts of the system.
Industry-specific training and certification requirements for project employees
Not only are construction job sites staffed by workers brought in for a particular project, those personnel need to ensure they have certifications and training to legally work in a potentially dangerous environment. When personnel management software is part of a platform built specifically for construction, office stakeholders have access to tools to track employee status and compliance with regulations.
Distinctive and diverse document types
Keeping a construction project on track can revolve around easy access to files such as blueprints and other architectural plans. These documents need to be visible to all relevant stakeholders, both internal personnel and external groups such as subcontractors, architects and regulators. The files should be consistent in their presentation, with every person accessing the plans knowing what version they are seeing. Purpose-built construction software platforms that include drawing management tools – and integrate with specialized industry programs – can help contractors keep their documents in order.
Collaboration between office and field teams
Construction projects are at their best when information flows freely between workers and the job site and stakeholders in the office. Determining an updated schedule for a job, one that compensates for the latest conditions and allows crews to get back on track, is a quicker and more effective process if leadership know what is happening on the job site in real-time. Construction software allows this exchange of information to take place, with workers on the site updating shared files through mobile devices. These personnel have the option of uploading pictures to show the exact status of issues on the site.
Determining an updated schedule for a job is a quicker and more effective process if leadership knows what is happening on the job site in real-time.
What Other Features Should Construction Software Platforms Possess?
In addition to capabilities that reflect contractors’ unique needs, construction software should also offer general high-level functionality. These are the features that are relevant across industries and can deliver efficiency to contractors of all kinds. Construction leaders who upgrade their technology solutions from legacy systems to purpose-built platforms will be able to make use of these process improvements, including:
Effective data analytics
Across all industries and verticals, real-time data analytics has become one of the most powerful tools available to leaders. When decisions are guided by a comprehensive and updated flow of information, businesses can intelligently react to changes in conditions and receive quick feedback on whether their strategies are working. In construction, the data involved may include finances, inventory, personnel utilization and more.
Centralized data access
Working from a “single source of truth” is a common goal for companies today. This means deploying an enterprise resource management platform that is accessible by all relevant stakeholders, no matter what location they’re logging in from. While the construction sector adds the extra wrinkle of the split between the job site and the office, universal data access keeps teams on task and in communication across all industries. The alternative – stakeholders sending files back and forth by email and entering content into spreadsheets – comes with the inefficiency of multiple data entry and a risk of human error causing inaccuracies.
Scalability and growth potential
Great software deployments don’t just generate efficiencies that help companies grow – they scale up alongside those organizations, so IT departments don’t have to buy a replacement tool within the next few years. Web-based tools that can handle any level of capacity and complexity are valuable for companies planning to grow. In the construction industry, this may mean running many more active job sites at once, expanding across geographic borders or both.
Web-based tools that can handle any level of capacity and complexity are valuable for companies planning to grow.
Why Should Contractors Update Their IT As Soon As Possible?
When contractor firms keep legacy software tools in place, they are maintaining inefficient practices and holding themselves back from the potential advantages of truly purpose-built deployments. Emailing files back and forth will only become more difficult to keep up with as the organization begins more projects. It’s best to update to a new project management system soon, one that will be more capable both immediately and in the future.
Every party involved in a construction project can benefit from the new tech tools. Clients will appreciate how much more responsively the contractor can communicate, as well as the accurate and comprehensive records of meeting minutes, plans and other files that are accessible on demand. Field teams, now able to give and receive updates in real-time, will be able to get their jobs done more effectively. Office staff will gain a level of control that goes beyond what is possible with legacy software.
The ideal construction system for companies’ needs will offer comprehensive modules for multiple departments to use, while also offering integration with other tech tools, as well as with common communications methods, such as email. Despite the challenges and short term costs of upgrading to a new, purpose-built platform, contractors often wonder why they waited so long.