If you work in construction, you know the nature of the industry is changing. Profit margins are down, complexity is up, and the need to optimize every task is at an all-time high. In the UK alone, 50 of the top 100 construction companies report that their profit margins have dipped.
Why? Increasing advancements in building and engineering techniques, the rising cost of labor and materials, a progressively urbane workforce, and higher expectations and demands from the new generation of clients make it harder to compete and be profitable in the construction industry.
The stakes have never been higher to deliver on your clients’ goals, keep your prices low, and get it all done on time.
Growing Complexity = More Data
If you have been in the industry longer than 10 years, you may have noticed that project teams have been expanding to include members from diverse organizations, all required to gather project data and process it in a well-ordered environment. That’s why many of the current building schemes are at higher risk of exceeding budget and becoming problematic in the future.
Simply put, contractors are giving and receiving more project details (data) than ever before. As we get more access to data, work flow processes, and deeper insights into other key elements of the construction world, it becomes impossible for any one person to handle that much data on their own. When all aspects of the building process are linked, driving down costs can seem overwhelming. That’s especially true if you’re using the software and solutions of yesterday. Using software to interpret this information and a skilled project manager to make sense of the information is ultimately the answer.
The Future of Construction Project Management
As the construction industry matures further into the 21st century, rigorous analysis of this data is necessary to save time and money. Drawing practical insight from project and materials data will be the difference between the construction companies that grow and those that struggle. Think about it, the ripple effect of any small error during the planning phases of a building project can have catastrophic effects down the line. If you can discover these root causes before problems surface, you can improve all subsequent projects with the same logic.
Most construction companies are averse to changing entire processes overnight. The fear is that change will cause chaos within the company and within projects. How do you gain better control of your building process without shaking the scene to a breaking point?
Slow Change from the Top Down
The simple answer is to start changing the way business is done now and slowly adopt new project management software. Change needs to come from leadership and include clearly defined goals. Once a strategy is set and the roll out begins, it’s up to the rest of the organization to adopt the change. This comes after lots of training and setting clear expectations for how a new solution will affect your company.
Adopting better project management software — or possible your first centralized system — is a huge decision, and you should weigh your options carefully. The following is an overview of 12 signs it’s time for your construction company to move towards adopting better software. If several of these points leap off the screen, you might want to consider starting your search early.
- You often find out about issues or delays on the worksite too late, resulting in major delays.
- It’s unclear how to communicate between the job site and the office.
- Members of the project are forced to rely on documents that are unfinished, inaccurate or out-of-date.
- No one seems to remember who worked on what part of the project.
- There’s no uniform way to verify completed work.
- You have no easy way to chart if you’re ahead or behind schedule.
- There’s no way to show a client your progress outside of an Excel spreadsheet.
- There’s no way to alert everyone involved on a task or project.
- Specific details of projects are spread out across different software platforms.
- You keep missing key milestones in project schedules, but can’t figure out why.
- You keep incurring extra costs or running over budget.
- There’s no audit trail to trace issues back to a specific worker.
In the event that you can relate to all of the instances above, you’re long overdue for a better examination of construction project management software. How do you decide which platform to choose? As you compare solutions, consider the following factors:
Onboarding: Can you take your existing projects and move them into the new system quickly to avoid losing time during the transition?
Integration: Can you pull in other products and work with different solutions for unique products? Is there an open API to integrate other systems?
Intuitive Platform: Some construction software products are so esoteric that only its creators really know how to use it. The platform should be straightforward and easy to figure out with little guidance.
Price: Just because a solution is the most expensive on the market doesn’t mean it’s the best. Then again, we’ve all seen “you get what you pay for” play out. Make sure you understand how the pricing structure works and if it’s based on projects, yearly company license, or per user.
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There are dozens of different factors that will influence how you choose the best construction project management software, so stay diligent and open-minded. While this process can be somewhat frustrating, remember that you’re ultimately positioning your company for success by gaining better control of projects, timelines, and delivery.
This article was written by Taylor Ryan, head of marketing and project management expert at Geniebelt.