Project managers at construction firms have a lot of details to keep up with — from running meetings to tracking change orders and managing the budget. To help manage large crews and multiple projects without missing a beat, construction project managers should consider using construction management software.
Construction project management software keeps important details and tasks organized in one place, so every project can move forward on time and on budget. They also help team members and stakeholders collaborate and communicate along the way.
Before you make a purchase, sit down with your buying group and decide what, exactly, you’re looking for in a solution. What kinds of construction projects do you handle, and what construction project management software features would help your teams work more efficiently?
If you’re considering investing in construction management software, you should look for a tool that offers the following essential features:
In most cases, an estimating tool is the number one feature sought by general contractors looking for construction management software. That makes sense, considering that operating within a budget is one of the most important success factors of construction projects. At the same time, you want to make money and stay profitable. Look for construction project management software that helps your construction managers deliver higher price bids and back them up with benchmarking and integrated scheduling. Gantt charts can also help you stay on budget with improved project planning. Some tools may even integrate with construction ERP software or construction accounting software, to provide more accurate estimates based on your outfit’s capabilities and timeline.
2. Project Information Modeling
Most projects in the construction industry are highly complex, involve numerous stakeholders, have hundreds of individual tasks, and span long periods of time. Over time, the data models and drawings associated with the project pile up. It’s important to have the ability to draw from this expanding repository of data at any point during the project lifecycle and find the insight you need. Some vendors may also refer to project information modeling as “design data management.” Look for construction project management software features that help you easily share models and business information between operations, finance, and leadership, with built-in analytics and reporting. You’ll also need a document management feature to keep reports and relevant information in one place.
3. Cost Management and Accounting
Nearly every construction project management software will offer basic budgeting and benchmarking capabilities. However, a more robust cost management solution will include estimating and forecasting to give you an overall picture of each project’s financials. When you can effectively track and manage these details, you minimize the chance of surprises. This is also a must-have feature if your construction company handles accounting in-house. Excel spreadsheets are great for tracking costs and payroll, but it’s not always easy to access important data from the field or share up-to-date files with other key decision-makers.
Most PM software for the construction industry includes accounting capabilities that let you track budgets, payroll, invoicing, and billing so you can see your cash flow at a glance, and the document management feature makes reports easy to access. Ideally, you’ll be able to select different forecast methods based on the type of item, using performance trends and goals stored in the same system.
4. Field Management
As job sites start to add up, it can be difficult for a project manager in the construction industry to oversee fieldwork at every location. Look for construction project management software that offers field management and execution features to help the contractor foreman create and communicate daily project plans, keep in touch with crew members, assign tasks, improve scheduling, and capture the results of the workday at the end of each shift. Some construction software can even help your construction business stay compliant by managing inspection forms and streamlining the process for equipment, safety, and quality inspections.
5. Actionable Data Analytics
Most construction project management software will help you organize your workflow, keep track of client communications, and manage projects. But if you want the most bang for your buck, find construction software that contains a document management feature and will make it easy to review data in order to improve your processes. Some tools offer reporting features that will give you insight into your productivity and inventory management. You may be able to monitor resources and measure earned value by tracking processes on a cost and schedule basis. This can help you increase productivity, improve performance and scheduling, and enable strategic insight. If you have a labor shortage (a serious problem for most construction projects), you can spot it faster and take action immediately.
Best construction management software with these features
While knowing which features you need from construction management software is half the battle, it’s not always easy to tell which tools have those features. To make your search easier, each of the following construction project management software solutions includes the features we’ve listed above.
- Penta Construction Management Software
- Sage 300 Construction and Real Estate
- Zoho Projects
- Contractors Software Group
- Microsoft Project
Choosing project management construction software is difficult, especially when there are so many options on the market. Large and small businesses have different needs, and not every construction management tool will work for both. If you are searching for the best construction management software and you’re not sure these options are right for you, check out our Product Selection Tool or contact one of our trusted Technology Advisors for free. After answering a few questions about your business, you’ll get a customized list of construction project management software recommendations.
Megan Pacella is a software writer specializing in project management, and sales. She has also written for USA Today, Bearings Guide, 10Best Nashville, and other publications.