Approval Workflows, Automation, Construction Management Software
Human-Proofing Your Capital Program Processes and Workflows for Success
by Evan Hill | March 15, 2021
Digital innovations in the construction industry can improve collaboration and communication, enabling owners to deliver projects on time and on budget—yet organizations often struggle to reap the benefits.
It’s a common problem: capital program managers seek to adopt project management software, but their teams aren’t prepared to come along for the ride. Adoption of new technology can be challenging for everyone, so it’s important to human-proof your efforts—making sure there’s buy-in from everyone, sufficient support as you make the transition, and a comprehensive vision for getting the most out of your chosen solution.
“If your records aren’t accurate, you create a budget that’s too high and end up reserving funding that could be used elsewhere—or worse yet, the project might never be completed.”
- Siu-Wan Elsie Low, Senior Director of Facilities Design
and Construction at Montefiore Medical Center
Starting from Scratch
If your organization is still operating without a project management system, chances are high that data is fragmented and difficult to access. “I’ve worked in hospitals where they had nothing, and ended up using Excel and emails,” says Siu-Wan Elsie Low, Senior Director of Facilities Design and Construction at Montefiore Medical Center. Having a piecemeal data collection system makes it difficult to keep good financial records. “If your records aren’t accurate, you create a budget that’s too high and end up reserving funding that could be used elsewhere—or worse yet, the project might never be completed.”
The ability to create a budget with accountability and adequate review steps is essential—and it’s something that project management software can provide. “There’s just too much financial risk and complexity to run construction projects from an Excel spreadsheet,” says William Hucks, Chief Operating Officer at ADAMS. “Project management software eliminates opportunities for failure, including unintentional errors. It also gives you the ability to create consistent reporting data and customized reports that are valuable to all your teams.”
Tips for Transition
Choosing a project management software and making the shift to using it can prove challenging, especially for teams that are new to digital solutions. But ultimately, the benefits outweigh initial difficulties. “There’s a human element to adopting a new solution,” says Hucks. “You need to train people and provide leadership and support to make sure everyone is on board.” Taking a slow, limited approach to adoption can ease the transition.
“We see organizations where people insist on adopting every feature at once. They tend to get overwhelmed and frustrated—so my advice would be to start with the features that are easiest to implement and then build on them as you go.”
- William Hucks, Chief Operating Officer at ADAMS
Integration with the existing financial system is often another hurdle. If you’re also introducing a new financial software solution, Hucks recommends doing it at the same time as the project management software so you can build new workflows from the ground up. Also, consider delaying integration with financials. “We chose not to integrate our project management system with our financial system from the start,” says Linda Whitmore, Director of Project Development at University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC). “We wanted to work with the project management system first and make sure we fully understood it before making that link.” So rather than a formal integration, the hospital created a way to receive a daily download of information from the financial system that they could then compare against project management data.
Getting the Most Out of a Project Management Solution
While the benefits of adopting a project management software solution are many, some of the most helpful features might initially seem mundane. For example, document storage is an underrated function that can avert a lot of problems. In e-Builder, document storage is web-based, making it easy to access the latest files from anywhere. “We have a central set of folders where we store the latest drawings, reports, and certification letters,” says Low. “It might seem boring, but when correctly integrated with other processes, document storage is very useful.”
Ultimately, getting the most out of a project management solution starts before you make the choice to switch.
“There are a lot of good systems and they’re all a little different, so it’s important to do your research and talk to references. We ended up choosing e-Builder because we found it to be the most owner-focused, owner-friendly system out there.”
- Linda Whitmore, Director of Project Development at University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC)
Key Topics Covered: Automated workflows, automation, Capital Improvement Program, Capital Program, construction management software, Construction Project Management, Process Improvement, Workflow Management in Construction