Construction Project Management, Process Improvement
The Ultimate Construction Software Buyer’s Guide – Part 2
by Carolina Lorenzzetti | September 9, 2020
Part 2: The Rise of Dedicated Solutions
Part 2: The Rise of Dedicated Solutions
A tool built for the job
Automating construction project management
As we’ve seen, spreadsheets—bless them—are not the optimal way to manage capital programs. These weaknesses reach the breaking point under four conditions:
- Budget increase
- More projects
- Pressures to do more with less
- Working remotely
Three events tell you you’ve reached the breaking point:
- Frustration with current processes
- Negative audit findings
- Poor project outcomes
“Poor project outcomes” understates how bad this scenario can be for the project and for a career, but out of mercy, let’s not elaborate.
A new software category
To overcome the shortcomings of spreadsheets, developers got to work on a new category of software that slashes risk and automates mundane tasks. Its most common category name is construction project information management software or PMIS.
Look for the software to have these characteristics:
- Cloud-hosted, software-as-a-service (SaaS)
- Multi-tenant and multi-tiered
- SOC (service organization control) compliant
The best systems are FedRAMP compliant, performing to the standards of the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program.
Construction project management systems integrate with applications such as DocuSign, Microsoft Office and Microsoft SharePoint, and allow users to port data back and forth between spreadsheets and other programs.
In the end, construction project management systems give you the time and information needed to anticipate problems and forecast solutions.
On schedule, within budget
A capital project manager’s essential job is to maintain schedules and preserve budgets. Construction project management software automates essential tasks to manage time and money in ways spreadsheets cannot.
For example, a construction project management platform dramatically improves turnarounds on RFIs, submittals, invoices, applications for payment, change orders, and purchase orders.
A capital project management system knows who a given document needs to go to next. If the item is stuck in the workflow somewhere, you can set the system to escalate that item.
For example, if Mario doesn't approve an invoice within three days, it automatically goes to Lara. If Lara doesn't look at it within two days, it automatically escalates to Link.
Protecting against human error
Project management platforms protect budgets by ensuring data is entered and managed correctly.
Consider change orders. When you become reasonably certain a given change is going to happen, you change its status. The system then automatically moves it from Estimated items to Pending items.
Automation removes the risk that people forget something or fat-finger the data’s entry into its new location.
Other personnel-related benefits include improved compliance, no geographic restriction on talent, and data stay when people leave.
Capital project coordinators and managers spend half their time compiling data for reports. It can take weeks to gather and normalize data from different sources. The resulting reports are outdated upon arrival.
Construction project management systems, on the other hand, generate reports automatically, and with real-time data.
Construction project management software enforces your process. We already mentioned routing. But there are other examples.
For instance, what qualifies a change order as being an emergency change order? The construction project management system makes sure the decision is correct and handled appropriately.
Or consider approvals. The construction project management system ensures the people approving invoices have the authority to approve invoices. (Auditors love to see that, and it’s easy to show them.
Less time doing urgent tasks means more time doing important tasks
Construction project management software saves time in many ways, such as delegating and automating data entry. By freeing time for more important work, the system shifts the ways managers spend their time. Let’s talk about that in the next section.
Construction project management software has come into its own in this century for the many advantages it offers; for instance, it reduces average RFI turnaround times to a week or less.
One category, many names
Software for capital program construction management does many jobs, which may be why it goes by many category names:
- Capital project/program/portfolio management software/system
- Capital planning & portfolio (or project) management software
- Enterprise program management procurement and implementation software
- Program (or project) management information solution, or PMIS
What to look for in construction project management software
- Built for building and infrastructure owners (as opposed to contractors).
- Modular and configurable (which makes it fast to deploy and easy to scale).
Capable of managing cost, funding sources, schedule and scope through the entire project lifecycle, from planning through design and construction to occupancy.
- Enables management of all aspects of cost, schedule, processes, and documentation while still being uncomplicated to use (which is not easy, because software that performs complicated tasks tends to be hard to use).
BONUS POINT: implementation by the software developer (as opposed to a distributor).
- More time for high-priority work
- More visibility
- Improved forecasting
- Easy audits
- Licensing fee
- Conforming to your process
Click here for Part 3 on the Ultimate Construction Software Buyer's Guide.
Key Topics Covered: buyer's guide, construction management software, Process Improvement