All You Need to Know about Construction Business Project Management Software

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Why would you consider project management software for construction? One, many of these are more affordable than your averaged construction management system; and two, project management software is the better choice should you have other non-construction projects.

Construction companies have specific project management requirements that the industry has spawned its own vertical software. This type of application has specific features like field-to-office coordination, time & material billing, estimating and project information modeling.

But it’s not to say project management solutions can’t handle construction. In fact, some of them  can and go by the name “construction business project management software.” They have been proven to mimic construction management features, on top of their project management features like activity feed, task management, boards and reporting.

In this guide, we’ll cover all the bases about construction business project management software including the key features to consider, the top solutions for this crossover scenario and a little background on the roles of construction managers and project managers, the better you can put into context your requirements vis-a-vis software functionalities.

Differences in the Responsibilities of a Project Manager and Construction Manager

These two positions cannot be used interchangeably because there are key differences in their roles.

A project manager’s duty is to represent the tenant through the construction process and they are involved in site selection and budgeting as well as move-in and support. The project manager (PM) actually manages the construction manager (CM) and also engineers, architects, and vendors involved in the project.

The CM’s work starts after the pre-construction phase starts and they are involved only till the end of building work.

Main Duties of a Project Manager

The PM’s work starts with site selection and they are involved right through to occupancy of the building. Their primary tasks include:

  1. Site selection: Apart from the broker, the PM also helps in the site selection procedure as they test for potential spaces, offer schedules and budgets to compare several spaces, and help you know the TI (tenant improvement) you need to add to the lease.
  2. Design procedure: This is a key task of the PM who assists with design discovery, bidding, and design approval. They’ll coordinate the work of the vendors and ensure you are able to build the right office space for your company.
  3. Bids and permitting: The PM guides you in the vendor selection and permitting processes. During this pre-construction period, they look into construction drawings, permits, and selection of the CM and general contractor.
  4. Construction: During construction, the PM performs the role of point of contact and directly manages all the vendors and contractors. To ensure the project is completed on time and budget, they carry out regular site inspections and also give you progress updates. On top of that, the PM coordinates all punch list items and FF&E installations.
  5. Delivery: After the construction process, most vendors’ work ends. However, the PM stays on and helps you coordinate your move-in as well as with any issues you may face in building occupancy.

Main Duties of a Construction Manager

The CM’s work starts during the bids and permitting stage and they are actively involved throughout the construction phases. They are in charge of the construction site and report to the project manager directly. Their tasks include supervising:

  1. Contractors and subcontractors: The CM puts together a squad of contractors and subcontractors.
  2. Construction budget: Once the budget is finalized by the tenant and PM, the CM is given the task of administering it.
  3. Work orders: If a change is required or a concern comes up, the CM has to provide a solution and submit a work order to the tenant and PM for approval.
  4. Code compliance: Finally, the CM has to ensure that all elements of the construction are compliant with building codes.

To sum up, a CM supervises all construction activities and reports to the PM. The PM has greater project responsibilities as they oversee more than construction procedures and therefore supervises the work of a CM. While their roles are different, both PM and CM need to work closely to ensure the project’s successful completion.

12 Key Project Management Features for Construction Companies

We have listed here a dozen of key features that will help you direct your construction project on to a successful path. Aside from construction management systems, the list throws in a few project management software that can handle complex projects like residential, commercial and even industrial construction.

Project management tools are actually just a part of the features needed by construction companies (source: businessdbbuilder.com)

1. Estimating

An estimating tool is essential as construction project managers need to operate within the set budget to stay profitable. The construction business project management software should assist you to make higher price bids and bolster them with integrated scheduling and benchmarking. Besides, the estimating tool should integrate with your enterprise resource planning (ERP) system to enable you to deliver accurate estimates based on your company’s timeline and capabilities.

2. Project Information Modeling

Most construction projects are complex, extend for lengthy periods, and involve a number of stakeholders. Over time, the data drawings and models of the project accumulate. You need to make good use of this increasing data repository during project implementation to find actionable insights. Project information modeling, also known as design data management, helps here as it provides built-in reporting and analytics tools to help you easily share business info and models between leadership, finance, and operations.

3. Accounting and Cost Management

Most construction PM solutions offer basic benchmarking and budgeting functionality. Robust cost management modules include forecasting and estimating to give you a clear overview of project financials. This enables you to manage and track these details to avoid surprises. Cost management is an essential feature if your enterprise manages accounting in-house. Excel spreadsheets are a handicap here as you cannot share updated files with other users or access data from the field. The answer is to opt for a construction PM solution that provides accounting features that help you to track billing, invoicing, payroll, and budgets, and view your cash flow any time. In addition, you’ll be able to choose various forecast methods based on item type utilizing performance goals and trends stored in the platform.

4. Field Management

It’s difficult for project managers to supervise field work at multiple locations. The software assists here by offering field execution and management tools to help you create and share daily task plans, communicate with team members, and collect the results data after each shift. Advanced solutions can even enable you to remain compliant by maintaining inspection forms, and streamlining the process for quality, safety, and equipment inspections.

5. Actionable Analytics

Select a construction PM software that assists you to review data and get operable insights to enhance your processes. The tool should provide reporting functionalities that present insight into your asset utilization and productivity. You should be able to track resources and measure the value gained by monitoring processes using a cost and schedule method. This enables you to get strategic insight, and improve your performance and productivity. For instance, if you have worker shortage, you’d be able to spot it more quickly and take immediate action.

6. Project Communication and Collaboration

A robust construction PM application assists you to collaborate with internal stakeholders as well as other project stakeholders. You can improve efficiency by collaborating efficiently with designers, subcontractors, owners and other involved entities, and capture all project info in a single pane of glass.

7. Reporting and Dashboarding

Reporting tools offer data and insight on more than just profitability. They help you to take into account metrics such as partner/industry/contract diversification, executive level trend data, resource allocations, and more.

8. Profitability

It is essential to understand true profitability as you can utilize the info to alter the course of a project, task, day, or month. Plus, it can provide you data based on your focus markets. Builders need to learn what kinds of projects are successful for them and which markets offer the best chances of making profits.

9. Content Management

You can manage all project info in a single pane of glass by capturing all details in a single, secure platform. To start, it is easy to gather project documents, contracts, and drawings in a single repository. But you need to go beyond this and also collect images, safety data, COs, and RFIs in the solution, and share them effortlessly with involved parties.

10. Time and Productivity Tracking

You’d be able to better understand profitability if you get accurate and regular field data. Therefore, the construction project management tool should allow you to capture field data easily. You can facilitate this by structuring the project and the related cost book in a manner that enables you to capture and measure granular data. Single buckets of time and resources will not provide useful data.

11. Planning and Scheduling

Efficient scheduling ensures the project progresses as per the planned timeline. You should be able to task external entities with items to ensure the project is on track. Plus, the solution should be flexible to accommodate changes and modifications in project schedules and milestones downstream. Leverage the schedule properly to ensure all parties are accountable. Provide all project stakeholders visibility into the schedule to avoid misunderstanding and confusion.

12. Integration

Seamless integration with other software systems offers numerous benefits. To start, you can eliminate the human element as well as the need for double entry, and facilitate data integrity. This enables you to reallocate resources more meaningfully and also obtain back office efficiencies. Second, you can bring data together externally and internally to enhance communication. This means you can give stakeholders the capability to see how the project is progressing schedule-wise and financially. Finally, you can provide management the ability to learn why a project is failing or succeeding at any point of time.

How to Select the Right Construction Business Project Management Software

Start with this article to get detailed background info on construction management software before you embark on the process of selecting a suitable solution for your needs. The platform should help you efficiently perform tasks such as project scheduling, planning, cost management, vendor management, and more. Look for a cloud-based tool that offers the following mandatory features:

  • Dashboards
  • Email alerts
  • Gantt charts
  • Mobile app
  • Online file storage
  • Resource allocation & management
  • Task lists
  • Team scheduling
  • Timesheets

An online Gantt chart is an important tool you should look for as it offers a visual timeline for your project. Plus, it enables you to easily edit construction project schedules as you can simply drag and drop items to change a task’s deadline. A Gantt chart with task dependencies helps you to automatically link dependent tasks such as steel delivery with the building phase. This way, everyone can stay updated on the different aspects and phases of the project.

Resource management and team scheduling functionalities assist you to chart the skill set, availability, allocation, and cost of your workforce as well as construction supplies in real-time. You can also track employees’ workload and make calendars to manage their hours productively. Plus, you can track other resources and their expenses like construction equipment rentals.

Timesheets help you manage your team members’ hours as they can update them quickly from wherever they work – in the office or field. Managers can review and approve them instantly or send notifications via automated emails if timesheets or due.

The multiple vendors you use for your construction project can be managed at anytime, from anywhere, with a cloud-based software. They can deliver updates from the field and you can track their progress as well as performance and costs. Besides, cloud-hosted construction software provide unlimited storage space for your documents. You can attach these documents as required to any task or communication, and monitor updates to the files.

In short, the construction industry needs a solution that can be used for basic project planning, reporting, and monitoring, and which also has the power to scale to meet the demands of executing complex construction projects. This will give you the ability to control and track the progress of all phases of the project up to its successful completion.

Now, let’s take a look at 15 leading construction project management software platforms and the specific features each tool offers for users in the construction industry:

1. Wrike

Construction industry users such as surveyors can utilize Wrike features for automatic date and time stamp audit trails, file storage and revision tracking, and time tracking features. This enables construction companies to save money and time through improved documentation and efficiency. In addition, they can get more tasks done per day which will give them a big advantage over their competitors.

You can easily sign up for a Wrike free trial here and get to know the features firsthand at no cost and without commitment.

2. Monday.com

Monday.com benefits indicate the software is a godsend for construction professionals as it enables them to effectively manage construction projects, people, and time. Construction projects can be successful when all team members are properly aligned. They should be apprised of the bigger plan, exact dates, and the costs of delay. Monday.com helps you achieve this as you can easily communicate a simple plan with your team and inform them what needs to be done, by when it should be done, and who’s in charge of which task.

An appealing test drive of all software features is available to you when you sign up for a Monday.com free trial here.

3. Smartsheet

An analysis of  Smartsheet details shows the app enables construction companies to improve project accountability and efficiency by streamlining documentation and communication which helps to boost safety and revenues. This work management solution is used by numerous big construction enterprises to document all project steps, communicate effectively, and enhance productivity. You can boost your field operations by saving time with proficient resource management, improving collaboration between project teams, clients, and vendors, capturing concerns in real-time, and resolving them promptly.

4. ProjectManager

ProjectManager.com features offer all that you to require to plan, schedule, and execute construction projects from beginning to completion. The software is affordable and easy to use, and you can access this 100% online project management software from the back office or field. With ProjectManager, you can schedule field workers using resource management tools, plan projects with Gantt charts and task lists, and track planned versus actual progress. In addition, you can create punch lists and subtasks, and collaborate with and manage field teams.

5. Microsoft Project

Microsoft Project reviews indicate that it is an effective tool for cost control and scheduling. It’s a communication platform that gives project managers a road map for project execution. They can use it to minimize cost overruns and manage deadlines easily. MS Project helps project managers plan, schedule, and track projects by effectively utilizing resources such as people, money, time, and equipment. The solution improves construction business management with updated info such as current financial data and project status.

6. Scoro

An analysis of Scoro pros and cons shows that it is an all-in-one solution that streamlines construction management. You can track project info on a real-time dashboard that shows financial, team, and project data. This cloud-hosted platform allows you to work from anywhere and you can take needed data to the construction site, and share files and images with the office. Structure your work by planning and scheduling tasks efficiently, managing your contact base effectively, and make vital files accessible in the cloud. Scoro also scores over its competitors because of its top notch reporting capabilities.

7. Zoho Projects

Zoho Projects overview indicates it is an ideal application for managing construction projects as well as following up on agreements and operative tasks. The software is easy to understand and use. This cloud-based tool ensures important files are never misplaced or lost and its audit trails functionality helps to find who changed a document. With Zoho Projects, you can track suppliers and materials acquired for construction work. The platform helps in fast issue resolution, arranging on-site inspections, and documenting progress.

8. Trello

A study of Trello benefits shows it is a good fit for construction project management. The software utilizes the Kanban paradigm for project management, which was popularly used by Toyota for supply chain management. Trello offers numerous scrum add-ons to improve the construction working environment. It can be utilized for construction CPM schedule generation. Trello’s agile framework and construction-oriented functionality provide many direct benefits to the industry.

9. Celoxis

A review of Celoxis details indicates it can help construction project managers in three key areas: The first is collaborative document management that enables project managers to digitally share the current version of all documents. Second, Celoxis aids task management and empowers project managers to keep track of all the tasks they oversee and perform. Third is vendor/customer relationship management as the software is a secure storehouse of vendor or customer interactions. You can log all phone, email, and other interactions for ready reference later.

10. Podio

Collaboration software Podio is a great tool for construction financial management. It helps construction managers save plenty of time spent on financial details and utilize that time effectively at the construction site. You can use a Podio webform to receive change orders which ensures there is no confusion about when and where a change order was submitted. Plus, you can accept or decline change orders and notify the construction firm automatically about this. Other advantages are you can allow the site owner to view exact financials any time, and create and send updates easily to them.

11. Bitrix24

Project management software Bitrix24 is a highly customizable platform that also allows you to work in the cloud and use mobile devices. Plus, it offers great fine-tuning capabilities. In the construction industry, users can program all the tasks needed to build a house in Bitrix 24. Then, you can combine these jobs into a single algorithm. Use filters to track tasks for each worker as well as overdue tasks. You can also track supplier delays and delays at particular construction sites. Finally, you can store current project documentation in the cloud and ensure all workers have instant access to the latest version of the files.

12. Office Timeline

Office Timeline features show it is an easy-to-use PowerPoint project scheduling tool that you can use to create construction schedules to make presentations. You can utilize this solution to quickly create a construction schedule which instantly updates based on changes in project progress. In addition, the software seamlessly integrates with other project scheduling products like Microsoft Project which facilitates fast importing of existing data that can be instantly converted into a construction schedule presentation.

13. Teamwork

Teamwork reviews reveal the software helps construction companies with effective team communication and in tracking project progress. The product gives users the ability to view all project info on one screen, review progress and tasks, and keep management informed without having to email them about each development. It reduces your workload while enhancing accountability and transparency among your teams. The highlight is Teamwork Projects allows all your subcontractors and employees working in various locations to view real-time project information. In addition, you can provide secure access to authorized parties via single sign-on.

14. Microsoft Dynamics SL

An analysis of Microsoft Dynamics SL pros and cons shows it is a powerful business management application for the construction sector. It helps with labor management and procurement as it provides decision making, financial tracking, and operational activity monitoring solutions. Next, it facilitates billing management at it permits you to create, view, maintain adjust all billing details in progress invoices. Finally, Dynamics SL provides project managers online access to real-time project info to empower them to easily perform calculations and reporting tasks.

15. Exepron

Exepron overview reveals the vendor offers project management software for engineering, architectural, and construction companies. The solution can integrate the availability of subcontractors with your company’s needs to accurately maintain the master schedule. It helps construction firms coordinate activities while managing risk. Exepron is a robust planning, scheduling, and execution tool for construction projects that facilitates mobile, real-time collaboration for effective onsite performance and vital decision making.

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