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Program and portfolio management software helps building owners and construction managers coordinate their management of capital projects. These managers are focused on applying a uniform set of standards for project control and building standards (i.e., LEED certification) to a large portfolio of construction projects. Of course, standards and processes may change over time, requiring a flexible program management system. While detailed task management will often be left to general contractors, building owners and construction managers will want to maintain a single view of progress across all projects using a purpose-built program management system.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
Capital program management refers to the supervision over the vast amount of information associated with capital construction projects. Distinct from generic project management utilities, capital program and portfolio management software is geared to meet the needs of building owner/operators and construction managers, rather than contractors, architects or engineers. To that end, it tends to focus less on scheduling and hands-on details, and more on the broad-level overview of the projects and the portfolio cycles.
Capital program management software may include bid management, takeoff or cost estimating capabilities, but more likely it will have some or all of the following critical features to facilitate portfolio management: document control, tracking of multiple projects, reporting, communication between managers and contractors, work order and inventory management and—depending on the needs of the user—accounting and/or customer relationship management.
Because there are dozens of different vendors that specialize in program management software, and costs and functionality vary tremendously, it’s important to identify your individual needs in order to narrow the field. One way to do this is to identify yourself as a certain type of buyer based on the functions you’re performing. Most buyers fall into one of these groups:
Before looking at the details of various systems, identify yourself with one of the buyer types outlined below. Most buyers fall into one of these groups:
Full suite. These buyers will be using the software across all levels of their company, from the owner through all the management offices and possibly including the field contractors as well. Because they’re sharing data between multiple different job functions, they need something that’s highly robust and integrates all of the different features a construction company would need.
Building owners. Building owners want quick access for an update on the status of all projects, as well as reporting, and other portfolio management capabilities.
Construction managers. Since construction managers are interfacing directly with contractors, project scheduling becomes more important, as well as the ability to share information between collaborators on a project. The software is also more likely to include features for construction takeoff and estimating.
Office managers and accountants. The accountants and administrators of a construction company, will want a solution that includes inventory, budgeting, payroll and ledger control specifically designed for the construction industry. This is a highly competitive market within the program management field.
Customer relationship managers. Although CRM typically focuses on the sales and marketing side of customer interfacing, these solutions may also include customer service capabilities, including the ability to accept and process work orders from the customers.
Although the following list does not include all of the software vendors working in the capital program and portfolio management space, these top-rated programs will be a good fit for the indicated buyers.
|This type of buyer...||Should evaluate these systems|
|Full suite||HeadsUp iCPM, Sage Project Lifecycle Management, Maxwell Systems, Paskr Project Management Suite|
|Building owner||HeadsUp iCPM, Sage Project Lifecycle Management, e-Builder, Oracle Primavera, PMWeb, Prolog, VisionPM, EADOC, Aconex, Proliance|
|Construction manager||Maxwell Systems, HeadsUp iCPM, Paskr Project Management Suite, BuilderTREND, Oracle Primavera, BuildTools, Procore, Sage Project Lifecycle Management, PMWeb|
|Office manager/ accountant||JOBPOWER, Microsoft Dynamics, Sage, Budgetrac Real Estate Developer, COINS, SAP CREW All In One, Profitool|
|Customer relationship manager||Contractor's Office, Microsoft Dynamics, Sage SalesLogix, Sales 1440, MSI Service Pro, BlueFolder|
These market trends should be considered as you select a software product and vendor.
Business intelligence. Program management systems do more than simply recording action items and finances. Leveraging the lessons learned over hundreds of projects to standardize the management and distribution of information, leading capital program management software now often provides key insight into the performance of the firm and its projects.
Process automation. Any repetitive and time-consuming processes can often be expedited through automation, leaving the employees to work on more creative endeavors to improve business performance. Examples of potentially automated processes include budgeting, payroll, scheduling, reporting and management of certain kinds of documents.
Software as a service. Almost all construction programs are moving from on-site solutions toward Web-based programs charging a monthly or annual fee rather than a full software purchase or installation cost. This helps amortize the expense over time and eliminates the need for internal staff to manage any technical support, upgrades or updates.
Improved offerings from full-suite vendors. Best-of-breed vendors offer deep feature sets in a specialized area, while integrated suites provide seamless connection among many applications. In the past, buyers have had to choose between one or the other, but in recent years, a number of full-suite vendors are upgrading their software so that they can compete against best-of-breed solutions in specialty functionality areas.
Capital program management software is designed for large companies that manage multiple projects simultaneously. These programs offer a number of benefits:
Better visibility. The biggest benefit of top capital program management software is the ability to see all of the data needed in order to manage the portfolio. Information is easily tracked and kept all in one place so it can be viewed and reported on with minimal effort.
Improved collaboration. Portfolio visibility, as well as scheduling and inventory management, requires managers to consider phases, tasks, resources and labor. This leads to more thoughtful planning and faster project completion by removing bottlenecks and wasted inventory.
Better project management. Compared to an on-site software solution, a Web-based construction management program will be far less expensive in terms of up-front costs. SaaS also eliminates the need for an IT infrastructure to manage upgrades and to get the product up and running when problems arise.
Improved profitability. More effectively scheduling and tracking resources and project status reduces costs on equipment rentals, resource sharing and the time spent to manage projects, which cuts expenses, increases time available for sales activities and overall increasing profits.
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