Construction PM Quick Summary
Construction management software helps contractors manage the entire build process, from scheduling to tracking worker to-dos and punch lists to client billing. These tools provide firms with the appropriate oversight and document control required to monitor requests for information (RFIs), change orders and purchase orders so they can adhere to project budgets and timelines.
Benefits of Construction PM Software
Adopting construction project management (PM) software can benefit your firm in several ways, including:
Improved accountability. Document control capabilities help minimize liability by creating a virtual paper trail for plans, RFIs, change orders, submittals etc. All documentation is stored in a centralized repository with tracking and version control, so all parties know when something is added or updated.
Financial visibility. With a budgeting and cost control module in place, managers can track actual costs relative to estimates, and set up notifications to alert them if a project is in danger of exceeding the budget. If the system is integrated to accounting and job costing systems, the data will be even more accurate and offer increasingly valuable financial insights over time.
Improved collaboration. Because most construction PM systems are online, team members can collaborate even when not at the job site. Parties can review and markup plans, submit RFIs and receive responses and execute a change order—on the web and all in real-time.
Competitive Advantages of Using Construction PM Software
Firms that implement and make use of these systems can gain the following competitive advantages:
Scale your business. Most firms start out using manual methods—pen and paper or spreadsheets—to track projects, but eventually reach a breaking point. Either they take on more jobs, hire more people or they suffer a claim or a lawsuit from a mistake that could have been prevented. Construction PM software offers a more disciplined approach to managing projects and people.
Operate more efficiently. If you had a way to standardize processes on job sites, reduce confusion around change orders and track purchase orders and job costs, why wouldn't you use it? Construction PM software can offer this and more, helping your firm adhere to regulations and streamline communications among workers and clients. With access to a centralized repository of pictures, blueprints, punch lists and other job documentation, you can make operations more efficient and cut down on costly mistakes.
Increase the number of jobs completed on time and on budget. One of the greatest advantages these systems offer is increased visibility into estimated versus actual project costs. This transparency can help you adhere to budgets and schedules and alert managers and executives when projects are in danger of exceeding those benchmarks. Ultimately, these tools help firms complete more projects on time and on budget.
Business Sizes Using Construction PM Software
Your construction PM software purchase will be heavily influenced by your size of business, your tech maturity and availability of IT resources, as well as your demographic segment (i.e., job title and responsibility).
Business size and IT resources generally break down as follows:
Single user: Less than $1 million in annual revenue. This is likely a small, family firm with no IT department and a single software user.
Small business buyer: $50 million or less in annual revenue; 2-100 employees; likely no IT department; requiring 2-10 software user licenses.
Midsize buyer: $100 million or less in annual revenue, 2-100 employees; IT department; 11-100 user licenses.
Midsize - enterprise buyer: $100 million+ in annual revenue, 100+ employees, IT department; 100+ user licenses.
Most construction PM software buyers fall into one of the following groups:
General contractors. These buyers are looking for robust functionality that will help them track costs, manage documents and in many cases, schedule projects. Project managers at these GCs will seek best-of-breed solutions, while C-level executives may push for integrated construction management and accounting suites.
Building owners. These buyers manage a portfolio of capital projects, and keep tabs on the timing and costs of all projects in in aggregate. They seek best-of-breed and portfolio management systems that enforce accountability for all parties, while encouraging collaboration over the web.
Independent construction managers. Construction managers require advanced construction project software functionality that includes budgeting, costing and document control. However, smaller managers may not have the resources to deploy enterprise class construction PM systems. These buyers will do well with Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) systems or independent desktop licenses.
Subcontractors. These buyers approach managing projects from the standpoint of maximizing their crew's performance while minimizing liability. This requires subcontractor project management software with scheduling functionality to make sure the right crew is on the right job at the right time. Document control is critical for tracking change orders, transmittals, RFIs and other documents.
Software Related to Construction PM
"Construction software" refers to a class of applications that help firms manage the entire project lifecycle, from pre-sale through the actual build process and onto final billing. Increasingly, firms are looking to purchase an integrated software suite to help them manage this entire process.
However, if you choose to use a best-of-breed construction PM system, you'll need to know about the software related to this process to ensure each system can integrate and transfer data between applications.
Takeoff: Takeoff is a pre-sale process in which the estimator measures construction plans (blueprints and drawings) to determine the amount of materials and labor required for a job. Takeoff software is commonly sold as a standalone application or grouped together with estimating. It is less common to find takeoff within a construction PM tool.
Estimating: Another pre-sale process, estimating software is used to calculate the costs for the material and labor takeoff, and then produce detailed bid proposals from those estimates. Sold either as a standalone system or grouped with takeoff, it's less common for estimating to be included within a construction PM system. Unless, of course, each application is included as part of a comprehensive, integrated suite.
Bid management: Bid management, wherein a contractor solicits bids from subcontractors and suppliers before submitting a job quote to a building owner, is a process that in part bridges the gap between pre-sale and project management. As such, bidding can be found as an application within many construction PM systems or can be purchased as a standalone software.
Accounting: Construction accounting software helps firms manage their job costing, core accounting, fixed asset accounting and payroll. It's common to find some job costing and budgeting in construction PM software; however, if the PM systems you're evaluating don't offer core accounting, you should look for integrations with general accounting systems, such as QuickBooks or Xero.