If you're wondering whether your architecture firm should immediately invest in new technologies such as virtual reality (VR)and 3D printing, you're not alone.
A study from the American Institute of Architects reveals that architecture firms see the potential for emerging technologies to transform their profession. However, for most of them, improving day-to-day operations by focusing on more immediate issues is a more pressing need.
Architecture firms that want to see tangible operational improvements would be better off introducing a project management solution before adopting emerging tech like VR. With the right project management software, architects can drastically reduce the time they spend searching for project-related information and communicating with project stakeholders.
But, to make the right software choice, architecture firms need to carefully evaluate options for their features, deployments, integrations, etc. We've put together this buyers guide to help interested buyers make informed decisions.
Here's what we'll cover
What is architecture project management software?
Common features of architecture project management software
What type of buyer are you?
What is project management software for architects?
Architecture project management software is software that helps architects, engineers, and construction managers manage projects and improve project planning, budget tracking, employee time tracking, and team collaboration.
A key capability of this type of software is document management, which allows users to create a repository of important documents, such as site drawings, blueprints, and project proposals, to be shared with clients, contractors, and other stakeholders.
Managing contracts and documents in RedTeam
Common features of project management software for architects
Architecture project management software provides many general project management features such as project scheduling, task management, timesheet tracking, and document management, that are designed for the specific needs of an architecture firm. Here, we'll look at these features more closely.
||Create task deadlines, view task dependencies using Gantt charts, and visualize this information in a calendar view.
||Assign tasks to team members and track task status on a dashboard, e.g., in-progress, completed, or pending.
||Communicate with team members via shared workspaces and offer feedback on tasks.
||Track the time your team members spend on project tasks and related activities.
||Create a searchable repository of project documents and files.
||Create a project budget and track estimated versus actual project expenses.
|Billing and invoicing
||Track payments received from clients or made to vendors and suppliers and create invoices.
What type of buyer are you?
The need for project management software varies depending on whether you're a small or midsize firm or a large business.
- Small and midsize firms (100 employees or fewer): These buyers are chiefly concerned about price and thus, should opt for cloud-based solutions. Since the vendor takes care of software hosting, maintenance, and updates, these solutions require lower upfront investment and usually involve a monthly or annual subscription.
- Large businesses (more than 100 employees): These buyers will benefit from a full-featured project management solution that will meet their diverse needs. Since larger businesses work on many concurrent projects, they'll need project portfolio management capabilities. This buyer segment generally has an existing software base to support different business functions, so integration is also an important factor.
Let's look at the top three considerations when purchasing architecture project management software:
- Integrations: You may already be using other tools, or perhaps you're planning to purchase a customer relationship management (CRM) solution to handle your growing customer base or an accounting solution to manage your expanding financial needs, for example. In either case, integration is an important factor. Integration of your project management software with other tools will ensure smoother data transfer between these systems.
- Mobile accessibility: Many project management software vendors offer native mobile apps (iOS and Android), or at least a mobile responsive interface for their software solutions. These apps or interfaces allow architects to use the software on-the-go and capture or share project-related information from their mobile devices. For instance, using a mobile phone's camera, crew members can upload photos of a construction site, allowing architects to validate construction against the designs.
- Total cost of software: Figuring out the total cost of a project management solution is not as simple as looking at its license fee or subscription cost. You need to confirm whether and how a vendor charges for additional services, such as priority phone support, training, and data migration.
Note: The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.