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Construction project managers always have their hands full: creating project schedules, assigning tasks to team members, tracking project budgets, organizing project contracts, the list is a long one. To manage their responsibilities effectively, what they need is a construction management tool.
In this buyer's guide, we'll look closely at what a construction management tool does, it's key features, and deployment options.
Here’s what we’ll cover:
Construction management software is used by construction project managers to schedule tasks, improve team coordination, and track expenses to ensure on-time and on-budget delivery of projects.
These solutions help users streamline and simplify various construction project management processes, such as planning the scope of work, tracking tasks to completion, monitoring time employees spend on a project, and maintaining a repository of construction project documents.
Construction management solutions come with two different deployment options: hosted on the vendor’s servers (known as cloud-based or SaaS) or stored locally on the user’s own servers (known as on-premise).
While both of these choices have their advantages and disadvantages, we focus on cloud-based over on-premise solutions. The former is a more obvious choice for small businesses because the up-front costs are lower, implementation is faster, updates are automatic, scalability is easier, and involves no maintenance costs.
Here’s a quick summary of what you can expect with either of these deployment choices:
Cloud-based: You just need to pay a monthly/annual subscription to start using these solutions. Data backup, patchwork and bug fixes, and all other upkeep is managed by the vendor. Essentially, your data will reside on the vendor’s servers.
On-premise: You’ll need to buy the software license by paying a one-time fee. In this case, you'll have exclusive control over your data, however, you’ll also have to take care of hosting the software and managing any upgrades or software issues.
Key questions to ask SaaS vendors:
What security measures do you have in place to protect our data?
What kind of security threats have you faced in the past and how have you dealt with them?
Key questions to ask on-premise solution vendors:
How much time does it take to implement the tool?
Do you have any training material/support resources to facilitate knowledge-transfer, so that my IT team can manage the software on their own?
Construction management solutions come with wide-ranging features, such as project planning/scheduling, project tracking, and document management.
Below are the most common features of these solutions:
Project scheduling/planning: Use tools like Gannt charts and calendars to create project timelines and plan tasks. Understand dependent tasks and constraints that might cause project delays.
Planning and scheduling tasks using a Gantt chart in Buildertrend
Project tracking: Understand the status of tasks (in-progress, pending, completed, etc.) by visualizing them on Kanban dashboards or via summary reports. Ensure smooth completion of tasks by setting-up alerts and notifications and reminding team members when work is assigned to them or when changes are made.
Managing tasks on a Kanban dashboard in Fieldwire
Document management: Store and organize project documents—drawings, markups, site photos, contracts, etc.—in a central repository. Offer team members access to this repository, allowing them to search for files, share existing documents, and upload new ones.
Storing drawings, blueprints, and other documents in BuilderStorm
Job costing: Automate the calculation of labor and material costs required for a project. Track the calculated values against the actual, ongoing project costs by viewing real-time reports on budget utilization.
Tracking project costs in CoConstruct
Timesheet: Allow employees to record the time they spend on different tasks. Filter the timesheet data by project, date, time, budget, type of task, or other parameters to understand what your employees are doing.
Timesheet tracking in Roots Software
Change orders: Creatrally store and track all change orders created throughout a project’s lifecycle. Automatically update project budget reports when a change order is approved and send notifications to relevant stakeholders.
Managing change orders in Procore
Purchase orders: Track project expenses by creating and storing all purchase orders sent to vendors, subcontractors, and other stakeholders over the course of a project's lifecycle.
Handling purchase orders in BuilderStorm
Punch lists: Track all tasks and their successful execution at a jobsite. View reports to understand the specific type of activity undertaken, location (such as room or floor), and the team/individual involved.
Tracking punch lists in PlanGrid
Request for information (RFI) and submittals: Create, organize, and track RFIs and submittals in a centralized repository.
Creating an RFI in eSUB
*Note: The applications selected in this article are examples to show a feature in context, and are not intended as endorsements or recommendations. They’re obtained from sources believed to be reliable at the time of publication.