Originally published on cmicglobal.com
Construction management software designed to reflect the actual industry conditions and unique challenges facing contractors today can deliver functionality that more general tools, especially outdated legacy systems, simply can’t.
Choosing a construction management software solution that runs on a web-based single database platform is a way for contractors to improve numerous areas of their operations, linking all these functions together to promote efficiency and cost-effectiveness in everyday workflows.
Contractors in the process of expanding their operations will find plenty of potential value in choosing modern software purpose-built for their needs. The complexities that come with taking on additional projects can prove overwhelming for firms being held back by unoptimized software infrastructure.
Many of the key problems facing construction industry companies – the need for greater data visibility and transparency, complicated communications with internal and external stakeholders, the lost efficiency that comes from outdated information – can all be addressed simultaneously with the right construction management software suite. By integrating this new central management tool with whatever systems aren’t replaced can ensure the company’s data environment is cohesive and allows day-to-day processes to reach maximum efficiency.
What are the essential components of Construction Management Software?
Companies that implement new software may make use of some of these capabilities or all of them. The exact setup preferred by a given organization will reflect that business’s requirements based on its function within the industry, its scale and its existing tech infrastructure. Each functional area delivers unique value and is worth considering.
One of the key features of modern financial software for the construction industry is integration with other modules.
Financials and accounting
In terms of financial needs, construction isn’t just another industry. Facing industry-specific requirements in both accounts receivable and accounts payable, contractors need purpose-built software that allows them to easily manage the complex transaction types that define their space. Real-time reports that reflect all financial activity and accurate records of past transactions are helpful whether companies are ensuring regulatory compliance or forming a budget based on past and present financial performance.
One of the key features of modern financial software for the construction industry is integration with other modules. Real-time data from human capital management, asset management and other functions feeds into financial reports and analysis for maximum accuracy and actionability. Equipped with this rich informational resource, companies can optimize their cash flow, strengthen their ability to win new projects and improve their bond with vendors. The centralized data is kept securely, with on-demand access for approved stakeholders.
Corporate risk management
Risk management in the construction industry means using accurate and current enterprise data to ensure the organization is on the right track – and in compliance with all applicable regulations at the local, state and federal levels. Risk should be factored into any company’s financial outlook and predictions, and integrating these capabilities with functions such as accounting modules and centralized data storage is a way to optimize the value of these calculations.
When determining risk and ensuring compliance, construction stakeholders have to perform more in-depth investigations than in many other industries. The unique conditions that come with employing workers on a project-based basis and exposing them to a construction site environment, combined with the complex contract relationships between contracting firms and their clients and subcontractors, introduce new factors that must be considered. Software purpose-built for the construction industry is better suited to parsing these complexities than general tools would be.
Human capital management & payroll
Contractors hire employees on a project basis, then have to meet regulatory requirements affirming that those workers are qualified to work safely on job sites. This introduces challenges to human resources operations that would be more straightforward in a traditional office environment. Storing up-to-date employee records and making essential data accessible to stakeholders who need it is a job for purpose-built human capital management software.
Tracking employees’ shifts and expense reports becomes simpler when contractors use a software tool specifically designed for use in the construction industry. By integrating this module with a single source of data truth and other modules such as financials and accounting, stakeholders can manage their payroll more efficiently, with reduced need for duplicate data entry and less chance of human error leading to inaccuracies.
Asset & equipment management
Between permanent assets such as buildings and the equipment needed for each project, contractors have numerous items to track. Inventory control, reactive and proactive maintenance scheduling, work order management and procurement can all become more efficient if these functions are handled through a purpose-built software module that works with the same central source of data truth as the organization’s other tech tools.
This connected, centralized data is an essential part of working with assets efficiently and effectively.
This connected, centralized data is an essential part of working with assets efficiently and effectively. Changes to inventory will immediately be reflected in budget calculations and stakeholders in the field or the office can call up the status and location of particular items on demand. Procurement, performance and budgeting can all become more efficient, effective and accurate when there is real-time data regarding all of a company’s various assets.
Scheduling, forecasting and resource allocation can all be improved when a contractor uses an enterprise planning tool connected to a single source of data truth. Such a centralized approach to planning allows stakeholders to base both their projections and their decisions on accurate, up-to-date facts, with no need for duplicate data entry or risk of outdated content weakening the results.
A modern enterprise planning module can help an organization create both day-to-day schedules and long-term financial projections.
Generating assignments, either for personnel or equipment, is an essential function that may improve drastically when fueled by real-time data. A modern enterprise planning module can help an organization create both day-to-day schedules and long-term financial projections, with direct input from and output to other essential modules such as finances and accounting.
Enterprise content management
The information stored and used by a construction company takes many forms, with specialized data types such as architectural plans and blueprints sitting alongside in-depth email communications between internal and external stakeholders, alongside safety inspection reports and other data required for regulatory compliance. Each project comes with its own vast trove of data, and adding more active jobs will only cause this content to multiply.
Contractors can tame their data chaos by using the enterprise content management features of a centralized construction management software platform. In some cases, the files required for a project will be associated with a third-party software tool such as Kofax, DocuSign, PlanGird, BlueBeam, AutoDesk or Oracle/Textura. By using construction management software that integrates with these and other legacy systems, stakeholders can ensure important information doesn’t go unaccounted for.
Construction project management & collaboration
Due to the amount of stakeholders who need to collaborate on a given construction project, there should be a centralized way to organize communications. Clients, architects, subcontractors and internal teams in the field and in the office all need to have their voices heard. Construction management software with collaboration capabilities can organize the many conversations occurring through diverse communication methods and enable the sharing of essential documents.
When every piece of information is accessible through a centralized system, with the ability to mark up files directly and view version histories for these items, personnel in the field can understand the exact status of a project, while decision-makers at any location can track the progress of operations, making changes and course correct as needed. From bid packages to closeout documents, every piece of communication and collateral related to a project is visible and accessible to the stakeholders who need it.
High-level control over workflows is one of the most important capabilities for contractor decision-makers to have. When project control features are integrated with other tech modules, working from a single source of data truth, it’s possible to organize every element of a project, including subcontractor operations. Bidding and procurement also benefit from the introduction of more automation and integration with tech tools such as financials and accounting.
Stakeholders responsible for cost, revenue and budget management benefit from having a powerful set of technology tools at their command. Project controls that allow leaders to set up different cost philosophies and target appropriate regulatory standards for the nature and location of each project can make the budgeting process quick and seamless. Every relevant variable, from time spent to expenses and supplier and capital costs, is automatically taken into account in budgeting, billing and invoicing.
Mobile capabilities and system access
One of the most pressing requirements facing construction leaders is the need to have an open link with personnel working on the job site. Receiving real-time data from stakeholders in the field and sending time-sensitive messages to those teams can drastically improve the efficiency of a project, allowing managers to course-correct or make adjustments more quickly than if they had to wait for periodic updates.
Effective, web-based construction management software can use mobile interfaces to enable personnel to access the system from anywhere.
Effective, web-based construction management software can use mobile interfaces to enable personnel to access the system from anywhere. This brings stakeholders on the job site into the loop. When using such a system, it’s a simple matter to enter data on the status of a project, update a punch list or even add photos that reflect the conditions in the field. Equipped with this data, personnel back at the office can make informed decisions about the direction of the project and share their updated documents with the teams on the job site.
What kinds of contractors should use Construction Management Software?
There are no limits to the kinds of contractor firms that can make effective use of construction management software. The primary benefits of the systems – seamless real-time data access across locations and a general reduction in manual, error-prone data entry operations – are relevant for contractors of all specialties and sizes.
Large-scale companies that operate internationally and have multiple job sites active at once will appreciate the ability to centralize their many documents and real-time communications through multiple channels. Furthermore, the ability to customize cost philosophies based on conditions across regions can help these organizations quickly and efficiently adapt to a particular project’s demands.
Smaller, family-owned contractors will also find value in improving their construction management systems. Independent firms operating on tight profit margins and seeking opportunities for growth will appreciate the ability to build their efficiency and ensure every employee’s time is being used on value-adding tasks rather than manual data entry.
The scalability inherent to web-based construction management software ensures that small and medium-sized contractors intent on expanding the scope of their operations won’t have to find replacement technology tools when they achieve their goals. The same user-friendly data management solutions that work today will continue to provide value as the organizations take on new contracts.
The operational rhythms of the construction industry – entailing operations and workforces that scale up and down on project timetables, as well as ever-changing regulations to comply with – demand specially designed software. Rather than taking time and effort making more general enterprise systems work for them, contractors can gain a head start on their path to value by selecting purpose-built construction management software.
No matter your role within the construction industry, your company can boost its potential for growth by selecting the right technology tools for the job. Designed to be a secure, accessible and efficient way to unite the documents and workflows behind construction companies, the CMiC platform can deliver this path to profits.
Your firm needs a platform such as CMiC, one that will support all departments’ efforts to become more intentional and data-driven, and that will grow with the business as it ramps back up. To learn more about the CMiC platform and its suite of construction-focused modules, visit our resource center