Construction Management Software
Jobsites are where a construction business owner makes, or loses, money. Construction project managers need to control the physical site and monitor the jobsite work performed vs plan. Otherwise, they risk falling behind schedule and degrading profit targets for any number of reasons: suppliers, staffing, work quality, subcontractors, incidents, change requests, weather, etc. But even today, construction management software (CMS) data is not accessible to the jobsite managers — supervisors, project managers, and safety — who need it.
The purely manual processes that many contractors use to manage jobsites make it nearly impossible to see if a project is going awry before profitability is lost. This is especially true in a project’s early stages, when subcontractor delays or understaffing can kill a schedule barely after it begins. Why? Because using manual methods, the majority of jobsite management data is either trapped on paper, or within a supervisor’s head, or buried in an application which is not integrated with core systems.
Strategically, the industry must improve its productivity, in part because of a generational shortage of skilled workers. The financial crisis of 2008 suppressed workforce development, and the industry has never caught up. Boomer retirements and immigration suppression have now made the experienced talent shortage a crisis. While increased hiring and training programs will help, productivity improvements via automation are critically needed. Where will this automation come from?
The answers include software, robotics, pre-fabrication, and process improvements. Now is the time to adopt digital at the jobsite to improve productivity, efficiency and safety. Jobsite data should be easily available by all who need it. And there’s good news: Jobsite data is now easier than ever to capture using software that is more affordable than ever.
Construction Management Software for the Jobsite
Is it possible to have software that corresponds to every jobsite activity? Believe it or not, it’s true. Creating construction management software is easier than ever with today’s mobile, cloud and internet connected networks. The global construction market is immense, and so has attracted many vendors. Here’s a list of generally available software products that automate or enhance various jobsite activities:
- Project Management
- Safety / Risk Management
- Safety Check-in and Daily Logs
- Schedule / Task Notifications
- Service Requests
- Equipment Management
- Collaboration / Communications
- Service Requests
- Inspection / Progress / Visual Capture
- Document Management and Sharing
- Building / Design / Information Management
- Workforce Development / Training
- Timecard / HR
- And likely many more that escapes me at the moment!
All of the above can be purchased as either point solutions which solve one particular business problem, or as part of a platform solution which combines some or all of the above via integration. Point solutions have lower nominal cost, and are often best for individual project needs. Platforms are purchased for core functions across the entire firm, such as accounting, HR or project management/ERP, but they require enterprise level investment with a business case spread out over years, increasing both project and headquarters overhead.
Jobsite Software Must Be Easy to Use
The most common field device is a mobile phone, but small screens and complex software are like oil and water. Not everyone can work in the trailer on a desktop or laptop. Weather, multiple languages, PPE and other jobsite conditions can get in the way. The KISS (keep it simple stupid) principle must apply!
The more functions a product has, the more complexity is introduced. Complexity requires learning new terminology, user training and daily screen time, all which detracts from building. Field engineers who spend most of their day running software and entering data drive up overhead costs that eat at profits. Complex software may do more and be very valuable, but at a prohibitive cost. Not all products will be usable in your building specialty, your workforce or your company culture. Remember, software that is never used is the most expensive software of all. Ease of use is crucial.