A lot of construction firms still rely on whiteboards, paper forms, and spreadsheets to manage their teams and jobs.
But this old way of doing things is inefficient and hurts the bottom line (along with your ability to compete). It can't keep up with today’s complex challenges like labor shortages, rising costs, and the pandemic.
There’s more pressure than ever to upgrade manual processes into digital solutions like construction management software so you can gain considerable time and cost savings.
What is Construction Management Software?
To complete a job, a manager or leader must coordinate multiple people, materials, and equipment, while also staying in control of budget, schedules, and quality. But construction management software replaces your usual manual processes with a set of digital tools that centralize and track all information and tasks across your jobs. This helps you save time, reduce errors, and improve profitability.
Benefits of Construction Management Software
Upgrading to a digital solution can be a game-changer. It takes all your different data points and combines them into a “single source of truth”— which means you can quickly learn the status of your jobs and make smarter decisions on the fly.
For example, imagine if a worker calls in sick, leaving one of your work sites short of a necessary certification. An automated push notification can alert you right away to reassign a new worker in their place.
That’s just one way of how software can help. Here’s how else digitization can level up your job management.
1. Improve Efficiency with Real-time Updates Between the Field and Back Office
Wouldn’t it be helpful if data recorded in the field were relayed back to your office before the end of the day?
Managers need to know what’s happening out on job sites, even when they’re not physically there. Otherwise, you’re stuck wasting time waiting on important information to arrive via email or paper.
With management software, your site workers can use custom apps to collect data in the field and automatically sync to a custom dashboard that's visible to managers.
Story from the Field: Mall City Mechanical recently used their custom-built Manpower App to quickly locate a worker after an on-job injury. With a real-time view of their current projects and crew members involved, it saved them the usual 20+ phone calls back and forth when responding to the incident and filing the claim.
Real-time alerts can speed up reaction times and minimize costly mistakes from miscommunication.
2. Easily Monitor Your Crews and Work Sites with Digital Tools
One of the challenges you face every day is getting the right people, tools and equipment to a job site when needed. There are a few ways that software can help:
Your management system can make your schedule by matching each worker’s availability and certifications with a list of sites and projects. Further, it can even assign the right equipment and tools at the site.
Story from the Field: Contractor Andy J. Egan designed their scheduling dashboard JobPointe like an ESPN draft day screen. Now their custom drag-and-drop job board helps them schedule over 300 different workers– and they no longer worry about risking hefty fines for having the wrong people without the right certifications on a job site.
The problem with paper is that it’s easy to lose—like records of a change order that no one seems to remember. Another crucial benefit of construction management software is that it can digitize and store all of your usual documents.
With tagging, you can make your docs easy to search and access for things like records of safety training, certifications and licenses, and safety-modification documents.
Digital tools like mobile apps can keep your crews safe while on the job by:
- Prompting and collecting information for on-site injuries and incidents to report back to managers; instead, of paper filings sitting in a truck for weeks.
- Pushing out required training like Toolbox Talks
- Tracking and storing training requirement and compliance docs
- Displaying inspection and audit reports in an interactive dashboard
3. Integration into Accounting Systems and More
Most construction firms use a handful of different systems to run their business. The problem is that your systems don’t always have a sufficient way to “talk to each other” or pass data. You then waste hours on manual entry, spreadsheets, and workarounds to move the data through or generate reports.
For example, collecting time sheets for hundreds of workers is often a headache for finance teams. One team member ends up copying and pasting information from one source to the next while under a tight deadline to get pay stubs out every week.
But system integration can automate a process like time entry for payroll. A custom mobile app can collect time entries out in the field and sync it back to an accounting system. You can ditch the paper and save your finance team hours every week from manual data entry.
This is just one example of the benefits of data integration. Many systems like ERPs, HR, payroll, CRM, accounting and more have the capability to integrate into your construction management software. To do so though, you might need to work with a software development partner that understands APIs (or how systems pass data with each other).
Learn more about how you can use integration to connect your systems (even legacy ones) and build automated workflows, reports, and dashboards,
4. Improve Decision Making with Custom Reports and Dashboards
There’s a good reason why many of the features and tools above mention dashboards.
Dashboards and reports can give you a single location to view your KPIs in real time. Through automation and logic, you can aggregate all your job data from various sources into a visual story that clearly shows the progress and status of your jobs.
The best part? Digital dashboards are “always on” — collecting, organizing, and presenting insights into how your business is operating at any moment. Managers and other stakeholders can easily spot either positive trends or ones that pose a risk. Any needed changes can be quickly pinpointed and deployed.
A great example is when a firm builds a custom dashboard that reports on required tasks and statuses for each phase of a job and data is getting pushed and pulled from your core systems (like Procore).
5. Win More Work With Better Estimates
Another (often unexpected) advantage of construction management software is that it can help you win more bids, faster.
You can use all the collected data from previous projects—what the conditions were, how long the project took, labor and equipment needs and material costs—to build better estimates, without risking low margins. And you can quickly pull these relevant data points together, instead of spending hours combing through backlogs.
Why Successful Business Build Custom Construction Management Software
With benefits like these, it’s no surprise that there’s been an explosion of construction management software solutions hitting the market in the last few years.
With so many moving parts, managers and owners need a better way to control their operations and keep projects on time and under budget. And in this competitive industry, digitization can be the difference between winning or losing a job.
But that doesn’t mean that all software solutions out there are created equal.
As you evaluate different solutions, you’ll find that most of them are off-the-shelf (or SaaS) solutions. They’re designed to meet the needs of the mass market, but at a cost to their users.
Common shortcomings of off-the-shelf solutions:
- Limits customizations (features need to serve as many customers as possible)
- Difficult or confusing to use, especially for those not tech-savvy
- Lack of training from vendors or support when something breaks
- Hidden or rising costs over time
- Lack of deep integration into other systems as needed
While trying to serve as many customers as possible, off-the-shelf software can force you to fit your business within its software's limitations.
That’s problematic in an industry like construction. Universal software can’t possibly account for all the unique variables in every firm (like your custom job codes).
That’s why forward-thinking firms have opted for a better approach– building custom construction software that meets your needs exactly.
Main advantages of building custom software:
- Customization / flexibility – Freedom and ability to build software features exactly as you need
- User adoption – Your team’s individual needs drive the design of screen and features, ensuring adoption
- Scalability – Product scales as you grow; only build features when you need them
- ROI – Choose and prioritize solving your pain points with the biggest impact on your business and bottom line
- Technology partner – Work with a true software development partner that aligns your business goals with the solution, instead of a vendor serving thousands of others
Custom Construction Management Software Puts You Ahead
Imagine your projects running smoothly – as you head off problems before they occur and take advantage of opportunities you miss while putting out fires. The collective benefits of custom construction management software can help save your team time and make your jobs more profitable.
At SPARK, we’ve seen firsthand that those who have successfully embraced new technologies have found themselves able to compete for and win larger projects (even surprising their competition!).
Want to talk with a construction-savvy software expert? Reach out to SPARK, we’re happy to talk through your ideas and see how software can help meet your business goals.