Identifying all of the features your construction company needs in an all-in-one construction project management software can be quite a daunting task.
Are you looking for a web-based construction software that's accessible from any browser or mobile device? Do you need bid management or financial management features?
As the years go by, technology continues to weave itself into our lives, whether we like it or not.
Cloud-based construction management software enables workers to update project information while out in the field.
Advancements to mobile technology move the construction industry ever faster, providing access to the information you need, in real-time, right at your fingertips.
Each construction firm's project planning differs depending on its size and the trade they specialize in. Plumbing contractors' needs vary from those of home builders and remodelers.
This article outlines features and tools businesses commonly seek when looking for the right construction business management software for their needs.
Hopefully, by the end of this article, you'll better understand the various features available, helping you choose the best software solution for your business.
By the end of this article, you should understand what construction software is and if construction management software will meet all of your business needs.
Listing out all of the things you want construction software to fulfill within your company can significantly speed up your research process.
For example, you may need software that possesses pre-sale features (also called pre-construction features) to track leads and generate estimates.
It can be overwhelming to think of all of the different tools and features needed within your business. Don't worry if you can't think of all of them right now. Write down what comes to mind, and then continue reading. You'll discover other ways construction software can help your business as this article goes through the most essential features companies need in construction software.
Pre-sales, or pre-construction features, are just as they sound: Before the sale has been made and before construction begins.
Pre-sale and pre-construction features help builders and contractors acquire prospective customers and convert them to paying clients, thus winning the job.
These construction tools help small business owners streamline their sales processes, win more jobs, and boost revenue.
Here are a few features to look for if you want lead tracking in your software solution:
Source Tracking: Tracking where leads come from (social media, PPC, walk-in, cold-call, etc.) is important to determine what marketing strategy is currently working best for you.
Conversion Probability: Conversion probability is determined by employing intuition after the conversations are held with the prospective client. Are they ready to start today, or are they evaluating their options? Knowing this can help you focus your resources and close more sales!
Estimated Revenue: How much revenue could this lead bring in for my company? Is the job worth my time?
Job cost estimating is vital to all businesses in the construction industry. Underestimate a fixed cost job, and you'll lose money on it. Overestimate a proposal and lose the prospect. Estimates can make or break you.
Handing a detailed, accurate, and professional-looking proposal to a prospective client goes a long way to closing the sale.
Make sure your estimating software solution includes the following:
Exports to a printable PDF.
Automatically have specs & selections included when generating proposals.
Ability to do both fixed-price jobs and open-book projects.
Construction bidding software helps bid managers automate and streamline the contract tendering process.
An efficient workflow reduces turnaround time when responding to RFP's (Request's for Proposal), helping to make a good impression.
Construction bid management software should include:
Send an RFB (Request's for Bid) to multiple subcontractors, suppliers/vendors
Automatically attach necessary preliminaries for bidders, such as project specifications, photos, site plans, and other documents required to properly bid the job.
Project management features help businesses of all sizes manage their projects.
As your business grows, having the right construction project management tools to balance the project management triangle (aka Iron Triangle) can be critical to your success.
Project specifications are one of the three components of the project management triangle.
Creating project specification templates in Excel or Google sheets is a common practice in the construction industry. However, they have some problems.
Custom home builders often copy information from previous plans to help bootstrap their next project. Subcontractors copy line items from one project to the next, changing the wording as necessary. Not only is this time consuming, but it is very prone to human error.
Collaborating with others through email often causes numerous versions of specification sheets to get created. Information gets scatter between versions, and nobody has real-time access to the latest specs & selections, slowing progress.
Building specifications that are lost or mixed up in email exchanges and paint colors hidden in text messages is inefficient.
Construction software helps you collaborate with others without duplicating spreadsheets through email and copy-pasting.
Here are a few benefits of using construction specification management software:
Real-time access to the latest project specifications.
Collaborate directly on specs and selections with team members, clients, and trade partners.
Organize individual spec details, budgets, and spec timelines.
Budgeting is the 2nd component of the triple constraint in project management.
Project managers often use construction project budget templates created in Google Sheets or Excel to anticipate the funds required to complete the project.
For the same reasons listed in the specification section above, collaborating on project budgets using spreadsheets and MS Word docs often results in multiple versions when exchanged through email. While this is doable, it can quickly become an inefficiency nightmare.
Having a single location to manage project specifications, schedules, and budgets in real-time is where construction software really shines.
Here are a couple of benefits to look for when choosing the best construction budgeting tools for you:
Instant access to the latest budget changes lets you compare original construction budgets to actual costs (sometimes referred to as budget actuals).
Compartmentalized budget's organized by their respective specification.
Create reusable construction budget specification templates. These give the ability to instantly scaffold an entire project to use as your baseline.
The importance of cloud-based scheduling software in the construction industry, and the importance of scheduling in project management, cannot be overstated to project management professionals.
Both commercial construction project managers and residential construction project managers can attest to the chaos of managing a construction schedule.
What to look for when evaluating the best construction scheduling software to run your crew:
Does the construction management software have Gantt chart tools to visualize project timelines and run critical path analysis?
Can you create printable PDF punch lists of task assignments to hand to your construction crew members?
View all construction project schedules together to find and eliminate scheduling problems.
Filter schedules by day, week, month, and project.
Filter tasks by status, employee, and project.
Kanban board with drag and drop kanban cards.
Ability to share the project schedule with clients.
With so much paperwork surrounding a project, having a sound construction document management system is crucial to anyone's sanity.
Each construction companies document management process will vary depending on their size and trade.
Here are a few key features to help you pick the best construction project document management solution for your projects:
The ability to share plans, photos, videos, and other files with clients, trade partners, team members.
Access documents on mobile devices while you're out of the office.
Store documentation for an extended amount of time after a project is complete.
Construction daily log reporting software is helpful in many ways.
Construction crew members can add field notes to work logs, instantly informing others when a task is complete. Project managers can refer to them to satisfy client and stakeholders' interests, keeping them in the loop, and feeling involved.
Reviewing job reports helps find delays due to missed deliveries and weather events, helping construction managers adjust their schedules to maintain project deadlines.
Construction daily reports are also a great place to keep track of safety meetings.
Here are some quality of life features to look for in your construction software solutions daily job log tools:
Ability to share notes with clients.
Track weather, theft, and accidents, and safety meetings.
Allow crew members to contribute notes to the daily construction journal.
Construction financial management features help builders and contractors create financial plans for construction projects and track the cash flow throughout the project's lifecycle.
Construction job costing software streamlines the process of tracking labor, materials, and other overhead costs for each project, giving insight into budgeting future projects!
Picking the best construction job costing software will depend on the size and complexing of your particular company.
Here are a few things to look for in construction job cost tracking software:
Purchase Orders to help track committed costs and prevent unwanted spending.
Change Orders to manage those customers who are always wanting more out of you.
Bill Tracking - Keep track of how much is owed on a purchase order or how many trips back to the home improvement store you made.
Financial Reports - View a breakdown of each category's costs to see where the money is going.
Construction time clock software helps manage worker time cards on the job site.
Collecting weekly timesheets gets old, much less collecting a torn-off piece of cardboard with employee hours written on it or pages torn out of a notebook.
Ditch the paper time card sheets and switch to digital time cards!
Features to look for in your time tracking app:
Assign hours to projects.
Review and accept submitted hours.
GPS Tracking - Track where crew members clock in and out.
Developing healthy relationships with customers is critical to the success of a business.
Information dispersed throughout emails and text messages is frustrating, and when customers have multiple projects, it only gets worse.
Customer management features help keep discussions organized and relevant to the topic.
Different construction business software implements customer management in a variety of ways.
These features optimize your workflow to create stronger relationships and repeat customers, helping grow your revenue.
Customer relationship management software gets complex. And often, you don't need all of those features. It's also costly!
Depending on your specific needs, picking good construction business software could be an adequate replacement for a full-blown CRM. Here are a few things you may seek from a CRM system in construction software:
Manage a project's warranty phase after completion.
Clients with a warranty can log in through a customer portal and submit warranty requests inside the app.
Clients can make spec selections through the client portal on their own time.
Communicate with clients on specifications and client selections directly in the app.
Share files, photos, schedules, and more with clients.
Do you need multi-user, tiered access for employees from your construction application?
Does this software fit within my budget?
What is the learning curve cost to this product?
Does this software fit within my budget?
What about ease-of-use? We can't forget about the possible deployment challenges of choosing a complex software solution. What is the cost of training your team to use the new system?
Suppose you decide to go with one of the larger, more complex software solutions out there that include a particular feature you think you might need. Will the extra time and effort spent training everyone to use a more complex system outweigh the added price tag? After all, many construction management software providers will most definitely charge a premium for each additional feature. Is that feature worth the added cost?
With dozens of features to consider and dozens of software solutions available, choosing construction software to manage your business is not a simple task.
Hopefully, this article has helped you on your journey to choosing the best construction software for your business.