PM Tool Needs for Building and Construction Firms

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Construction projects are very complex in terms of coordination of people, equipment, and materials – and doing so within a budget, timeline, and quality constraints.  The best PM tools for managing construction projects and portfolios of construction projects within a construction company need to emphasize communication and collaboration.  The nature of construction is that it is planned in an office and executed in the field – so coordinating across those venues is the challenge.  This article looks at the key features that are needed to do it effectively. 

This is the third part of a series of four articles on “PM Software by Industry”, where we explore the variation in needs and implementations of project management software solutions based on industry.  This article, Part 3 in the series, focuses on the “Building and Construction” industry, providing a survey of the software feature needs of this large and unique market segment and the types of software products that support.  Part 1 looks at the “Digital Marketing and Creative” industry and the specific operational needs of firms engaged in digital marketing and creative work, and how specific software features support those needs.  Part 2, looking at the “Professional Services” industry, looks at the specific operational needs of professional services firms and how targeted software applications are delivering against these needs.  Finally, Part 4, on the “Software Development” industry, dives into the process needs and supporting software for better enabling those that develop software applications.   

The two key words for successful operations in building and construction are communication and collaboration.  Here are eight key feature areas needed in effective PM software tools for achieving successful operations by improving communication and collaboration: 

  1. Field and Office:  Bridging the communications between office (planning) and field (executing) is critical.  Systems enable collection of daily progress, communication via photos, time tracking, change orders, and many other transmittals. 
  2. Drawings:  Drawings and specifications are constant reference points, and they also often change.  Maintaining a consistent repository for them that can be easily referenced by all parties involved is crucial. 
  3. Issues:  Without recording and sharing, issues are lost – and not addressed.  A system is needed for collecting all design and operations issues in one place – and tracking their status. 
  4. Bidding:  This is the construction ‘sales’ function and it is very technical, involved, and time-consuming.  A good system enables bidders to decrease bidding time by searching history of previous bids, reviewing costs on prior projects, identifying needed subcontractors, managing documents for bidding into bid packages, tracking bid submittals, and more. 
  5. Email communications – Inboxes fill up quickly, and having a way to retrieve project-specific communications is very useful.  Effective systems combine the convenience and control of users having their own email files with tracking and access to emails that are project-specific – and accessible in one place. 
  6. Meetings:  Many decisions are made in formal and informal meetings – and these need to be recorded for future reference.  A good system enables for easy recording and retrieval of such meeting discussions and decisions. 
  7. Punch lists:  Short task lists are used throughout a construction project, and enabling the storing and sharing of such lists in a central location keeps everyone ‘on the same page’. 
  8. Schedule:  Schedules are central to construction project success, and will vary in degree of sophistication needed.  There are a variety of tools, and the system should provide a tool as part of the program, or enable integration with more robust tools powered just for scheduling.  It is helpful to then be able to depict the schedule by calendar, person, and status. 

Can you see the unique PM software tool needs for construction firms?

This Post is Part of the Series: PM Software by Industry

This series of four articles looks at the many variations and implementations of PM tools based on industry.

  1. PM Tool Needs for Digital Marketing and Creative Firm
  2. PM Tool Needs for Professional Services Firms
  3. PM Tool Needs for Building and Construction Firms
  4. PM Tool Needs for Software Development Firms