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By Jeff Wing
March 29, 2017
When project management software first showed up on the jobsite, the smirks and eye-rolling were an accepted part of the rollout. Convincing the rank and file was (and to a lesser extent still is) a challenge. You’ve been a GC for 30 years, and you’ve watched men and women build massive skyscraping structures from the ground up, and practically with their bare hands. When someone excitedly tells you the future of construction now dwells in a Cloud, that’s a tough sell.
But the SaaS model (Software as a Service) came along to make the case even easier to accept. SaaS rolled all the processes into one integrated subscriber package that put the joys and efficiencies of software at the company’s disposal while removing the hardware maintenance hassles.
Even now that construction has begun to truly accept the mobile revolution, a reported 52% of companies are still using pen and paper to carry out basic project management processes; the productivity-killing data entry work construction software was invented to abolish in the first place. So why is the #2 pencil so hard for construction to give up?
The fact is, the change has already happened. The ROI of project management software is becoming self-evident. How many minutes a day, or hours a week can be saved by using a full suite of integrated, cloud-based project management tools? Get out a pencil and add them up.
Looking all over the office for a hardcopy document or drawing? Spending 11-hour days on that series of bids you have due? The minutes and hours pile on, as do the hourly wages of the people doing the work, and that includes you. In the case of a bid, haste truly makes waste.
A software suite that includes a digitized bidding tool that is both streamlined and hyper-detailed is going to take your hours of staring and scribbling, and roll them into an easy to use itemized cost cruncher that is accurate and fast. ROI? The time saved not having to reinvent the wheel every time you bid = found money you can spend looking for other clients.
Likewise, digital drawings and plans represent fairly staggering resource savings as measured against the traditional blueprint model. According to one report, the combined blueprint output of the country’s repro houses is conservatively estimated at 37,800,000 blueprints every year, at a cost of some 42,000 trees. So the efficiencies sought by the software’s designers reach beyond cost savings on any given construction project. A software-enabled project management culture that has at its heart the mission of leaner building and less wasteful practices––it becomes a matter of the job site sharing the benefits of these smart choices with the wider world.
Construction has largely bounced back from the Great Recession of 2008, and the bounce seems to be gaining momentum, in some area more than others. Residential building remains the engine that is driving the recovery. How much this has to do with the sector’s increasing embrace of project management software is unclear, but we can say that the software subscription model (SaaS) has encouraged more construction companies to take the leap and realize the benefits.
SaaS has gone to great lengths to consolidate the gains made in this era of software-centered project management. SaaS service providers are now actively building popular legacy best-of-class software solutions into their platforms and integrating them with their existing tool suites. Cloud-based accounting, bidding, customer relationship management, scheduling -- specialized project management tools are being folded into the already existing SaaS offerings and offered to prospective customers as broad, fully integrated tool sets that lack for nothing.
Mobile tech has changed the once-tech-skeptical construction jobsite into a digitally assisted workplace. Workflows are now managed in a secure Cloud environment that compels collaboration. The modern day, collaborative cloud-based job site puts all the players in synchronous touch with each other, and with their interlocking project tasks, day or night, wherever they may be. This transparency all but knocks down the scheduling miscommunications that once led to delays and overruns.
Construction software was once the uninvited guest on the jobsite. Now that he has a seat at the table, his expertise is seeing that decades-old processes are being updated, and team players conversationally united in the cloud. Combine this communications transparency with an ever expanding, best-in-class project management tool, and you have a modern day construction project.
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