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By Missy England
March 29, 2017
The maturity of your project management processes directly determines project success.Besides taking steps like providing dedicated support for project managers and improving project processes, construction businesses can solve some very old project management pain points by first understanding those pain points.
More than 50% of respondents to the Software Advice report named disorganization as one of their project management pain points. This need to organize more effectively is seen across all project management functions. When there isn't enough proper planning taking place, project activities start to veer away from the timeline and projected costs. Lack of organization interferes with effective planning by either robbing time or robbing resources. Another key aspect of project management that suffers from poor organization is delegation.
Projects are not one person initiative, so delegation is a necessary part of the process. But, even after delegating, it's necessary to keep track of the delegated tasks. Cloud-based project management software drastically improves organization because it provides a framework that delivers clear, standardized, and consistent project management processes. These are the hallmarks of having a mature project management system.
Almost 50% of small businesses included in the above report said they needed their processes automated and streamlined. This is especially true for construction where many project participants create a perfect storm of disjointed, disparate, and non-integrated processes. Corralling the activities of numerous players, even on a small project, is complicated further by the number of indirect project participants, like vendors, and insurance companies.
Construction businesses themselves often have homegrown processes that have aged with the business, but no longer work well because the business has outgrown them. Still, they linger because people using them resist the need to change them. While a cloud-based construction project management solution isn't going to help people adapt to change any easier, the right one will be easy for them to adopt and start using. As soon as they see the benefits from improved processes, change is easier to accept.
Construction has always had its challenges with transparency. These challenges come from over half a century of project delivery methods that pitted one participant against the other. All the participants on the project kept their secrets, and shared as little information as possible to protect themselves from exploitation by the others. While this environment is far from gone, there are many more projects today that encourage better team collaboration.
As this trend continues, cloud-based project management solutions offer the best of both worlds for those projects still stuck in the past, as well as for those that are moving ahead. The right cloud-based solution offers all parties access to all project information––documents, schedules, drawings, and more. Today’s construction platforms also allow any project participant that uses the solution to invite other participants to the same platform. The fear of too much transparency is countered by very strong and flexible permission settings determining who can see what information.
With nearly 40% of small businesses included in the Software Advice report saying they needed to increase productivity and efficiency on their projects, there is a good possibility that technology can make a difference. For construction companies, inefficiencies and poor productivity show up most strongly on individual activities. Whenever an activity on the schedule isn't completed on time or on budget, the effects ripple through the entire project. Sometimes the ripples are very small, and but others can be very big. But, regardless of their severity, they owe their existence most often to inefficiency and poor productivity.
A major cause for inefficiency is poor planning. The statistic commonly cited is that workers spend as much as 30% of their time waiting. They wait for further instructions, they wait for materials, they wait for approvals, they wait for other people to complete something, and they wait for tools and equipment. Better planning leads to better management, and better management is an antidote for waiting and poor productivity. Cloud-based project management software improves management by making information and knowledge readily available. When managers have the most accurate, up-to-date information, they make better decisions––leading to greater efficiency and improved productivity.
Many small businesses included in the above report said they wanted more functionality in their project management systems. For construction businesses using spreadsheets or legacy systems, there is a wealth of project management functions they are missing out on. Topping the list is real time reporting.
They are also missing out on greater accuracy in estimating, along with quicker and more accurate change order processing. Tracking resources, knowing the status of the human resources at a moment’s notice, reevaluating project constraints and dependencies in real time, and working with a budget that is constantly updated, are functions that now draw the line between competitive and noncompetitive construction firms. These functionalities, and more, are what make modern cloud based project management solutions the answer to complaints of low functionality.
Every construction project is a hotbed of information. But all that information is of little use when it doesn't get to the right people at the right time. Running a project with email, phone, and FAX is now the old way of doing things because there are better tools that are exclusively designed for managing projects. These tools speed up project communication and enable collaboration in such a way that people are kept in the loop and there is a record for accountability.
From the simplest project topic to the most complex, modern cloud-based project management software keeps the communication relevant and relatable among project participants. Everyone needs to see the most recent versions of documents and drawings. With software handling that, you can focus on activities that require human attention.
Project Management Software
The Anatomy of a Request for Information (RFI)
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