What’s in Your Tool Kit?

What’s in Your Tool Kit?
April 12, 2017 David Wiener

Any builder worth his or her salt will tell you there are essential tools required in the construction trade. Ideally, when you need one you’d like it handy, in one spot, alongside all your other critical tools. Having everything you need at your fingertips, and in an organized manner, is key to productivity. The concept isn’t novel. A quick glance at the tool box industry shows that many manufacturers have built multi-million dollar companies around critical tool organization.

When it comes to construction project management, the same concept applies. Yet unlike a tool box, the challenge isn’t only in the data, but in managing and organizing it in a meaningful and accessible way. All stakeholders involved in a project want access to information pertinent to their role, but how to get it? And how to get it in real-time. Software has to be the solution…

So, if we agree that an integrated construction project management software makes sense, what’s the problem? Why don’t more professionals use it?

Historically, project management software was designed for one or two specific functions. Field management ran on one system, while materials and labor costs ran on another, and none of these systems talked to the other. More often, companies just used Excel™ to keep track of numbers and info, making it nearly impossible to effectively share information. And when a new software program did become available, with the promise of functional integration, they typically couldn’t talk to the legacy systems, leaving users stymied…and mad.

This lack of fully integrated system software opens construction projects to input errors as users must manually port data from one program to another. Next, while some software programs claim to be fully integrated, providing an endto- end solution, the big question is: just which project stakeholders were factored in as users. Was the software designed for trades, and builders? Owners and developers? But wait, what about lenders, risk managers, title companies and others who play an integral part in the project. Don’t they need access to the system as well?

Another challenge is getting the stakeholders to use these systems. Without adoption, it is virtually impossible to gauge software benefits and ultimate value. Once an organization can move end users over the what’s in it for me hurdle, truly integrative software can literally pay for itself with the first project.

The benefits of an integrative software platform are real, and new software companies are entering the market to leverage this opportunity. When project accuracy and efficiency, communications, and planning can be managed with one tool, by multiple stakeholders, all in real-time, the results are dramatic: information flow and visibility increase, risks are mitigated, delays are reduced, and costs are better controlled. As more industry pros realize these potential benefits, demand will drive greater responsiveness by software companies. Technology is all around us and nowhere is it more sorely needed than in the massive construction industry.