The growth in construction software means technology leaders are in high demand. They are developing digital transformation strategies while solving system issues, so teams have access to the tools they need to succeed. They may find robust tools that solve problems, but the list of critical success factors is long.
At some companies, “shadow IT” issues pop up where users access their software outside of what has been tested and approved. This only adds complexity to an IT leader’s responsibility to ensure the data is protected and systems are secured from cyber threats. Clients and regulators place additional demands on how companies handle data, which further adds to the complexity of making selections and keeping systems up to date.
In light of these challenges, how does a construction organization select a construction management software solution that makes their business more successful while checking all the boxes on compliance?
Here are nine key factors to consider:
1. The Software Scores High on Usability and Ease of Adoption
IT leaders want to know that the software they select will have a near-term positive impact on the organization — and not wait years to see the benefits. That means the solution needs to have the right mix of predefined workflows and adaptability to the business’s ways of working. The user interface should be consistent across the product to accelerate learning how the product works. Meanwhile, the licensing model should complement the way a business wants to collaborate across stakeholders.
Similarly, workflows in the software should mirror the way users do their job, in terms of process steps, handoffs, and approvals. However, the user should feel that the tool streamlines their work rather than adding friction to complex processes. This is where the developer’s domain experience makes a big difference in how users receive products. Builders need to ensure they have access to unlimited support regardless of their role to ensure projects keep moving forward if users do get stuck.
According to the 2021 JBKnowledge Report, the top five reasons companies use mobile devices in the field are: daily reporting, photo/video capture, time management, safety management, and plan management. Procore ranked as the #1 solution for construction across all five of these categories.
2. The Solution Has the Right Data Permissions and Protections for Secure Collaboration
The construction industry is increasingly collaborative. Teams are expected to work together to anticipate and mitigate issues as soon as they occur. This is only possible when teams are able to work from the same set of information. Siloed, out-of-sync information causes unnecessary friction and slows down progress. With role-based access control (RBAC), users can see only the information necessary to do their jobs.
The software system owner needs the ability to give the right level of permissions to select users inside and outside their organization. At the same time, they need to keep proprietary and competition-sensitive information private. Having robust permission templates help accelerate this process, as does integration with active directories for authentication. This way, users can spend more time making their projects go smoothly and less time on administrative tasks.
3. The Platform Enables Companies to Streamline Their Tech Stack
To start with, many IT leaders look for a platform that can help streamline their tech stack. Having to maintain numerous software solutions is unsustainable. Today’s users want a seamless experience as they move from one device to another, in and out of applications. They want a single source of truth and updates in real-time. This includes being able to approve data into mission-critical systems like the ERP.
4. Third Party Applications Easily Integrate into the Platform
Since the IT department is charged with meeting the needs of various users, they need built-in flexibility to integrate third-party applications into the platform. This means having pre-built connectors that facilitate one-way and two-way communication between the app and the core platform. With access to an API library, a company can also build their own applications as user needs evolve. This process helps ensure not only extensibility in the functionality of the software but also helps establish a single source of truth for faster analysis, reporting, and communication.
5. Data Storage is Safeguarded and Complies with Regulations
As more information is stored and shared in networked systems, regulators have spelled out standards that help ensure any personal information is kept private. That includes ensuring that wherever it is stored and processed, adequate safeguards are in place to protect it.
Procore had an acceptable cloud-based model, and the way they managed their firewall and security satisfied our most particular customers, including the DoD, the VA, and the GSA. Procore allows us to take advantage of that real-time sharing with clients, but in the context of meeting their protocols.Source: Ameresco Case Study. Ameresco is a developer serving the United States Government.
There is currently no privacy framework in the current or near term for most international markets that necessitates in-region data storage or processing. A provider’s solution architecture makes a big difference in how feasible it will be for them to extend their capabilities to meet future requirements in this area.
6. Robust Security Protocols Are In Place
Any system with a connection to the Internet needs continuously updated security protocols to protect against evolving cyber threats. Attacks can take the form of denial of service, where users are blocked from accessing their information, or data breach, where information is stolen. For a system to be effective, it needs consistent security protocols to protect data when it travels through the Internet (“data in transit”) and when it is stored on a server (“data at rest”). The software provider needs to have firewalls to prevent unauthorized access and be able to detect intrusion.
7. The Solution is Built for Performance and Reliability
In a modern solution architecture, files are stored at large data centers with robust performance and controls. This makes data accessible whenever needed while keeping it stored in a place where the information is safe and secure. Users should be able to see where the data is stored and have in-region options where they do business.
When a solution architecture is well-designed and effectively deployed, it has built-in flexibility to meet future requirements. Users can benefit from unlimited storage and unlimited users, scalable according to their business needs without degrading their experience.
A high-performing cloud data center has built-in redundancy, so files can be quickly restored in case of an emergency. That means file are backed up in the cloud, rather than having to constantly download copies, just in case. Performance is monitored on an ongoing basis, and security incidents are handled promptly so users can continue using the system.
8. Leaders Understand User Needs
An effective software provider designs their product based on how people use it. That means understanding complex workflows and real-life user cases. For international builders, this means growing an in-region presence, building relationships with local operators, and communicating information back to product teams for ongoing development. It also means language selection options and 24/7 support availability for all team members who interface with the solution, inside and outside the organization. File storage locations (FSLs) need to be close to operations to minimize download and upload times. For example, Procore has 15 FSLs worldwide that allow customers to store certain project data locally, while also improving the speed and performance of the platform.
9. The Solution is Built for the Future
Some organizations opt to take software development in-house and bear the heavy burden of upkeep. Others find themselves patching together a quilt of point solutions designed to address a subset of use cases but cannot integrate information. In both cases, the upkeep of complex tech stacks is time-consuming. It can cause an organization to spend too much time in maintenance mode and not enough time building a competitive advantage through technology.
For Builders to maintain their competitive edge, they need construction management software that continues to innovate. The technology selection team will want to evaluate how often new features are added and ensure the platform is still in active development — not overlooked in favor of other priorities.
Over time, Builders realize the efficiency gains that come with effective construction management software. That means they want to connect more internal and external users on the platform and integrate more project information. Therefore, they need the flexibility to add users without the hassle of additional onboarding and offboarding licenses and the freedom to add as much data as they need to get the job done.
Ultimately, contractors and developers want to focus on what they do best — building. And so, they are increasingly choosing to work with IT partners to keep up with the pace of new technologies. They look for a track record of ongoing investment in product innovation and a contract model that has the flexibility they need for the future.