Whether you run a construction company or you are a project manager, the work these days requires more than just spreadsheets and hand-written notes. This list of project management software features will help you guide you through the many construction project management packages on the market.
At the top of the list of project management software features you must have is document management. Every project creates a sea of documents, and they often come in waves. From RFIs to specifications to change orders and punch lists, construction management isn’t possible without managing the documentation.
Your document management function should automatically manage the versions of documents. Thus, whenever anyone accesses the document, they always see the most recent version. You also need options to assign permissions giving access only to people who need to access the document for their work. Other starting features should include data security and data cataloging, the latter allowing you to mine the data to identify trends affecting your projects.
Next on the list of project management software features is schedule integration, one of the key tools for a project manager. Most construction companies use either Microsoft software for project management or Primavera P6. But if you can’t integrate those with your project management software, you miss out on collaboration options.
The schedules you create with construction scheduler software aren’t that useful if you have to email every schedule change to the people affected. But when your scheduling software is integrated with your project management software, changes to the master schedule automatically get pushed out to anyone who needs to use the schedule.
Quality control and safety
Since quality and safety are project aspects that evolve as the project moves forward, you need tools to help you note, track, analyze, and solve quality and safety problems. These tools should be available on mobile devices so your supers, project managers, and crew leaders can use them as they go about their daily duties.
The best software will include tools for noting observations, recording photos, doing inspections, and keeping a daily log. Quality control and safety tools should integrate with your other project functions. Otherwise, the data will be locked away and unavailable when making decisions and reporting.
BIM tools sit in the middle of the list of project management software features you need. Building information modeling is gradually taking over construction workspaces. These highly detailed models put the plans in 3D and give people the opportunity to see details like they never could using 2D drawings.
For example, using the BIM tools in Procore, you can hold your tablet in front of the real-world workspace and see the BIM superimposed over it. This way, there’s little doubt that the six inches next to a horizontal wall cavity are supposed to be occupied by ductwork. So, if you see plumbing there, you quickly know something’s wrong.
With Procore’s new dynamic wall elevations, project managers and work crews have access to the coordinated model to work out clashes and avoid rework. By clicking on a wall area, they can instantly generate its elevation, allowing them to select objects to get their dimensions and the distance between them and other objects in the area.
There’s no getting around it; much of construction is based on bidding. When your project management software includes bid management, you can manage the entire bidding process so your bids are timely and accurate. The best packages even incorporate plan rooms, helping you to locate and qualify bidding opportunities. You also need tools for drafting your bid and tracking it through all the reviews and signature requirements. Importantly, your bidding solution should enable digital signatures.
Integral to any list of project management software features are financial tools. Having real-time visibility into a project’s financial picture, like the one Procore offers, takes you out of the reactionary mode. Instead, it lets you see budget issues as soon as they arise. From there, you can respond quickly to either offset the extra costs or hold them to a predetermined level.
Other important features include time tracking against job codes and invoicing.
Your financial tools should also include robust reporting options, change order processing, and digital contract management. Don’t forget integrations, either. Your project management solution should be able to integrate with your back-office accounting software. When you use the Procore platform, it’s a safe bet you can.
Finally, the last on the list of project management software features you can’t be without is mobile enablement. All the project management features should be available wherever people work. The days of running back and forth to the job trailer are limited. With a cloud-based project management solution that uses Wifi, cell communications technology, and mobile devices, your people can overcome one of the biggest challenges that have plagued construction projects for decades: work crews with no, or wrong, information.
Many project management software solutions simply focus on the project processes and require you to get other stand-alone apps to fill in the gaps. When you do that, your communications, financials, and collaborations get disconnected while your business processes suffer from information anemia. So along with all the other must-have features don’t overlook integrations that rely on APIs. Application programming interfaces reward you with systems that talk to one another. That makes all the difference when managing construction projects.