Construction management software: all you need to know
Software designed for construction management (also called site supervision or monitoring) enables businesses in the building sector to organize, plan and monitor the progress of construction projects. But how do you choose the best construction management software for your company? In order to make the right choice, you need to consider several factors.
What is construction management?
As a business in the building industry, you want to get started on your construction project. Yes, but where do you start? The construction management process lays the groundwork for your construction project.
Construction management can be defined as the methods and tools used to plan, organize and monitor the progress of a project. It enables you to prepare, coordinate and then track the progress of your project.
SaaS software, free software, Excel spreadsheet templates… there are all kinds of software tools designed for construction managers. In order to make the right choice, it is necessary to accurately define the functionalities you will require.
The steps involved in managing a construction project
Construction management can be broken down into the following steps:
1. Planning the project
To ensure a successful construction project, the first condition is thorough preparation. You first of all need a clear statement of work. According to the works to be undertaken, it is then a matter of estimating the cost of the project, taking into account the costs of both labor and materials.
Then comes the actual project planning. This is about ensuring in advance that all the work will be done smoothly. We can distinguish here between macro and micro planning.
Macro planning of a project
This is simply preparing the project in advance. You need to identify the different phases of your project.
The 3 main phases of a construction project:
- The main structural works, including the foundations, frame, etc.
- Fitting out, including insulation, installation of stairs, partitions, etc.
- Finishing work, including painting, flooring, etc.
For each main phase, you will need to define the timeframe required, as well as the order of execution of the different phases. Without this, you risk serious setbacks once the project has started.
Lastly, you will need to evaluate your labor and material requirements for the whole project:
- What quantity of materials do you require? Can you negotiate a good price with your supplier?
- Do you have a big enough workforce to undertake the project? Or will you need to use interims and/or a subcontractor?
This step is vital in order to ensure you can estimate the costs related to each phase of your project.
Micro planning of works
Micro planning of a project focuses on a specific time period: what is the list of jobs to be done this week? Which teams and trades do I need? Are they available or do I need to schedule external labor (interims, subcontractors…)?
This leads onto the second phase of construction management, the practical organization of the project.
2. Coordination of teams and organization of work
You have set out your roadmap. Now, how do you ensure your construction project progresses smoothly? Once the list of jobs has been drawn up, you still need to ensure they are carried out adequately and on time. Optimal management requires thorough organization.
Developing the team scheduling
Accurate team scheduling is essential for any construction project to run smoothly. Which trades do you need in order to complete each specific job? Which workers do you need to send to which site? Team scheduling, also called human resource allocation, enables these questions to be answered.
For smaller projects which require fewer workers, team scheduling can be done in an Excel spreadsheet. There are team scheduling templates available to download that can provide a sheet per project, for example, on which you can allocate your various teams for each day of the week.
If your company employs more than 50, 100 or even 1000 staff, you will need to use a resource planning software tool.
Allocating required material resources
Equipment, machines, vehicles, tools… which material resources are required for completion of the current job? In order not to waste time – and money! – during the project, it is vital to identify in advance the requirements of each project per day of work.
Again, you can use an Excel spreadsheet to manage the allocation of your material resources across your projects, but if you have medium to large projects then it is advisable to use construction scheduling software for this task.
The advantage of some digital solutions, like Traxxeo’s, is being able to do human and material resource planning in the same place. This way you have a central overview of your requirements by site or project, as well as the availability of your resources.
Managing procurement of materials
The same goes for materials: ensuring they are supplied on time is vital, without forgetting to take into account delivery lead times.
The aim is to avoid running out of stock, which can cause significant delays in a project’s progress. Stock management is therefore another critical point in good management of your project.
Communicating information from the field
On sites, anything can happen: equipment breakdown, accident, unexpected events… Whatever situation arises, it must be communicated to head office as soon as possible. This enables you to justify any delay in the project and to deal with the problem quickly.
In order to transmit this information, construction managers no longer need to wait until the end of the day or week: site reporting mobile apps, by messages or annotated photos, now exist.
These apps are generally provided by software companies who offer a full range of products designed for the construction industry, as is the case with Traxxeo and its suite of construction management software.
Ensuring site compliance and safety
Preventing work accidents is extremely important for all construction businesses. French law stipulates that the employer is legally responsible for the safety of its workers at their place of work.
To ensure optimal safety, as well as to combat social security fraud, the construction sector is one of the most strictly regulated. Unsurprisingly, the consequences for lack of administrative compliance are significant (criminal prosecution and fines, reputational damage…).
Ensuring administrative compliance of your site, as well as each worker in attendance, is therefore vital.
To assist you in this work, there are a range of resources: from on-site safety measures to put in place, to software solutions for access control, attendance monitoring, digital administrative management…
Ensuring the management of workers’ time on sites
Last but not least: you must be able to track the time worked by your site workers. While office workers record their hours in a fixed location, the daily routine of construction workers is much less consistent.
To guarantee accurate time tracking, and therefore ensure correct pay for your workers, there are several solutions open to you.
The most flexible are digital timesheets. These are available in software specifically designed for tracking and recording workers’ time.
Recording the hours worked can be done in different ways:
- Through clock-in machines/badge readers (RFID, mobile, online…)
- Through a time-tracking app that can be either declarative or semi-declarative (tag guaranteeing the time with information added by the site manager or team leader)
Whichever recording method you choose (or a combination of methods), the information is transmitted to a single management platform. The information is checked (one or more times) and then sent to the payroll software.
3. Site monitoring
Sometimes used as a synonym of site management, site monitoring is also a well-defined step in the management of a construction project. One thing is sure: there can be no effective site monitoring without good management. And conversely, successful site management requires proper investment in this monitoring step.
What is site monitoring?
Sometimes used as a synonym of site management, site monitoring is either:
- General site management, from planning to performance monitoring
- A stage of site management, enabling monitoring of the progress of tasks against the expenditure estimated in the budget forecasts
As the name suggests, site monitoring encompasses all the tools and methods related to monitoring the site and its profitability. It consists of comparing the actual progress of tasks and budgets with the forecasts. Close monitoring of a project is indispensable in order to be able to identify any anomaly rapidly (budget overrun, delay…).
It is important to differentiate between the different types of monitoring:
1. Task monitoring
What stage are teams at with completing the various tasks compared to the schedule? Monitoring the progress of work is vital.
Monitoring this progress must always be done in comparison with what was planned. The progress of tasks will be compared not only with the forecast time schedule but also with the budget advancement.
At this level, comparison of the works progress with the costs incurred by the labor force is a good indicator of team productivity. In the event of a delay in the execution of tasks or a major labor budget overrun, it will be necessary to take corrective measures rapidly.
2. Budget monitoring
What is the level of expenditure of the different budgets? Is this expenditure in line with the actual progress of the project?
In addition to monitoring expenditure on materials, it is also important to monitor labor costs.
While formulas based on the hourly cost of the different trades provide an estimate of this cost, specially designed software, such as the software solutions offered by Traxxeo, enable accurate and real-time calculation of labor costs.
These digital tools enable managers to monitor the productivity of teams and evaluate project profitability at all times.
Why use construction management software?
To respond to increasing competition, many construction companies are now turning to digital solutions. Construction management software is an indispensable tool for every main contractor, in order to ensure the smooth running of the works throughout the project.
Construction management software enables:
- Collaborative management
- Better informed project management
- More thorough site monitoring
- Centralized information
Successful construction project management requires being able to monitor progress at all times. By providing real-time site monitoring, construction management software means you can keep control over the activities taking place on sites, even from a distance.
Collaborative and real-time management
Management software will enable more detailed planning and management at all levels of the business. It also enables better collaboration between everyone involved in the project. Whether a site manager, HR director or finance director… all stakeholders have access to a customized digital tool that communicates within its environment.
All the data related to your projects is centralized within a single digital environment. Managing activities is easier and decisions can be made based on information that is up-to-date and complete.
Furthermore, specialized software enables better management of your site resources, in order to improve productivity and maintain control over costs.
Digital construction management and profitability
One of the main advantages of digital tools in the construction sector is to provide you with a real-time view of the productivity of your project: is the progress of works in line with the planned schedule? Is expenditure keeping within the allocated budget? You will have an overview of the project progress at all times, in order to ensure profitability.
As profit margins are already significantly reduced in the construction industry, any budget variance can have a real impact. By not leaving any room for surprises, you will ensure your profit margin is protected and the project remains profitable.
Dashboards, a management tool for construction project managers
To be able to make fast and informed decisions, it is essential to understand the situation as quickly as possible. By synthesizing the various data in a clear and visual manner, dashboards are key aids for strategic thinking and operational management of sites.
The role of dashboards is to enable construction managers to visualize, synthesize, monitor and exploit the data in a simple and fast manner. Key performance indicators (KPI) are presented in dashboards in the form of figures, ratios and charts.
Monitoring your indicators closely is vital in order to spot any anomaly and to inform your decisions throughout the construction project.
Construction management software provides a considerable advantage for strategic management of a company, provided the right one is chosen and the main functionalities required are clearly identified.
Which software is best for construction management?
The market for construction management tools is large and varied. There are many construction management systems that are free or integrated in more generalist software. The choice of a construction management system is often made according to the size of your company.
A range of systems exist for different prices. It will depend on your budget.
1. Construction management using Excel spreadsheets
If you are a proficient Excel user, perhaps you will be tempted to manage your construction projects in this spreadsheet application. Managing or monitoring your construction projects in Excel is not very complicated in theory.
If you don’t want to spend time creating such an Excel spreadsheet, you can make use of free construction management templates that are available to download.
Do be aware, however, of the limits of such a tool:
- Time-consuming entering and reinputting of data
- No integration possible with your other software
- Prone to human error
Although the limits of Excel for medium and large companies become apparent very quickly, it can be a useful tool for a young and small company with limited activity.
2. Free construction management software
Have you have explored the limits of Excel and are you now seeking a free construction management software tool?
When it comes to management software that is completely free, you could use GladiaSoft. This software is designed for all building professionals. You can install it on your computer for free but it does have an old-fashioned interface. However, if you are a small company still with very limited means, this free software may meet your requirements.
When comparing other free software, beware of free trial periods prior to having to subscribe.
3. SaaS software for managing construction projects
While using Excel or other free software to assist with your construction management can be a good strategy when starting out, the limits of these tools soon become apparent.
In order to be able to respond to greater and more complex needs, you will inevitably need to change to a different tool. Furthermore, as your digital environment becomes more complex (HRIS, CRM, financial accounting software…), it becomes crucial that your various software can communicate with each other.
Turning to a good SaaS software solution (Service as a Software) becomes inevitable. But how do you go about choosing the right software to meet your construction management needs? There are a number of factors to take into account.
Characteristics of good construction management software:
- The interface: ergonomic and user-friendly
- Ease of use: simple and quick to get to grips with
- Integration: with your existing software
- Functionalities: that will meet your specific needs
- Mobility: the mobile app will be used by field teams
Additionally, when it comes to monitoring your construction projects, SaaS software enables you to generate visual dashboards for your key indicators with real-time data.
4. Mobile app, a new tool for construction management
Available with some management software, a mobile app can be a powerful tool for construction managers. It can be your new preferred tool for communicating with sites.
Team planning, adhering to the schedule, time tracking, attendance monitoring, checking worker compliance… a mobile app provides you with unrivalled visibility of the activities of your site workers.
A site time tracking app, for example, provides the facility for easy and secure digital time tracking of teams in the field.
For medium and large companies, it ensures effective coordination between head office and the various sites. Field teams benefit from better responsiveness but also increased productivity thanks to the elimination of time-consuming manual management tasks.
For the site manager, it’s a powerful and effective tool that enables efficient management directly in the field.
Traxxeo, your construction management partner
A software company specialized in digital solutions for managing human and material resources in the construction sector, Traxxeo supports you with your planning, monitoring, analysis, management, etc. On computers, tablets or smartphones, you and your teams keep control over your sites and projects, thanks to a central management platform connected to a mobile app that is easy to master and use.
The benefits of using Traxxeo solutions for your construction management:
- Ergonomic interfaces
- Tools that are easy to use, even on sites
- Efficient and effective solutions, powered by the best digital technologies (AI, connected objects, collaborative tools…)
- Detailed analysis of your data, which enables effective monitoring of your key indicators
Furthermore, the definition of roles with different levels of access enables you to allocate the desired level of responsibility to each stakeholder: worker, team leader, works manager, site manager, HR manager, etc.
Traxxeo’s suite of software tools have been developed with a common purpose: to improve the productivity of construction companies, through the use of the most advanced technologies.
Do you want to make the digital transition? Let’s talk!
See more about Traxxeo
Since 2008, Traxxeo has been developing customized solutions for the digitalization and optimization of mobile resource management (personnel, vehicles, tools, machines) in order to increase productivity, keep costs under control and empower teams by enabling them to focus their valuable time on tasks with a high added value.
Traxxeo’s expertise has benefitted many large companies in diverse industries, particularly in the construction sector, where the software company supports clients such as Sendin, Fontanel, Cougnaud, Eiffage, Veolia and Equans through their digital transition.
Digital technology to support your site productivity
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