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CTS Construction Blog

Integrated Construction Project Management

State of the art Integrated Construction Project Management software give contractors great tools. Let’s examine some of them and compare capabilities.

One of the best ways to distinguish between mid-market construction software offerings is to look at the vendor’s capabilities for Construction Project Management and how it supports various stakeholders in the overall project.
This can involve everything from basic change order management, alerts to staff on exception conditions, reporting important real-time data, modifying and tracking prime contracts and subcontractor agreements as well as reporting over/ under budgets based on tracking costs to date against expected cost to complete and much more.

Let’s take a look at potential project management stakeholders for a mid to large sized General Contractor:

Owner – the party who sponsors/finances the project and wants to know progress and costs to date against the total contract according to schedule.

Owner’s representative – sometimes the owner will hire a third party to run the entire project and all affiliated resources

General Contractor – the GC is the entity which will be responsible for managing the project and reporting progress and costs to the owner. They also may be performing the design and engineering for what is constructed. The General Contractor will typically hire subcontractors to do the work.

Subcontractors – hired by the GC to perform the work. They win jobs by submitting bids and winning the job based on their past performance and/or based on being the low bidder.

Bank, finance company – this entity finances the job through the owner and releases funds as the job progresses per contract.

All of these entities should ideally be connected by a well integrated Project Management system that, at some level, tracks every single transaction performed on the work along with associated documentation.

Now let’s look at some typical transactions and how they get fed to and from an integrated project management system.

Single vendor model – the vendor has their own PM system which takes care of everything it is capable of handling.

Viewpoint Vista is a good example of robust project management with all functions self-contained in their product. Viewpoint for Field View is a cloud based mobile solution to capture data from anywhere in the field, whether you are connected online or not. Field View allows all members of a construction team to share data, including daily logs, punch lists, safety observations, inspections, defect management, and commissioning.
If users in the field have WiFi they can upload the data to their offices immediately. If not, they can save it to share later when they have internet access.

Cloud based solutions involving more than one vendor – with current cloud technology software can be operated over a web browser using any device to perform any function. This allows multiple vendors to work together collaboratively in entering transactions, collecting data and documents and then acting on them in real time by alerting the party that needs to see the information to initiate approvals or act on exception conditions. Simple examples might be submitting a change order or submittal for approval that would also require initiating a requisition/ purchase order. It will also synchronize Prime Contracts and subcontract costs that need to be updated for approved change orders/ scope changes. These items will cause the estimates to be updated so that budget to actual is properly correlated.

The mult-vendor collaborative mode works best when vendors have complementary capabilities that can be shared to make the whole project go more smoothly. Possibly the best example of this in today’s market is the integration between Procore’s Project Management product and Dexter Chaney’s Spectrum construction solution. Procore is a superior product for collaborative project management since it is designed to work with multiple stakeholders and handle complex issues like accessing data using robust controls on who can see what. It can also either collect or disseminate data according to need.
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So, for example, Procore could be used to gather labor time and send it to Spectrum for posting to the job cost ledger. Procore can also push a schedule of values by cost code to Spectrum. In turn, Spectrum could send fully detailed job cost ledgers to Procore which would aggregate all costs, commitments, budget revisions and latest cost to complete estimates for the owner to see all in one place.

So movement of information and documents can go in many directions depending on which software solution is most efficient at collecting and managing it.

Conclusion:

Construction Project Management capabilities have come a long way over the past few years both in terms of what they do as well as the efficient capture of related transactional documents, storing them, and being able to access them conveniently.
These construction project management capabilities are where the rubber hits the road and separates the high end mid-market products from the vendors who only offer rudimentary capabilities. The thing to remember is the products who target General Contractors are usually going to be much more capable for project management than products designed for specialty contractors who, typically, don’t have to deal with so many different parties to the job as well as the variations in transactions.

The People Challenge:

Some are of the belief that the real obstacle nowadays is not so much the capabilities of construction project management solutions as it is getting the project managers to change their habits and commit to using them for the benefit of all parties.