As we all know, contractors operate on razor-thin margins. In order to deliver successful, profitable projects, you need to manage costs prudently. And this discipline isn’t learned overnight — it comes with experience, on-site management, and many mistakes. Every contractor knows that the cost impact of unforeseen budgeting errors, pending on-site issues, and changes in design can quickly grow out of control. The ability to properly gauge the financial health of a project is critical towards project success.
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Unforeseen budgeting errors, pending on-site issues, and changes in design can quickly grow out of control. The ability to properly gauge the financial health of a project is critical towards project success.
In order to develop a strong budget and cost management discipline on your projects, you need to assess all strategic costs, budget rigidity, outsourcing capabilities, and technology implementation to protect margins. Although there are many areas to discuss room for margin improvement, in this piece we’ll focus on technology. In order to properly manage the budget, costs, and ongoing financial health of a project, most contractors rely on a project management software system.
In this article, we’ll outline six key areas that contractors should evaluate before investing in a project management system to manage their project budgets and associated costs.
6 Key Requirements and Features to Evaluate When Selecting a Construction Project Management Tool
When evaluating a project management system, an underrated and often overlooked capability is configurable user roles. Oftentimes software is developed by people who don’t come from the construction industry. What ends up happening is the software will force and confine users to strict, pre-customized user roles — without any room for configuration to match the unique business roles within your organization.
For example, you might not want a sub-contractor to have visibility into the overall cash flow and financial performance of a project. Or maybe you want the finance-related users to only have access to the financial-related functionality. The point being not every project contributor requires the same level of access and visibility. You’ll likely want to configure project contributor access based on their own unique business role.
Here are several questions to consider asking of vendors:
- How long has their organization been serving the construction industry?
- What percentage of their employees possess a construction-related background?
- What is the financial health of their organization? Are they profitable?
- As a contractor, you run a profitable business. Why would you invest in a solution company unable to run their business profitably?
- Does their product provide solutions to specific construction pains, or does it serve as an end-to-end project solution?
It is extremely important to find a system like ProjectSight that gives you the ability to manually configure cost codes, cost types, and budget line items.
Many project management systems won’t provide this direct-to-field functionality, which typically indicates the solution is focused on solving a singular problem — instead of providing a true end-to-end solution.
As design changes occur, users can overlay drawings to visualize design differences. With ProjectSight, all project contributors get automated versioning, hyperlinking, OCR, and direct integration with project controls.
6. Evaluating the Organizational Umbrella
Understanding the vendor’s organizational infrastructure is an underrated element of long-term success with a project management system. When purchasing a solution, many companies will force multiple business roles within their organization to jerry-rig the system to fit their needs. This requires an extraordinary amount of time, unnecessary pain, and money to conform the system to everyone’s needs — when in reality it doesn’t need to be.
When you choose ProjectSight as your partner, you get access to Trimble’s network of products and people. We don’t believe in forcing inorganic relationships with our software. That’s why we have systems designed for operations, finance, field management, project management, reporting, and a whole lot more.
When you choose ProjectSight as your partner, you get access to Trimble’s network of products and people. We don’t believe in forcing inorganic relationships with our software.
At the end of the day, a project management system — or any product for that matter — will only be effective if it fits your unique business needs. Technology companies will often try to force you into their predefined roles and use cases, ignoring the unique roles, use cases, and requirements of your workflows.
We encourage you to select a partner that is willing to work with you for the long haul, instead of vendors’ rushed attempts to secure your business before the end of that quarter. Choose a partner that has a proven track record within the construction space, that has the organizational capacity and confidence to promote your success, and a history of innovative commitment.