Remember when Google launched Google Sheets almost two decades ago? That was a genuine historical watershed for businesses dealing with vast amounts of data. Construction companies, in particular, breathed a sigh of relief as they could finally transcend the limitations of Microsoft Excel. They quickly adopted this new tool and significantly benefited from it over the years.
But those days are over. A new, more effective tool is enabling construction companies to meet the increasing demands of the industry: construction project management software. Streamlining the construction process requires collecting and analysing more data than spreadsheets can handle, and this tool is designed to do just that. This article will explore the advantages of construction management software over spreadsheets.
One of the things that drew users to spreadsheets during their early years was their ability to be edited in real-time. But eventually, construction companies realised the danger of having easily modifiable data. So then, Google increased its security by allowing spreadsheet owners to restrict access to their files to prevent anyone from intentionally or unintentionally changing anything. The problem is that in a construction project, multiple stakeholders need complete access to the same data, so the restrictions are useless.
Many contractors prefer construction project management software because it presents data more straightforwardly and tracks real-time changes. As a result, project managers, site engineers, and other stakeholders don’t have to start from scratch to verify which version of any document is accurate. Inputting data can also be done in several ways other than opening the sheets on a laptop or desktop, allowing workers to enter data immediately and avoid misplacing or forgetting about them.
Those who do not have a working email address can’t access Google Sheets. It’s one thing that makes this technology unsuitable for systems and operations requiring multiple data access. And because a spreadsheet, whether construction schedule excel template or cost estimation excel sheet, is inherently in a landscape format, opening it on smartphones and tablets can be tricky, even if there’s a mobile-responsive G-Sheets app.
Accessing data through construction management software is much easier because it doesn’t require an email address. Well, it does, depending on the restrictions set by the construction company. But in most cases, all stakeholders are given individual accounts where they can log in, much like logging in on a social media site, which everyone is familiar with. Construction data is also presented in a more legible and digestible manner, unlike spreadsheets that require stakeholders to scroll through hundreds of pages whenever they need specific information.
Google Sheets use a single cloud, meaning all users share the same data centre. While each user has their own protected section in this cloud, there’s no guarantee it’s completely safe from breach. The fact that spreadsheets can be shared with anyone through email makes them vulnerable to hacking. In addition, terminating resigned employees’ access to the spreadsheets must be done page by page, which is time-consuming.
With computer construction software, a construction company gets a dedicated construction cloud, which is more secure from outside threats. It also provides a built-in audit trail, making it easier to track data changes, identify the source of errors, or detect malicious activity. Unlike spreadsheets, this software is built to handle large datasets, optimising performance and preventing data loss due to crashes. It also has the ability to enforce data validation rules to enhance data accuracy and consistency.
Construction project management software enables centralised data management. Documents, reports, and all necessary project information are stored and managed in one place. It is also designed to integrate with other software tools commonly used in the construction industry, such as Building information modeling (BIM) or accounting software, making it easier for stakeholders to access data and collaborate.
Spreadsheets can hardly be integrated with other digital tools, so data must be transferred manually if needed on another platform. They can be integrated with other Google tools, such as Google Forms and Google Docs, but not with industry-specific tools. It can be particularly challenging when the data in question is on multiple sheets. Instead of simply sending a single file, it must be extracted from an individual page.
As construction projects grow larger, the amount of data generated can quickly become overwhelming. Spreadsheets are not designed to handle large datasets, which can lead to slow performance or crashes. Remember that Google Drive is only made to take some load off people’s hard drives. Its storage space is limited. This can impede a contractor’s plan to scale up to provide better services and reach larger markets.
Besides increased accessibility, construction project management software is also often designed modularly, with different modules for different project management tasks such as scheduling, resource allocation, and budget tracking. This allows construction companies to scale up the software as needed simply by adding modules or features. And as mentioned earlier, it’s also easy to integrate with other software, enabling construction companies to boost the platform’s functionality as needed.
Google and Microsoft are among the first brands to come to mind when thinking about digital technology. But for some reason, MS Excel and Google Sheets lack the flexibility businesses need to detect data entry errors, which can potentially impact analytics. Poor-quality data can lead to various shortfalls and snags in a construction project, particularly incorrect cost estimates, and procurement.
Construction project management software uses AI and machine learning technology to detect glaring errors that can be difficult to find manually—no need to scan every page and review tons of documents to identify rogue data. The software can also be programmed to detect redundant information or files and only store the most relevant ones. This significantly reduces distractions and maximises cloud storage space.
Better data analysis
While Google Sheets was a substantial step up from MS Excel, it failed to fully eliminate the need to memorise and combine formulas to automate calculations and analyses. That’s why construction companies still need to hire specialists to build an automated database through Google Sheets, which increases overheads and hampers collaboration. It also expands the bureaucracy, as many teams cannot instantly access the information they need from the database.
With construction project management software, contractors can obtain detailed analyses and reports with less effort. They can use the system to generate insights that can help track progress and identify areas for improvement, even without the technical skills needed to operate spreadsheets. This helps ensure that projects are completed on time and within budget.
Construction technology continues to evolve as the demand for sustainability and efficiency grows. Adopting the latest tools is the only way to meet client expectations and comply with existing laws and regulations. Shifting to more advanced solutions, such as construction project management software, enables a construction company to scale up and take on bigger, more complicated projects.
Breaking legacy systems that encumber technological progress is the first step to reaching new heights in the industry. This ensures the complete integration of construction project management software into the operation and the streamlining of processes that follows.