Just 10 years ago, very few construction firms used any kind of specialised software to manage their operations. Sure, larger firms were using generic project management tools, spreadsheets and email. But generally speaking, software for construction barely moved the needle.
How much can change in a decade.
The adoption of specialised software has grown exponentially in recent years. For example, in 2011 just 13% of UK construction businesses were using building information modelling (BIM). By 2020 73% had deployed it.
There has been a boom in the number of companies providing software for construction, with global revenue in the sector reported to be USD $84 billion in 2018. As this market matures, we are also seeing increasing consolidation of software for construction. Where once apps were designed to address a specific problem – be that plan management, task scheduling or site diaries – today’s tech increasingly offers an end-to-end solution, where construction businesses can access most of the tools and features they need from a single system.
What is your experience with software for construction?
Most contractors, subcontractors, architects and building engineers will have used some form of construction software. Software for construction (also known as ‘ConTech’) covers technologies as diverse as:
- Customer relationship management
- Equipment management
- Resource optimisation
- Project management and scheduling
- Contract management and document management
- Supplier payment tools and accounting
- A wide variety of design tools, including CAD and BIM
- 3D printing
- …and many other construction innovations
All kinds of construction software use digital technology to speed up traditionally manual processes. By digitising these activities, the goal is to improve efficiency and reduce mistakes.
7 benefits of software for construction
Whether you have already begun your journey towards using software for construction, or still mainly rely on manual processes, it is helpful to have an idea of the expected benefits that ConTech can bring.
Here are seven of the ways that construction software can support your business.
Significantly improves productivity
Research shows that using software for construction can result in productivity gains of up to 15%. By digitising your tasks and processes, ConTech allows you to do more in less time. Just as email lets communicate faster than writing letters, software for construction has the same goal.
Example: A construction site manager needs to review the building plan from six months ago to identify the cause of a problem. In the past, they would need to drive to head office and hunt through endless paper files. But with a plan management app on their smartphone, the construction site manager can find the plan right on their device within minutes.
Enhances project management
Construction software can support and enhance your project management processes, making them more efficient and easier to control. This in turn means projects are better run and delays less likely.
Example: At each stage of a project, your construction site manager allocates tasks to specific subcontractors. As those workers tick off jobs, your project manager gets a real-time view of progress. As a result, they can manage budgets and timeframes more effectively.
Software for construction saves time in innumerable ways. From initial project planning through to the construction phase and post-completion, technology can win back hours each week for everyone involved.
Example: During the snagging phase, the architect and lead contractor must inspect the site and identify any errors. If they are using a mobile-based application, they can geolocate the exact area in the building that each snag is found on a digital building plan. This information then gets sent to subcontractors who are responsible for fixing the problems. As a result of using digital technology, you can save hours of time on telling people where each snag is, and verifying they’ve been fixed.
Snagging done right: What should a snag list include?
Communication is essential for good construction management. However, project stakeholders often find themselves overwhelmed with face-to-face meetings, Zoom, Teams and phone calls, emails and the use of apps like WhatsApp. All of this makes miscommunications and mistakes increasingly likely. In contrast, software for construction gives you a single interface where all communication happens.
Example: A subcontractor has a query about where to install a radiator. Using ConTech, they send their questions to the relevant person, whether it’s the lead contractor or even the architect. They can then get a quick response. This is much more efficient than relying on emails or telephone calls.
Better job costing
Estimating bids for a project can be very challenging. However, software for construction can provide plenty of valuable information to help you bid accurately and competitively.
Example: Your company is bidding for a hospital renovation project. Because you have immediate access to previous project timelines and progress reports from your construction software, you have a much clearer idea of what the costs will be and can make the most accurate bid.
More detailed reporting
Producing reports – from health and safety to progress and daily field updates – is a time-consuming activity. However, specialised software allows you to automatically generate all manner of reports that are compliant with standards and regulations.
Example: Your construction manager needs to conduct a site safety audit. With a mobile-based app, they can follow an inspection checklist that is securely stored online and provides evidence that you have complied with your responsibilities
Helps manage documentation better
Construction site managers spend hours every week producing documentation required for audit, legal or project management reasons. Reliance on paper makes producing and storing documentation time consuming – not to mention the risk of loss or damage. On the other hand, software for construction lets you digitally create documents in an instant, and store them in the cloud.
Example: At the end of every shift, the site manager fills in a site diary. Previously, this would have been a simple book with a cardboard cover that was easily lost or damaged. But by using software, the construction manager can fill in the diary from their smartphone, upload it to the cloud and all project stakeholders can see their latest reports.
Keep reading: What is software for housebuilders?
Specialised software is here to stay
Over the past decade, we have seen rapid growth in the use of software for construction. And with market-leading platforms offering ever more features, it is also increasingly common for construction firms to find almost all the tools they need in a single application.
To see what this kind of comprehensive construction software could do for you, see PlanRadar in action with a demo from our friendly customer support teams.