By Khalid Noor, 2022
There are various phases in construction, a lot of planning is to be implemented in a project with estimation, scheduling and workflows, budgeting/finance and so on. There exist construction softwares that implement these phases into a software all in one platform.
The aim of implementing these phases into a software is to make it easier for project managers mainly to be able to do their jobs and manage the various aspects of a project. Some softwares however, may only for example be an estimation tool to be utilised for estimating the costs of a project in the bid process. Likewise there are scheduling specific tools.
It all depends on what the individual or company is looking for in a construction software. While this article is focused mainly on the aspect of scheduling and scheduling specific softwares, for context the other areas will briefly be touched on first.
Project Management is the first area to touch on. Project management in terms of a construction software, mainly refers to the fact that all the areas of project or construction management such as estimation, planning, workflows, job assignment, communication and anything related to managing the project are included in the platform. This would make it a complete construction management software.
From the above case, it can be inferred that a construction scheduling software cannot be a complete construction management software as it focuses on the scheduling and time/workflow aspect of construction. From this it can be assumed it might possibly be more in-depth than your typical construction management software as scheduling is its main focus.
Estimation is the next area to be visited briefly. There are estimation tools for construction that are utilised to provide accurate estimations for a project. Whereas scheduling is concerned with the time management aspect of a construction project, estimation is concerned with the financial aspect or more specifically the pre financial aspect of the construction process. Builders will submit a bid to the person they are seeking to win the project from. The bid itself is a summary of the cost that the builder expects to incur for the construction of the project.
Construction management tools will tend to incorporate an estimation tool to aid builders/contractors in effectively estimating the costs of the project with predetermined formulas and calculations including line-by-line and quantity estimates of labour, materials and other relevant variables. Some construction softwares are simply estimation tools whereas some are included within a larger construction management software.
Safety is another area to look at. Construction softwares will usually incorporate safety and quality tools within its framework. Also like the above aspects of the construction process touched upon can be on its own as a separate individual tool for construction companies to utilise.
This aspect of a construction management software aims to help assess, manage and mitigate risk on a construction site. It takes action to help provide meaningful data on current and previous construction projects that help you to determine risk and make better decisions. It should aim to reduce errors and hence mitigate damage in a project. Creating comprehensive reports on project information that can be visualised and summarised effectively giving important insight into a project is also important. So essentially reporting tools that gather data, such as measuring the amount of incidents that occur, the type of incidents and pointing out different hazards. This helps a project stay on track and not be derailed by defects and issues.
Finally Scheduling and workflows, the awaited aspect of construction. Again as aforementioned just like the above aspects this can be its own tool or as a part of a larger construction management project. Obviously as its own tool it can be assumed that there will be more detail given to this important aspect of a construction project as opposed to if it were included as part of a complete construction management software.
One of the most important aspects of a project is that it is on time. In one instance a project finishes on time or even early, the other unfortunate scenario is it finishes late which is bad for a builders reputation. Either that or there is inconsistency in the timely manner projects are finished which is also not the best look. Due to this it is imperative a construction must have detailed and realistic project work schedules. One completed action leads to another in a workflow along with relevant details on who completes each action and how.
An efficient workflow aids construction project management process by standardising a process, through detailing how it is done every single time. A good construction software will be able to aid project managers in standardising this process through completing different projects and collecting that data, so that future projects are easier through standardisation.
This standardisation enables the project manager more time to focus on other areas than continuously worrying about the workers and their progress. It can give ease of mind if implemented correctly due to the predictability of the proces. A construction software, especially a scheduling software should provide online tools such as gantt charts or other alternatives to provide visuals for the tasks.
A construction project can be seen as a series of mini projects that need to be held together and follow each other and these different phases or mini projects need to work together efficiently, which is an important task for a construction project manager. Each task needs to have a specific time allocated to it and the responsible members of the team required to carry out that task. Doing this allows you to allocate materials and other relevant factors to that task or project.
To put it simply, a construction scheduling software should enable you to collect information on tasks and prioritize those tasks, then add durations to those tasks and represent them on a gantt chart or any other appropriate visualisation tool. Following materials and other relevant factors accounted for in the segmented tasks, the different construction phases such as ‘laying foundation’ for instance can be grouped with its individual members, which can allow for communication between different groups.
Cloud collaboration in construction management software is generally an important tool, this is also the case in terms of a scheduling tool that focuses on scheduling mainly. Communication and collaboration is still important in a construction scheduling software as when you are assigning members and sub-contractors to a schedule, all stakeholders need to have the relevant information and cloud file sharing and uploading can be a help in this.
On top of this, a communication tool, even a simple messaging one, is an important feature to be included into a construction scheduling software as it also enhances collaboration as a scheduling tool while focused on the timely completion of a project, will need relevant stakeholders to be able to effectively communicate with one another.
A good construction software makes use of good project management functionality, estimate and financial/accounting tool functionality, job management, scheduling and planning and support functionalities and more. WunderBuild is a construction management software that aims to provide all of these functionalities and more to bring out the best outcomes for a project.
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