CMiC Construction and Capital Project Management Blog

The path forward for digital construction project management

Posted by Jeff Weiss on Fri, Nov 20, 2015 @ 09:49 AM

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The path forward for digital construction project management.

Construction firms have had to quickly embrace modern digital trends to remain competitive and maximize profit margins. From mobility and accounting to construction project management and beyond, fewer processes are being handled through traditional measures such as hand-written files and paper-based information governance. What's more, virtually every digital trend that has sprouted up in the past few years has had direct implications for the construction industry. 

Here are four of the more prominent modern movements in technology and their impacts on the construction industry:

  • Mobility: Construction has always been heavily rooted in remote work. Smartphones, tablets and mobile apps have helped to drive performance improvements across the sector. This will only be the case when mobile assets are properly managed and governed at all times. 
  • Cloud computing: Rather than having to purchase and maintain expensive servers internally, firms can now purchase IT services on an as-needed, hosted basis through cloud computing. This applies to software, platforms and infrastructure, helping to reduce capital expenditures and boost IT flexibility in one fell swoop. 
  • Big data: Thanks to the digitization of information and filing systems, construction firms can now become more intelligent through the use of big data analytics. When these businesses leverage cloud-based management software, they will be better positioned to capitalize on the power of analytics. 
  • The Internet of Things: Similar to mobility, the IoT is already having a major impact on field service management in construction. With sensors and connected devices, everything from standard projects to facilities management needs can be strengthened in the construction industry. 

Although these advantages are already being enjoyed by many organizations, the path toward digital transformation is no easy matter. Rather, construction firms need to recognize the difficulties and complexities involved ahead of their digital ventures. By leveraging construction management software tailored to the specific needs of the industry and provided by an experienced, specialized vendor, digitization efforts can be a bit more seamless.

Reasons behind digitization
International Data Corporation recently listed its predictions for the impact of digital transformation on the largest enterprises in the world, affirming that these strategies will become increasingly central to general business processes in the near future. According to the researchers, roughly 66 percent of the 2,000 biggest companies will have already incorporated digital transformation into their core strategies within the next two years, and for good reason. 

"Digital transformation is not just a technology trend, it is at the center of business strategies across all industry segments and markets," IDC Research Vice President Bob Parker asserted. "Enabled by the 3rd Platform technologies of social, mobile, analytics, and cloud, digital transformation represents an opportunity for companies to redefine their customers' experience and achieve new levels of enterprise productivity. Investment related to digital transformation will constitute the majority of growth in technology markets over the next five years and, as such, is becoming a priority for technology vendors as well."

The analysts argued that the next few years will be highly shaped by digital endeavors, and that these efforts will translate to doubled productivity among 60 percent of companies by the end of the decade. What's more, IDC stated that three-quarters of enterprises will incorporate information-centric digital processes and business models by 2018, and that 20 percent of workforce members will be using automated tools to complete their daily tasks that same year. 

Construction firms that have not yet started to automate their core processes through digital management solutions are simply not going to enjoy the most efficient and productive ebb and flow of operations. However, the researchers did state that 60 percent of businesses will need to appoint a new corporate executive position to navigate digital transformation, which might not be feasible for many construction firms. 

As such, managed IT services and hosted software solutions might be the best path forward, especially from a financial efficiency standpoint. 

Managed services excel
In the same vein of appointing a new official to run digital transformation processes, companies might struggle to handle all of the new technologies entering into their strategies without outside assistance. Business 2 Community contributor Buddy Marti recently argued that managed services will almost always be more advantageous than hiring more IT staff members for full time positions, speaking generally to organizations across industries. 

However, considering the fact that the average construction business is not going to have a large IT department staffed with data scientists, mobility specialists, software development gurus and the like, this industry might be especially well-suited to managed services. Marti listed some of the core reasons why the right managed solutions vendor can be a far more profitable choice than hiring more technology employees. 

For one, he stated that cost efficiency will generally be stronger given the fact that technologies and support are paid for on an as-needed basis rather than coming with massive up-front costs and long-term maintenance expenses. The author also stated that the range of tools, as well as the ease of provisioning more over time, involved in managed services are far more progressive than what the average IT department would be able to provide. 

Construction-centric software solutions for mobility and other needs will generally improve performance, but firms can get a much bigger advantage by working with a vendor that can customize the services to the unique needs of the company. This would involve a large range of tools available and plenty of options to personalize the contract, as well as adjust it over time seamlessly, for optimal functionality at all times. 

Marti went on to state that skills development and acquisition for IT-related jobs has been a continued issue for organizations in virtually every industry, and construction is no different. Managed services can alleviate some of the stress involved in skills gaps and talent shortages in the IT department. Finally, the author argued that relationships with clientele and others can be enhanced by the use of managed services, as other employees will have more time to focus on these matters rather than being bogged down by technology requirements. 

Tags: Construction Technology

Bracing for impact: Mobility's place in construction management

Posted by Jeff Weiss on Tue, Nov 10, 2015 @ 07:09 PM

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Bracing for impact: Mobility's place in construction management.

Enterprise mobility has become one of the more important trends to watch for in virtually every industry and region of the globe, as more operations are now reliant upon smartphones, tablets, portable computers and apps. Construction firms must take specifically aggressive and intelligent approaches to this particular trend, as so much of the industry's operations take place in the field. Suffice it to say that more advanced, comprehensive solutions will be necessary to manage mobility in construction. 

Despite the fact that so many companies have already taken measures to support mobile users, control data flowing through a range of devices and apps, and boost overall functionality across systems, studies have shown that the average firm is still behind in these processes. From significant increases in mobile-related security breaches and the birth of rogue IT to lack of user experience optimization, these efforts will be highly demanding on the average construction business. 

However, a combination of alignment with best practices and the deployment of specialized enterprise mobility management solutions can help to fuel improvements in these programs, and the time to get moving is now. Construction industry statistics have been far more favorable in the past two years than any other time since the recession, and those companies that have strong operational strategies in place will tend to enjoy stronger profit margins and increased opportunities to boost revenues. 

Thankfully, the massive increases in demand for management solutions has yielded a far more robust marketplace in which specialization is now somewhat common, specifically in terms of the development of solutions that are industry-specific. Construction firms will want to choose these, as they can help to maximize returns on investment through the comprehensive alignment of deployments to unique objectives and specific requirements. 

First, standard mobility
One of the tell-tale signs of mobility's spread is contained within the rapidly increasing size of the smartphone manufacturing market, which has grown to be one of the largest in the IT arena despite being only two decades old. In fact, up until the iPhone's release in 2007, enterprise mobility was not nearly as conceptually rich as it is today, yet in only eight years the technologies have entered into virtually every workplace in the pockets of employees. 

International Data Corporation recently released its latest report on the smartphone manufacturing market in the third quarter of this year, and affirmed that shipments hit the second highest level on record during this period. According to the analysts, roughly 355.2 million smartphones were shipped in the third quarter. These figures will likely continue to boom as competition between some of the giants of mobility heats up further going into the latter half of the decade.

The researchers also spoke to the vendor landscape and how the industry is playing out. 

"The vendor landscape and product offerings are really unique at the moment as many markets are seeing consumers become more aware of alternative buying options when it comes to paying for their smartphone," IDC Program Director Ryan Reith explained. "In mature and subsidized markets, we now have a wide range of operators offering equipment installation plans (EIP), as well as early trade-in options. At the same time the number of unlocked/off-contract offerings has increased significantly and it's slowly starting to resonate with consumers. Within these markets these moves will put pressure directly on Android OEMs with offerings that are greater than $500."

Regardless of which devices might be in use, construction firms will need to take steps toward optimizing their enterprise mobility strategies as soon as possible. This is partially due to the advanced demands of employees to be able to use their favorite devices and apps, as well as another major trend that will completely transform the mobility market before long. This, of course, is the Internet of Things, which has direct implications for construction firms given the potential applications of Web-connected gadgets and sensors in the field. 

Next, the IoT
The Internet of Things will come with many of the same challenges and opportunities that were presented by enterprise mobility, but will be far more complex given the much greater diversity of operating systems and hardware involved. It is worth noting that companies with strong enterprise mobility strategies in place will be inherently better-prepared to launch programs related to the IoT and excel in the marketplace as a result. 

Gartner's latest research on the IoT indicated that connectivity is rising quickly, with an estimated 6.4 billion connected devices to be in circulation by the end of next year. For perspective, this is 30 percent higher than the prediction for 2015. What's more, spending on these items will exceed $235 billion next year, and that is a 22 percent increase from the total investment funneled into the IoT this year. 

"Connected things for specialized use are currently the largest category, however, this is quickly changing with the increased use of generic devices," Jim Tully, a distinguished analyst at Gartner, affirmed. "By 2020, cross-industry devices will dominate the number of connected things used in the enterprise."

Once they have prepared their systems and management procedures for the advent of the IoT, construction firms will likely be able to improve upon their current performances in a range of fashions. For example, the use of sensors can be invaluable to handle facilities management responsibilities, while tracking performance of employees in the field can be dramatically streamlined by the use of Internet-connected gadgets and, more specifically wearable technology. 

From a productivity standpoint, the IoT will be a progressive method to improve collaboration, communication and information sharing across the construction business, creating more seamless experiences for staff members in the office and out on job sites. However, simply purchasing a gadget is not going to cut it. Instead, construction leaders need to act now on management software deployments to prepare for the IoT. 

With specialized solutions provided by a vendor that develops tools specifically for the construction industry, the average firm will have plenty of potential to improve as mobility and the IoT mature. 

Tags: Construction Technology

5 Keys to successful ECM in construction

Posted by Jeff Weiss on Thu, Nov 05, 2015 @ 06:58 PM

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5 Keys to successful ECM in construction.

Information management has evolved significantly in the past few years. This is largely due to the dramatic increases in global data volumes, a much more diverse range of formats and information generating technologies, the rise of advanced analytics and more. Construction firms must ensure that they are properly handling enterprise content management to maximize revenues and efficiency, as information will be at the center of performances in each line of business.

From financial reporting to customer relationship management and beyond, the types of data generated and stored by the average construction business have expanded significantly. Many organizations will try to handle different silos of information completely separately, which can lead to missed opportunities and waste before long. While each category will need a somewhat tailored framework of policies and management tasks, centralization is key to intelligent decision-making in the modern era.

Luckily, the ECM market has expanded and diversified alongside the transformation of demand and requirements, with more options available that have been invented to fit a specific market's unique needs. Construction companies would do well to identify a solution that has been built for their industry and is able to be further personalized ahead of deployment, as this will work to ensure alignment between the investment and core objectives, which subsequently boosts returns.

Depending upon the goals of each individual construction business, the specifications that dictate the correct choice will vary. However, certain core components of a proper construction ECM solution will be relatively consistent across the industry, and the following list represents those that will put leaders on the right path toward optimal outcomes:

1. Document management
Construction firms will be responsible for handling a range of document types. These can range from finance related materials such as invoices and contracts to customer-specific files such as reviews and general communications including emails. Having a centralized system in place to handle the entirety of document management will fuel stronger efficiency in information governance tasks, as well as more comprehensive intelligence regarding all of the moving parts at work throughout operations.

There are many options out there that can handle all of the documents involved, but construction firms should look for one that has been developed for their industry's unique needs.

2. Enterprise search
The old days of flipping through documents in a file cabinet have long since passed, and construction firms that are still handling their content in this fashion are likely not enjoying optimal performances across their operations. One of the main reasons for this is the fact that enterprise search tasks will inherently take far longer to complete when paper filing systems are still in place compared to digital content management.

According to Cottrill Research, employees spend an average of 9.3 hours each week searching for files, and that number is increasing. The firm also pointed to International Data Corporation's finding that 30 percent of the day is wasted on these tasks by information workers. Modern enterprise search tools can help to fuel more accurate and speedy completion of relevant processes, all the while fueling success in other initiatives such as those related to analytics.

3. Analytics tools
Organizations that effectively use advanced analytics will almost always be more resilient to market fluctuations and better positioned to excel in various lines of business. Although many firms have adopted a big data tool that will work separately from other IT assets, the best ones will be directly integrated into standing content management systems. In 2014, Information Week pointed out that 88 percent of the average company's content is not analyzed by big data tools.

For obvious reasons, this will make for poor returns on investment, as one of the main advantages of advanced analytics is the ability to assess a larger quantity and diversity of information.

4. Workflow
Workflow management prowess will often dictate the success or failure of ECM strategies. ECM apps are generally used to ensure seamless access to documents among authorized users, all the while tracking the movement of data across systems at all times for security purposes. When the right technologies are in place, ECM-related workflow management will be tighter, intelligent and reliable. 

Because companies are becoming more reliant upon digital technologies - including apps and gadgets - to manage their workflow, the ECM solution chosen should be compatible with all tools in place. This can enhance performance across the business. 

5. Mobile
ECM solutions that are not mobile-ready will not be nearly as advantageous for construction firms as those that are. Field service and remote work have long been central to most construction projects, and mobile devices and apps have helped to expand upon the power of workers operating outside of the physical office, as well as the managers overseeing activities. This is why mobile should be a priority when selecting an ECM tool. 

One study from Technavio forecast the enterprise mobility management market to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 18.5 percent between this year and 2019. Construction firms will likely be major drivers of this increased spending.

Mobile field service management, document access, real-time analytics and intelligence capabilities, automated file sync and offline functionality are among the more important characteristics to look for in an ECM tool. The right construction project management software will generally include these mobile ECM capabilities. 

Additional components of note
Construction businesses are tasked with managing a wide range of processes, workforce members, contracts and more, which can leave employees too busy to handle core ECM needs. As such, working with a managed service provider that does not only provide ECM software and solutions, but will also offer plenty of support to users and leaders every step of the way, can help to improve outcomes and returns on investment down the road. 

This is especially true when the provider can help to tailor the contract and the solutions themselves to the specific needs of clientele. Options are available today to get the support and power necessary to excel in ECM-related endeavors. 

Tags: Construction Technology

Preparing construction management for modern trends

Posted by Jeff Weiss on Fri, Oct 30, 2015 @ 09:40 AM

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Preparing construction management for modern trends

Information and communications technology has become more central to the average construction firm's strategies of late, with organizations in the industry embracing novel trends more quickly than those in other areas of the economy. Because the construction sector is so heavily rooted in the remote and field work, as well as management of a range of facilities, users and assets, mobility and the Internet of Things have been the most important trends to watch.

Construction companies will need to overhaul their IT service management and delivery models to ensure that these more modern progressions are advantageous, rather than being entirely disruptive or problematic from a security standpoint. In many situations, construction project management software has helped to keep all of the moving parts in order, while broader solutions such as enterprise resource planning apps are working to maintain continuity and intelligence in planning.

When construction leaders do not modernize their management frameworks and the technological solutions therein, they will be far less likely to enjoy progressive performance improvements through the deployment of other initiatives. Mobility and the IoT are perfect examples given how many areas of a construction business they impact, as well as how boundless the potential is for significant productivity, efficiency and control gains following implementation.

It is worth noting that these trends are still relatively new, and that many firms have likely been able to get by without aggressively embracing them thus far, but that will not remain the case for long. The most technologically advanced and progressively managed construction operations will tend to enjoy the greatest potential for revenue increases in the future, and the time is now to understand what needs to be done to get more out of mobility, the IoT and other ICT assets.

Optimizing the IoT
The IoT has already piqued the interests of many leaders in the construction sector, as smart devices and sensors can be used to more affordably and efficiently handle core demands and strengthen the functionality and value of current assets such as facilities management software. In the coming years, the average construction firm will likely begin to see devices related to the IoT enter into their workplaces and IT infrastructure whether leaders like it or not, largely thanks to the consumerization of IT. 

Grabbing the bull by the horns today can help fuel continuity in the near future. International Data Corporation recently explained some of the opportunities involved in the IoT, as well as what leaders will need to do to position their operations for success in these initiatives. 

"The Internet of Things is enabling organizations to reinvent how they engage with their customers, helping them to accelerate the speed at which they deliver their products and services, and effectively reinventing industry processes," IDC Vice President for the IoT and Mobile Carrie MacGillivray argued. "However, achieving these results will require close collaboration between business and technology executives on goals and actions relative to IoT and the impact these will have on business initiatives and outcomes."

The researchers stressed the importance of following along a relatively standardized path that would start out with small project deployments that focus on one aspect of operations, then build out to reach others. For a construction firm, this could entail the use of the IoT for one project that is currently in progress, or even one function therein such as reporting on the various successes and failures that have taken place. 

Toward the end, they will need to ensure that optimal management and control are achieved during each step involved in spreading the IoT to other aspects of their businesses. 

"The Internet of Things is enabling businesses and IT to connect, transform, and innovate across all aspects of a company, thus becoming a key driver in the digital transformation discussion," Vernon Turner, IDC senior vice president, affirmed. "Having a road map to navigate this journey is critical given that new IoT eco-systems and business rules will demand companies to create highly customized customer experiences."

Furthermore, IDC suggested business leaders focus on the melding of management frameworks pertaining to people, processes and technology to comprehensively handle the IoT. 

Mobility in focus
Transparency Market Research recently released a new report on the enterprise mobility market that found organizations spent roughly $86.4 billion on these solutions, devices and apps last year. While it might seem as though this trend will plateau, the researchers forecast the market to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 24.7 percent between 2014 and 2022, with global spending reaching $510.4 billion by the end of the study period. 

Construction firms have likely already begun to spend more on their enterprise mobility assets, such as the smartphones, portable computers and apps field workers are using on a daily basis. Integration between the management solutions in place specifically for mobility and those for other backend matters needs to be a priority to ensure that returns are strong and control is maintained when devices diversify and proliferate throughout operations. 

Construction firms might want to focus on the following matters to ensure that their mobility strategies, as well as those related to the IoT, are fueling performance improvements rather than disruption:

  • Enterprise resource planning: ERP software can be used to better manage construction firm spend management, and also work to the advantage of leaders who are trying to establish forward-thinking plans for the IT deployments. 
  • Mobility management software: Enterprise mobility management software is available today, but construction firms should look for one specifically built for their industry. The best option might be one that is included in a larger solution that helps to handle various construction management needs. 
  • Construction accounting: Reporting and accounting tools can go a long way toward optimizing the construction firm's investment management and control, and should be a priority ahead of mobile deployments. 

Finding a solution that can cover a range of needs will tend to reduce the expenditures necessary and drive the overall intelligence of construction management in the modern era. 

Tags: Construction Technology

7 Reasons to leverage construction management software

Posted by Jeff Weiss on Thu, Oct 29, 2015 @ 10:40 AM

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7 Reasons to leverage construction management software

The construction industry has been resurgent in the past few years, recovering from one of the more devastating recessions the United States has seen in decades and finally reaching a level of stability across the nation. However, as is the case in virtually any surging economy, competition is heating up significantly among industry players, and only the best-managed, most efficient and productive firms will enjoy the full breadth of opportunities now taking shape.

Construction management software can go a long way toward boosting performance across the board, especially when it is specifically developed to cater to the unique needs of organizations in the industry and can be further customized in accordance with objectives. With all of the moving parts involved in construction project management and general operational oversight, not using software can hold a business back from reaching and sustaining optimal performance.

Fewer companies - regardless of industry - are still managing their core processes with pad-and-paper or outdated systems, and more continue to expand their investments into apps and other tools to excel in their marketplaces. With the right software in place, construction firms can begin to increase revenues, reduce waste and progress from an operational standpoint, and specialized software will help to achieve these goals a bit quicker.

Here are seven top reasons to leverage construction management software today:

1. Customer relationship management
Client retention and prospect conversion can be difficult tasks, but are critical to maintaining strong financial performances over time. Construction management software that includes tools related to these needs will tend to boost the intelligence of decision-making, and improve the overall image of the brand in the eyes of prospects and current customers.

Econsultancy pointed out that CRM software can also improve relevant collaboration activities and help companies get more out of the client-related data they are generating. 

2. Change management
As many leaders have already begun to see, the rules of the road in the construction industry are transforming rapidly, as market fluctuations and the introduction of new trends can be highly disruptive when agility is at a minimum. Change management is all about intelligence and fluidity, both of which can be enhanced through the use of cloud-based construction software. 

In construction, these tools will generally reduce the strain placed on employees and leaders when major changes are necessary, all the while boosting outcomes of forward-looking strategies. 

3. Content management
Data is becoming more integral to the average construction firm's success as the years progress, especially as so many new trends are generating massive volumes of information that must be properly handled. Content and document management tools included in construction management software can help to reduce the risk of lost or exposed sensitive data, improve decision-making through more timely reception of insights and strengthen collaboration. 

Always look for a management solution that includes integrated document management to ensure that all of the moving parts involved in projects are taken care of properly. 

4. Analytics 
Modern project management solutions will generally include some form of analytics software, which can be used to get more out of the data generated, enhance decision-making accuracy and reduce risk all in one fell swoop. Firms that leverage business intelligence and analytics technology will tend to be more agile, efficient and productive, and in the construction industry, this can mean the difference between the acquisition of a contract or the failure to convert a prospect. 

Construction management solutions that include analytics can be used for a range of objectives and needs, from accounting and reporting to new client conversions and customer relationship performance improvements. 

5. Risk management
Corporate risk management has always been a challenging but critical aspect of construction oversight, but the volatility that has lingered following the recession makes these matters all the more complex. Companies that still rely on outdated approaches to risk management will not be nearly as resilient to threats and disruption as those that are using the best and most modernized software and other solutions to get the job done. 

Risk evolves quickly in construction, and differently for each firm, which is why a tool that has been tailored to the specific needs of each individual firm should be the highest on the provisioning list moving forward. 

6. Enterprise resource planning
ERP software has spread quickly across industries, as the technology can help to dramatically reduce errant decisions within resource planning frameworks that can lead to poor profit margins or untimely completion of various projects. What's more, solutions are available to help construction firms advance from a strategic standpoint, allowing for planning that goes much further into the future and still remains relevant and accurate. 

Resources can be difficult to manage when vendors and other counterparts are not consistent, while market landscapes will also impact these matters. With the right ERP software, risks can be mitigated and opportunities capitalized upon more fluidly and productively. 

7. Integrated experiences
This is perhaps the most important and prolific advantage of using modern construction management software, in that many of these tools will be comprehensively integrated with one another for the most seamless user experiences possible. When the various management tools involved in the solution are integrated, data management will be far easier and more beneficial in the grand scheme of decision-making and oversight. 

Spending on IT can also be reduced through an integrated management solution that brings various moving parts all under one roof, as packaged deals and a lack of weighty costs for incompatible services will not be nearly as common. Construction leaders should always work to identify a provider that can get the integration procedures done quickly and accurately for maximum functionality and optimal performance across management frameworks. 

At the end of the day, business leaders in the construction industry need to recognize the importance of efficient, modernized management, and deploy the software that most closely aligns with their objectives and requirements. Working with a construction-focused provider can go a long way toward getting these helpful solutions into play quicker. 

Tags: Construction Technology

How to avoid major construction project management blunders

Posted by Jeff Weiss on Mon, Oct 19, 2015 @ 05:06 PM

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How to avoid major construction project management blunders

When a construction project is launched, one of the worst things for a company's reputation and bottom line would be the failure of that job when it is already underway, as this can cost firms dearly by way of brand image and financial efficiency. Construction project management must be handled accurately and progressively to avoid the prospect of lost money and face, and strong performances can be achieved with the right software in place. 

Construction management software helps to give an additional layer of stability to virtually any aspect of oversight, automating some of the core tasks therein and strengthening employees' abilities to focus on strategic matters. In the coming years, competition in the sector is expected to heat up significantly, and deploying the right solutions can go a long way toward boosting the number of contracts a construction firm attains in these more saturated marketplaces. 

Common issues
Construction DIVE recently listed some of the more problematic issues that have arisen for certain contractors in the past few years, affirming that nearly all of them would be avoidable with a better approach to strategic management. Although some of the problems related back to design blunders, the fact remains that construction firms will be more likely to make grave mistakes when they are putting too many resources into tasks that can be better handled by software. 

For one, the source pointed to Vanir Construction Management, which worked on a contract job for a medical center, which went from a 100,000 square foot project to one that exceeded 144,000 square feet before the work even began. Suffice it to say that the biggest issue the firm experienced was related to budget, as expanding the project that much in such a short period of time made it difficult to keep finances in order, but the design aspects also faltered. 

According to the news provider, another example was found with the same construction firm that related to budget, in which the company contracting the business would not understand the basic tenets of expenditures in relation to the plans in place. In both of these situations, the use of more advanced financial management tools would have likely helped these construction companies guide their clientele in the right direction with hard facts and evidence. 

Striking the right chord
With all of the moving parts involved in the average construction project, leaders who take a traditional approach to management involving paper-and-pen planning will almost assuredly run into some issues in one job or the next. This can quickly begin to hinder the business image in the eyes of current and prospective clientele, taking away from revenue-building potential and likely costing the company dearly on the backend with respect to overhead and budget-related matters. 

Construction project management software that can be personalized and tailored to the requirements and objectives of each specific company will often work to avoid major problems within certain contract work while boosting the firm's overall efficiency. 

Tags: Construction Industry News

Best practices of risk management in construction

Posted by Jeff Weiss on Mon, Oct 19, 2015 @ 10:21 AM

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Best practices of risk management in construction

Risk management has long been a challenging aspect of corporate strategic oversight, but is one that must be properly handled to ensure continuity and resilience against threats of all kinds. In the past several years, leaders have had to deal with a range of new risk management demands thanks to fluctuations in market conditions, the introduction of new technologies and sustained volatility in the global economy, making these matters more complex than ever before. 

However, construction accounting software and other management tools have made it more feasible to handle risk in an efficient, timely and effective fashion across the industry, so long as companies are choosing the right vendors and solutions. With the best possible construction management software, as well as improved approaches to strategic oversight and planning, risks can be mitigated in real time without straining resources, budgets or employees. 

Suggestions from the pros
Software will certainly help to boost the accuracy and efficiency of risk management procedures, but companies must also have solid policies and strategies in place to guide use and drive the effectiveness of relevant processes. Xconomy recently listed some of the more important risk management standards and practices all companies must embrace to get the job done and maintain continuous, resilient operations from the time they open their doors onward. 

As a note, the source was pointing to matters pertaining to the earliest stages of business ownership, but even those construction firms that have been in operation for a long time - perhaps in the process of expanding - can apply these tenets to their own risk management overhauls. According to the news provider, mapping out the ebb and flow of finances, notably cash flow, will be critical to the integrity of virtually every strategy in place given the fact that the greatest risk of all might be a lack of budget. 

This ties into the concepts of financial planning, and many firms lose sight of how closely it is to risk management. Working hard to create accurate budget-related reports can go a long way toward boosting the resilience of a business to unforeseen challenges and threats. Xconomy added that business leaders will want to cover compliance at these stages as well, bringing in advisors for legal matters to look over the plans and ensure they are properly aligned. 

Provisioning software
Construction accounting software can help to not only boost the efficiency of core needs such as risk management, but also more broad-reaching processes such as core financials. The goal of these deployments should be to reduce the amount of repetitive tasks that are handled manually, as this change can quickly boost the accuracy of reporting related to compliance and financial record-keeping while improving employee experiences and operational efficiency. 

Rather than trying to leverage a range of solutions - one for each process - construction leaders ought to be looking for centralized options that can cover the majority of their needs all under one roof. 

Tags: Construction Financial Management

Centralizing Construction Management

Posted by Jeff Weiss on Thu, Oct 15, 2015 @ 10:52 AM

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Centralizing Construction Management

One of the more important tenets of optimal performance management is the efficiency of operations pertaining to oversight and control, meaning that leaders need to be able to complete relevant tasks quickly and accurately. When construction project management goes awry, waste will often become a factor, supervisors will grow less engaged and the accuracy of task completion can begin to deplete relatively quickly. 

On the other hand, companies that work to centralize their management frameworks into a more cohesive and powerful structure will tend to enjoy greater success across all lines of operations. From floor managers to supervisors on site and beyond, centralized construction project management can significantly reduce waste and strengthen the control decision-makers have over their processes on a daily basis. 

Prioritizing certain tools
CIO Magazine recently listed some of the more critical tools involved in project management today, affirming that there are certain ones that will be more necessary than others, but a range can lead to substantive performance improvements. Companies have become more reliant upon management software to handle core tasks, processes and responsibilities, especially those that automate repetitive reporting and accounting activities.

However, many firms have appeared to approach these deployments in somewhat of a disparate fashion, meaning that various different tools are used for each need, which can still be helpful but not optimal. Still, the source pointed to account management and customer relationship software as two of the primary needs that can lead to performance improvements across other projects, and these tend to be the most popular. 

According to the news provider, enterprise resource planning, communication and risk management are other key needs that should be among the highest priorities when looking to enhance project management performance, as each of these can have a significant impact on a company's bottom line. Finally, CIO Magazine pointed out that specialized options that are made for specific industries are sprouting up on the market and come along with significant opportunities when used properly. 

At the end of the day, it will be up to leaders to provision tools in an intelligent and efficient fashion, avoiding the prospect of choosing ones that do not align with core needs and objectives.

Construction-centric tools
The fact of the matter is that leaders have an ever-expanding multitude of software options available today, and this can make it highly difficult to sift through the clutter and find the right choice. However, construction leaders will want to first identify a solution provider that focuses its efforts on the construction industry itself, tailoring the various tools involved the the needs of the average business in this arena. 

Then, finding one that can be further personalized per the unique needs of the individual business will work in favor of the firm over time, reducing wasteful spending and bolstering user experiences across departments. Finally, as mentioned earlier, one solution that centralizes all of the tasks involved will help to streamline responsibilities and tasks more progressively. 

Tags: Construction Project Management

Construction firms ought to use CRM software

Posted by Jeff Weiss on Thu, Oct 15, 2015 @ 10:46 AM

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Construction firms ought to use CRM software

Customer relationship management has long been one of the more important components of operations for several reasons. For one, existing customers tend to be far more powerful drivers of profits than new ones, as less needs to be spent on conversions and more money comes in. Additionally, in the modern era of social media and enhanced communication, brand management is founded on the experiences of clientele. 

When construction firms try to leverage antiquated techniques to handle their customer data and CRM processes at large, they will simply not be able to enjoy optimal performances with respect to financial matters. CRM and other construction management software can go a long way toward boosting the efficiency of everyday tasks, all the while improving the decision-making and activities involved in client interactions, retention and monetization. 

Continued issues
Gartner recently asserted that the value of customer data is growing quickly, but many firms are struggling to get a handle on the relevant management frameworks that would help them to actually capitalize. Although the analysts stuck to the prospect of leveraging big data in their report, it has become clear that virtually all types of governance associated with client data need to be ironed out soon to avoid wasted opportunities and the potential to boost revenues. 

"Digital business is having a significant impact on customer data," explained Douglas Laney, a distinguished analyst at Gartner. "The growing wealth of information - from social media, location and context-sensitive data collected from mobile devices and the Internet of Things - is increasing the volume, velocity and variety of that information, radically expanding the scope of the 360-degree customer profile."

One suggestion from the researchers was to completely change the ways in which managers and leaders view information, ensuring that files and data - especially those related to clients - as they would any major asset such as equipment. At the same time, Gartner did warn that there are plenty of risk management procedures that need to be reconciled before moving to more advanced strategies, as customer data can be highly sensitive in some situations. 

With the right software, as well as stronger policies and strategies, construction firms can begin to improve their client experiences and set themselves up for better profit margins in the process. 

Specialized tools
Although many construction companies and other entities have largely used cookie-cutter, out of the box options for their CRM needs, this cannot remain the case for long given the need for specialization and personalization. Each business has its own requirements and objectives, and adopting software that cannot carefully align with those goals and needs will increase the risk of wasteful spending, poor functionality and a lack of control. 

Working with a solution provider that specializes in construction software matters - notably one that can help out with everything from CRM and accounting to project management and enterprise resource planning - will often be the best choice for companies in this industry. 

Tags: Construction Financial Management

Tech trends to watch in construction

Posted by Jeff Weiss on Wed, Oct 14, 2015 @ 02:11 PM

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Tech trends to watch in construction

Certain industries have been a bit more aggressive than others when it comes to embracing modern technologies, and while construction might not be the fastest, it has certainly gained steam in the past few years. Mobile solutions, management software, cloud computing, analytics and more have all become commonplace among these companies, and those that are quickest to deploy helpful tools will tend to enjoy efficiency and productivity improvements. 

Foresight will be critical in the coming years, specifically with respect to enterprise resource planning, as trends will come and go more quickly than many firms can imagine. Putting too much stock into one strategy might stifle opportunities to jump on the next big movement. With the right software and solutions provider, forthcoming advances in technology will be easier to adopt and deploy, leading to rapid development and execution of competitive strategies. 

What to look for
Gartner recently released some of the trends it believes will begin to take hold in the next year or so, then gain steam through the end of the decade, beginning with the Internet of Things. This particular movement is especially advantageous for industries that have a large stock in field work such as construction, as connected devices are helping to better manage employees and operations in a variety of locations from one central platform. 

According to Gartner, the trend will be called "the Device Mesh," and it will be characterized by the explosion of new gadgets that either come with one function or the ability to support third-party apps, though both styles will generate plenty of data. 

"In the postmobile world the focus shifts to the mobile user who is surrounded by a mesh of devices extending well beyond traditional mobile devices," Gartner Fellow and Vice President David Cearley explained. 

The next to have significant implications for construction firms in the coming is 3-D printing, which is already being used by some businesses in the United States and abroad to build parts and tools. Gartner pointed out that more materials will begin to enter the equation, giving users a wider range of opportunities to develop products. Construction companies will be able to use advanced equipment and materials to handle their projects in a more affordable fashion. 

Starting small
While the IoT is already a trend that construction firms should be planning for, 3-D printing might not truly begin to enter into the average workplace for a while. However, getting IT capabilities and management frameworks in order will be critical ahead of the intensification of these trends, and beginning with ERP software and other solutions can help to modernize current capabilities to hit the ground running with future market changes. 

Construction leaders should always consider leveraging the solutions of service provider that specializes in the industry, as this will tend to have better outcomes and yield stronger returns on investment. Whether the firm intends to migrate to the cloud or use on-premise tools, these services are readily available today. 

Tags: Construction Technology