Construction software is unquestionably one of the most critical components of any successful firm. And within this field, construction accounting software is among the most important individual solutions. Without high-quality construction accounting software, no company will be able to meet the demands of a constantly evolving industry. To remain competitive, organizations must be efficient, dependable and responsive when it comes to managing their finances, and that is only possible with the use of top-of-the-line software solutions.
But obtaining the right software package is easier said than done. There are numerous options on the market, and it can be difficult for a given firm to make the ideal choice.
This is why it is so important for construction firms to have their priorities in place when evaluating software options. And while there are countless attributes to factor in, every firm should put speed near the top of its list.
For large construction firms that regularly take on numerous major projects, each decision can have significant repercussions. Executives, managers and other personnel need to have as much information as possible at their disposal to guide the company and optimize performance.
Robust, responsive construction accounting software is essential in this regard. More specifically, organizations should seek out software solutions that offer real-time functionality, as this level of information access and accuracy can have a extremely positive influence on return on investment (ROI). Decision-makers need to be able to analyze and consult both big picture financials and the smaller details of a given project in order to choose the right course of action for the construction firm.
By choosing a construction accounting software package that emphasizes speed, firms can become far more effective in countless ways, leading to far greater success.
A major construction project is, without question, a complex process. For a firm to see success at every stage of operations, from cost estimates to design to execution, many moving parts must work together in just the right way. Every employee needs to work in concert, as collaboration is key.
To achieve this goal, it is imperative for firms to have the right tools at their disposal. And among the most crucial of these is document management software.
Employing a high-quality document management software program allows employees to easily and efficiently exchange plans, documents and all manner of communications throughout multiple phases of a given project, including the design and approval processes. This makes it easier for workers to not only collaborate on a particular project, but also move on to the next project with ease.
Finding the right solution
Considering how important document management is to construction success, the question becomes how a firm can choose the best option for its particular needs.
For one thing, construction firms should make sure that the document management solution allows employees to mark up documents and, critically, these alterations and comments must be visible to co-workers and partners, regardless of their physical locations. Additionally, older versions of documents must remain accessible, so the progression of a project can be revisited at any time. This way, any changes can be undone if necessary.
Furthermore, these features should apply to a range of document types, including Microsoft Office files, CAD documents and more.
Perhaps even more importantly, an effective document management solutions should be a part of a greater, complete construction software package. If document management is part of a comprehensive solution, silos disappear, eliminating compatibility issues while improving efficiency and overall productivity.
In the wake of the global economic slowdown, many industries in virtually every region have seen painfully slow recoveries. Without a doubt, the construction industry was among those negatively affected. In both the industrial and home-construction sectors, firms saw business evaporate as demand for new building development plummeted.
However, in recent months there has been significant evidence of a gradual resurgence in regions around the world. Most recently, the Master Builders Australia (MBA) report has begun to suggest that the country's construction industry will likely see a slow recovery over the course of the next few years.
Construction in Australia
The report found the Australian building and construction industry is likely to see a mixed recovery in 2015 and 2016, while the intervening years will remain rather challenging for firms.
However, this trend does not apply to the the engineering construction sector. Total activity in this area is expected to increase to $121.7 billion before the end of 2013, but will then it will likely drop 12 percent over the course of the next three years, totaling $107.7 billion by the end of 2016.
"After very strong growth, engineering construction activity in the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland are forecast to fall back, albeit remaining at extremely high levels in an historical context. Victoria and Tasmania look set to benefit from stronger infrastructure spending," explained Peter Jones, chief economist for MBA.
The residential building sector will likely see even better performance. The value of residential building work in Australia will likely see marginal growth in 2013, reaching $46.1 billion, but will reach $60.7 billion over 2015-16.
Overall, the report found that non-residential building work will decline somewhat this year, but will see growth in subsequent years. According to the report, this growth will be driven largely by the commercial and industrial building sectors. However, weakness in social and institutional sectors, as well as education-related building, will slow down total growth in these areas.
Profits in lean times
As the MBA report highlighted, while the long-term expectations for the construction industry in Australia are positive, growth will be slow in many key sectors. Consequently, firms focusing on these areas must do everything they can to maximize profits during these relatively lean times.
Utilizing the right tools is critical for achieving this goal. Notably, firms must invest in high-quality construction software to achieve optimal efficiency and productivity.
Perhaps most notably, it is essential for firms to prioritize comprehensive, end-to-end solutions. Too often, construction firms overlook this aspect when considering various software solutions. Instead, they look for individual programs to address individual needs.
The problem with such an approach is that firms will inevitably encounter silo complications, as the various programs will not necessarily interact with one another successfully, which hurts collaboration capabilities and efficiency.
An end-to-end approach, however, can ensure that all information is interchangeable. This lets the firms save workers' time and energy, which leads to better overall productivity and profits.
One of the most important aspects of achieving success in the construction field is maximizing efficiency. If inefficiencies creep into a firm's operations, it will inevitably struggle to compete with rivals.
To achieve efficiency, construction companies need to optimize their allocation of resources. And to accomplish this goal, it is necessary to have an extremely accurate idea of the costs the firm faces.
That is why advanced, effective job costing software is such a critical resource for construction companies. A high-quality job costing software solution can help a firm to not only gain a better, more holistic view of the costs of a given job, but also improve collaboration by making this information more readily available to relevant personnel. This increase in overall communication can further add to a firm's efficiency.
This raises the question of how a given company can choose the right job cost estimate software. There are many options on the market, but they are far from equal. Picking the right software package can make a tremendous difference for a firm's bottom line and ability to complete jobs successfully and on-time.
Essentially, firms should look for a number of key traits. First and foremost, the software must be reliable. Companies must be able to completely depend on the results produced by these programs. It is therefore essential for firms to conduct significant research, looking at other companies' testimonials and reviews, to find a job cost estimate solution that has received wide acclaim.
Secondly, construction companies should look for solutions that are easy to use. If a software package is too bulky, its utility will be significantly undercut.
Lastly, organizations should seek out integrated solutions. A comprehensive software package that includes job cost estimation tools will be more efficient and effective, and eliminate silo issues that may arise from disparate solutions.
As every construction manager is well aware, collaboration is a critical component of virtually every aspect of a given construction project. Given the complexity of these endeavors, ineffective or insufficient collaboration will likely lead to miscommunications, inefficiencies and mistakes. Countless construction efforts have been undermined by unsatisfactory collaboration among key participants.
The question construction firms must answer, then, is how to optimize collaboration.
Obviously, corporate attitude will play a role here. Employees at every level must be encouraged to work together with not only each other, but also external organizations that are participating on a given project.
But a commitment to collaboration in theory is not sufficient. To achieve these goals, firms must also invest in the ideal collaborative tools.
One of the most useful examples of these resources is collaboration management software. High-end collaboration management software can help a construction firm throughout every stage of the development process. Such technology can help personnel track all communications with vendors during the bid process, through features including the creation of unlimited meeting minutes.
Beyond the bid process, collaboration management software enables instantaneous communication among project actors at all times. This optimizes the firm's efficiency, as every stage of design and implementation can be performed quicker and more effectively.
Enterprise integration needed
However, it is important to note that there are significant differences between available collaboration management software solutions, making it essential for companies to choose the tools which can best benefit their operations. Notably, firms should look for collaboration solutions that can be integrated across the enterprise. This negates the possibility of silos developing, and eliminates the need for redundant data entry by different personnel and departments.
For any construction firm to prove successful, it must leverage the right tools. Most obviously, businesses must make use of high-quality, industry-leading equipment to ensure projects are completed with speed, efficiency and dependability while minimizing costs.
Less obvious, but just as important, is the need for advanced construction software. Sophisticated, robust construction software can help firms greatly improve their operations, providing a key differentiator and advantage over competitors in the industry.
The value of high grade construction project management software was recently highlighted by a survey from Software Advice.
The study, called the 2013 Construction Project Management Benchmark Report, included responses from 230 industry professionals. Of these, 94 percent indicated they utilize software of some kind to manage their projects successfully.
Notably, the report highlighted the value of specialized, rather than generic, construction software options. Sixty-one percent of respondents indicated they rely on specialized software, and of these, 72 percent of respondents said that these solutions meet their needs. However, of the 25 percent of respondents using generic software, only 18 percent felt this same way.
Perhaps even more notably, 29 percent of specialized software users said that they deliver projects under budget virtually all the time, according to the report. Less than one-fifth of those professionals using generic software answered similarly.
In addition to the advantages inherent to advanced construction software, the report also highlighted some of the challenges faced by industry professionals. For example, when it comes to project management, participants indicated that the greatest challenge is ensuring that all team members utilize the same project management system. This was followed by the difficulty of standardizing project documentation to make sure necessary information is available to all team members.
The report also found that inaccurate initial project estimates make up a leading challenge preventing companies from delivering projects within budget. According to the report, this finding emphasizes the significance of the pre-construction phase.
The construction software challenges cited by the study's participants may suggest a greater need for end-to-end software solutions within construction firms. Companies that rely on disparate software systems will oftentimes experience silos, which can greatly undermine the efficiency of the organization as a whole. Notably, irregularities can have the effect of hindering collaboration among employees.
Choosing a comprehensive construction software solution can optimize efficiency and performance, giving firms a critical edge over competitors.
For large-scale construction companies, few resources are more essential than project management software. Without advanced solutions in place, firms will be unable to effectively execute construction projects, particularly when these projects involve millions of dollars, hundreds of workers and countless components.
Identifying the need for effective project management software is easy. The more significant challenge is finding the right solution for a given organization's needs. Obviously, there is no single answer for every firm, as each construction company will have its own unique requirements. However, there are certain traits which all high-quality project management software should possess.
Perhaps the most significant of these is the ability to offer end-to-end services.
Unfortunately, many project management solutions fail to meet this standard. Instead of selecting an end-to-end product, construction firms often invest in discrete programs and applications, each one designed to handle a different aspect of the company's project management needs. For example, one may be dedicated to communication management, another document management and a third site management. Meanwhile, completely separate programs may be in place to provide for firms' collaboration needs.
Each of these resources is absolutely essential for the successful completion of construction projects. However, when they are compartmentalized in this way, inefficiencies will almost inevitably develop. Data will have to move between programs, instead of remaining in a single coherent application. This will eat up valuable time and company resources.
Even more problematically, compartmentalized solutions may create interoperability errors, as data entered via one system may not be accessible when using another. As a result, personnel of all levels may struggle to perform their job functions as they fail to leverage relevant data.
Not only does such a situation damage the company's overall productivity, but is also diminishes worker satisfaction. Consequently, those firms that utilize siloed solutions for project management may experience diminished employee retention rates.
All of the problems cited above may be avoided through the use of more advanced, comprehensive, end-to-end project management solutions. Such deployments eliminate the risk of interoperability issues, as all of the data is entered and stored via the same system. As a result, all authorized personnel will have consistent, easy access to critical job information.
End-to-end project management solutions are more flexible, efficient and effective in virtually every regard. For construction firms of all sizes, and particularly large-scale companies, these options are not only beneficial, but absolutely essential.
Now more than ever, technology plays a critical role for businesses. Firms all of all sizes and in every sector rely on a wide array of technological resources in virtually every one of their operations. If employees do not have access to the latest, most advanced IT solutions, the firm as a whole will likely struggle to thrive in competitive markets.
This trend undoubtedly applies to the construction industry. IT in this sector advances frequently and by significant leaps, providing a major edge to those organizations that are quick to embrace new technologies. However, as a result of difficult economic conditions, firms in some regions are not fully taking advantage of these options.
As a new report revealed, this is precisely what is happening in Australia, creating the possibility that construction firms in this area may be putting themselves at risk of falling behind when it comes to IT.
IT investments lagging
The study, Ready or Not? Technology Investment and Productivity in Australian Businesses, was conducted by the Australian Industry Group and based on a survey of almost 350 chief executive officers and discussion groups in the country, Design Build Source reported. The study concluded that insufficient investment in IT solutions is a problem throughout several Australian industries, including construction. As a result, construction firms are not capitalizing on all of the potential benefits offered by new technologies.
According to the survey, the majority of participating Australian construction firms do not plan on changing their technology investment levels in 2013. However, the number of participants that plan to reduce their spending in this area was twice as high as the number that expect to increase their IT investments. Of the four major sectors covered by the study, the construction industry saw the lowest overall commitment to greater IT spending this year, the news source noted.
"Lifting productivity is Australia's key long-term economic challenge," said Innes Willox, chief executive of the Australian Industry Group, the news source reported. "There is no question Australian businesses face tremendous opportunities over the coming decades and improvements in productivity will be the foundation for taking advantage of these opportunities and driving ongoing improvements in Australia's standard of living."
However, businesses in this region, including construction firms, can only see the benefits that come from these opportunities if they invest in the necessary technological resources.
A case in point
Demonstrating the potential gains to be had for tech-savvy construction firms in the region, the Australian Industry Group report highlighted the case of John Holland. This infrastructure construction specialist firm has a Melbourne office which features a number of sophisticated IT initiatives, including programs for integrating tablet, television, video-conferencing and smartphone technology.
As a result, the news source noted, engineers working onsite can instantly gain access to drawings and safety documents, as well as provide reports on project management goals and progress. Thanks to these IT investments, the firm has become more efficient and more committed to quality and safety.
A variety of options
In addition to the mobile-integration IT tools utilized by John Holland, the report also highlighted a number of other key technologies available to Australian construction firms, the news source pointed out. Among the most notable of these were Building Information Modeling (BIM) tools and job costing software, which can play a key role in tracking the various expenses associated with a given project .
Overall, the report concluded that there is a definitive link between IT investment and productivity in every sector, including the construction industry.
2012 was an excellent year for the Uruguayan construction industry. As the Merco Press noted, investment in this industry increased 26.5 percent in 2012 relative to the year prior. However, despite this progress, the news source reported that it is very likely that 2013 will present a challenge to construction firms in this region.
A difficult road ahead
Speaking to the news source, Julio Villamide, a real estate expert, noted that private investment accounted for more than three-quarters of total construction investment in Uruguay last year. This figure was 62 percent above the average of the past 15 years.
Unfortunately, 2013 is unlikely to sustain this growth, Villamide indicated. A number of factors, including reduced productivity, increased legal responsibilities and greater labor costs will likely put a damper on the industry.
To compensate for this slowdown, construction firms working in Uruguay need to optimize their efficiency, and one of the best ways of achieving this goal is utilizing an effective, high-end construction software solution. This solution should be robust and comprehensive, allowing for cost savings and improved productivity throughout every aspect of the organization.
As the marker for new buildings continues to grow quickly in the United States, construction workers of all kinds are currently in extremely high demand, according to a recent report from The Associated Press.
The news source reported that U.S. builders and subcontractors "are struggling to hire fast enough" to meet the demand for new construction work. Additionally, workers in the industry with heavily desired skills are now demanding higher salaries.
According to The Associated Press, there are numerous occupations which are in particularly high demand now, including construction superintendents and purchasing agents.
This labor shortage is primarily affecting the home construction industry. According to the news source, the problem is largely the result of workers leaving the housing industry following the housing market bubble burst. Many of these professionals went on to find work in commercial building, as well as other industries, including mining and natural gas drilling.
The growing demand, which is leading to rapid increases in the scope and number of projects firms are undertaking, suggests that now more than ever, companies need to invest in high-end construction software solutions. Without software capable of managing more projects of greater complexity, firms will struggle to meet demand and achieve their business goals.