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6 Benefits Contractors Realize When Deploying Software Designed for Construction Firms

Check out the benefits of software designed for construction firmsFinding the right software package for your construction firm can become tedious and overwhelming. Do you feel comfortable working in a system designed for multiple industries, or do you want to deploy software designed for construction firms? Whether you have owned multiple Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems before, or if you are just looking to purchase your first solution, this guide will help you identify the features included in a complete construction software package that will not only meet but exceed your needs and expectations as your firm continues to grow.

Must Have Construction Software Features for Contractors

When it comes to software designed for construction firms, here are the must have features that will benefit your firm:

  1. Collaboration Tools to Enhance Communication: Because few construction projects are completed by a single company, contractors rely on collaboration tools that help project teams communicate and work better together. Popular functionality in collaboration tools includes plan room tracking where project documents and communications can be shared, modified and tracked with an audit trail.
  2. Productivity Tools: Workflows and dashboards are powerful features that help you design the flow of information, streamline communications, and automate and control key tasks that occur across your organization.
  3. Business Intelligence for the Entire Organization: Top construction firms go beyond simple report generation. Key operational and financial data should be presented throughout your construction management system to provide at-a-glance overviews of your projects, operations, and financial performance. Takes BI further by leveraging active Business Intelligence – set alerts and control the flow of communication and tasks across your organization.
  4. Integration Capability: In today’s competitive technology ecosystem integration capability is a must have. Firm’s need the ability for all their applications to seamlessly communicate with each other, virtually eliminating any double-entry and ensuring that the most up-to-date and complete information is available to you regardless of the task you are performing.
  5. Mobile-Friendliness for a Workforce On-the-Go: Your employees are constantly on the move and you need the ability for your software to run on virtually any device. Mobility allows your office staff to work across multiple monitors at their desks while project managers can access complete project information in the field on their tablets.
  6. Modern Technology for a Modern Workforce: When construction software is designed specifically for the cloud, you enjoy the benefits of a system that allows you to work from just about any connected device, anywhere and anytime, by simply launching a web browser. Break free from on-premise systems and move to the cloud and start enjoying this convenience without sacrificing control.

Add Long-Term Value with Software Designed for Construction Firms

To help you choose what construction software will work best for your firm, take some time to consider your typical project workflow. This process will help you decide what specific features will be essential for the unique challenges facing your construction business. Talk to your team and get an understanding of their current processes; it will be easier to get them on board with embracing new technology if it fits in with their existing methods and procedures with minimal disruption.
Have you already had experience using project management software for your construction business? Share your stories in the comments below!

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Changing the Game with Web Based Construction Management Software

Web Based Construction Management SoftwareSuccessfully managing complex construction projects requires commitment from your entire team, from accounting through project management and field operations. You’ve spent thousands of dollars and man hours winning work – you cannot afford to drop the ball during the project phase. The importance of executing projects with accuracy and efficiency is driving contractors to seek out better solutions to bolster their operations. Enter web based construction management software.

Web Based Construction Management Software vs. On-Premise

When your construction firm adopts a web based construction management software you can access your information from any Internet-connected via a browser. An interface optimized for the internet means you spend less time digging through menu items and more time managing your projects. Web based software provides you with the critical information you need in the field without sacrificing the analytics and detail you need in the office. Additionally, when your construction project management software is powered by the cloud you improve security while simultaneously freeing up your information technology team to tackle the day-to-day challenges facing your team.

What Features Should You Look for in Web Based Construction Management Software?

Cloud based construction management software is designed to help you streamline your operations and improve profitability. Here are three reasons contractors are ditching on-premise systems and moving to the cloud:

  1. Project Cost Management | The bottom line for every project manager is the financial bottom line – keeping projects on track to a profitable result. Complete solutions track real-time job costs and progress data and turn the information into actionable data.Your solution should include the ability to create a project health dashboard using numerous data sources that track project key performance indicators such as cost-to-complete, work-in-progress, and earned revenue. Reduce project induced stress with the ability to drill down directly into the project details that are affecting profitability – issues such as unbilled change orders, delayed approval on submittals, or unpaid invoices.
  2. Project Collaboration | Communication and collaboration is often cited as one of the biggest differentiators between a successful and disastrous project. You need the ability to easily share information with your entire project team with a singular cloud-based application that allows you to store all of your project documents from plans and specs to financials and submittals; accessible anywhere from any device.
  3. The Power of the Cloud | Many contractors struggle with consolidating and organizing data from multiple applications to manage their projects. Complete web based construction management software solutions provide a singular platform for viewing critical operational data that serves every team member. Keep your project staff on the same page by providing them with customizable dashboards that enable them to select from a library of applications to view the information that is most important to their role, then drill down into details with one click.

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See why we recommend Spectrum Project Management as the only complete web based construction management software for tracking and managing the flow of work – and the flow of cash – associated with a construction project.

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Construction CRM for Contractors: Uncompromised Business Intelligence

Construction-CRM-for-ContractorsContractors often tell us that they are seeking better ways to sync their firm’s business intelligence between their office staff and road warriors. Firms that fail to implement a mobile-friendly Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system waste time and money, lose critical project intelligence and struggle to deliver on customer expectations. It’s time to ditch outdated spreadsheets and manual processes and see how you can win more work with a mobile-friendly construction CRM system designed specifically for contractors.

Why Should I Choose a Construction CRM System Designed for Contractors?

A centralized CRM solution enables contractors to cultivate relationships and gain valuable insights into account/project management efforts. But what does this mean for your firm? Construction CRM for contractors means bringing together data from all project related data sources to provide a comprehensive real-time view of each customer or opportunity. This real-time knowledge provides your team with the metrics and data needed to make informed decisions in a quick, yet calculated manner.

What Does CRM Mean for the Key Players at My Construction Firm?

A construction CRM system benefits each member of your firm, including:

  • Business Owners | Quickly log critical information or reminders from the office or while on the road. Never lose a critical contact’s information ever again by storing contact information in one centralized location. Readily available intelligence allows your business development staff to go out and produce, and track results.
  • Project Managers | Gain a 360-degree view of your projects by combining customer information with job status updates and project financials. Doing so will help you outperform the competition and win more repeat work.
  • Construction Accountants and Controllers | Adopt an integrated construction CRM solution to help monitor the critical financial sources that impact your firm, including bids and opportunities, current jobs, marketing programs and sales opportunities. Align your accounting, project management, and CRM systems to better understand what efforts are working, and what efforts need attention.
  • Business Development and Marketing | Never miss out on an important project again! Bid tracking and management tools allow you to understand what bids are in the pipeline, when each is due, who is working on them and document the next step. Reporting tools provide you with critical insights into profitability by customer, division, territory and more.

How Does a Construction CRM System Impact Future Growth?

The answer is simple; a CRM solution designed for contractors means that as your business grows, your established contacts and relationships grow with it. It is important to not only track valuable customer data but to do so in a way that promotes sharing amongst your team. Promote growth and sharing and consider taking your customer data into the cloud with an all-in-one mobile-friendly CRM solution that consolidates all your information into an easy to access system.

Improve Business Intelligence with a Construction CRM for Contractors

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Managing Risk: 4 Essential Elements of a Construction Litigation Response Plan

Smart Guide: Construction Litigation Response PlanThe threat of litigation is a concern that hangs over all construction contractors like a black cloud. Multi-million dollar lawsuits are commonplace in the construction industry and can quickly bankrupt even the most prestigious construction firm. A recent Construction Executive Risk Management article places the percentage of large companies spending more than $1 million dollars on litigation at 71% in 2013, up from 53% the year before. Rather than ignoring the eventuality of litigation, some advance preparation can help prevent litigation costs from spiraling out of control. Similar to an Emergency Response Plan, contractors should consider creating a Construction Litigation Response Plan to prepare for those costs incurred during the inevitable project litigation.

Why You Need a Construction Litigation Response Plan

When a complaint is filed against a contractor, advanced planning can defray many costs that can arise from having to move quickly and without enough time to find cost-effective solutions to technical and legal problems. Much the same way insurance protects assets against unforeseen losses, a litigation mitigation budget can help protect against unforeseen costs that can throw a balance sheet into the red. Let’s look at what to include in a Construction Litigation Response Plan and mitigation budget to help reduce expenses.

Streamlining Human Resource Costs

As soon as litigation is anticipated, costs begin to accrue as employees try to plan a response and course of action, which can be quickly decided upon if the company has an established Litigation Response Plan. Contractors with protocols in place speed up response time and reduce HR costs.

Your Litigation Response Plan should document the appropriate legal counsel for certain types of litigation, such as contract disputes, change orders or defects. To ensure that your company does not negotiate rates while in a time-sensitive position, pricing should already be established with essential service providers and documented in your company’s Litigation Response Plan

Curtailing Uncertainty Costs

Just as a contractor structures bids using the most accurate information available, an e-discovery vendor or legal service provider will attempt to do the same. Your greatest leverage in negotiating service pricing will depend on your ability to identify your company’s potential exposure on both a liability and service expense level.

For instance, the more information your company has regarding how many people may be involved with (or subject to) discovery in a given matter, how much data must be culled, or how many places must be searched for relevant evidence, the faster you’re able to ascertain an estimate to put your company in the best position to negotiate service pricing. A Litigation Response Plan that provides the quickest route to determine these facts can help reduce the assessment of uncertainty costs.

Identification & Collection Cost Reduction

Your Construction Litigation Response Plan should also incorporate a method for determining the relevant people in control of evidence (custodians) based upon scope of the matter as determined by counsel. Each matter may be different, but all will share the common requirement to determine the responsible parties. The responsibility of parties will be related to the expected duties of the employee based upon position, as well as the employee’s actual duties as determined by the self-disclosure of their actions or contents of their files and correspondence.

Discovery costs can be vastly reduced by setting up centrally managed data repositories and establishing protocols for saving potentially relevant information. It is always considerably more expensive to gather disorganized data than to collect information from a central location, particularly if it only stores one copy of the evidence. Invest in software to enable the rapid retrieval of evidence to help dramatically reduce litigation expenses and response time, and show ready compliance in the eyes of a court.

Production Cost Management

To avoid receiving data in an unusable format, include data delivery standards in your company’s Litigation Response Plan. The party that takes the initiative in establishing the production format for electronic evidence (e.g., single-page images, a metadata load file, an image load file, and associated text files for searching) can often set the tone for an orderly and efficient exchange of evidence.

Such production costs as printing or making copies are based on volume and complexity of the task requested. The more orderly and attainable the planned specifications are, the lower the costs and smoother the process. A modest investment in planning and software can avoid a lot of added pain in an already unpleasant situation.

Technology’s Role in Litigation Management

Standard operating procedures and centralized documentation are key elements in creating a Litigation Response Plan and mitigating litigation costs. Fortunately, new technologies and software specifically designed for the discovery process in construction have emerged to make locating and culling through evidence faster and easier. Until recently, contractors were limited to online file sharing and FTP sites for centralized storage and distribution of their project documents. Those with access to these types of sites, including subcontractors and vendors, could view and edit documents, but couldn’t track project activities or communication. Information in the form of plans and specifications could be uploaded to the site, but versioned documents and audit trails simply did not exist.

Recent advancements in technology have enabled the development of construction-specific documentation software that gives all project participants access to centralized information. These applications provide GCs, subcontractors, vendors, and potentially even legal counsel the ability to access all necessary files and evidence from one location. Terabytes of plans and specifications are not only easily stored, but supporting documentation in the forms of e-mails, RFIs, submittals, and project logs also provide the ability to recreate an entire project or a specific phase at any given time – whether during construction or years after construction is completed.

Proactive Risk Management

Litigation is inevitable. While legal fees, discovery costs, and other direct costs cannot be avoided, the indirect ones can be mitigated with the right steps. Responding to litigation requests, finding relevant materials, and culling through documents can tie up employee resources. Savvy contractors that take a proactive approach to their legal plans mitigate their risks and financial liabilities.

With a sound Construction Litigation Response Plan and appropriate technology in place, significant cost savings can be achieved. Regardless of the outcome of the litigation, contractors that carefully plan can significantly reduce the impact of indirect litigation costs and help focus their efforts on building their businesses.

 

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Overcoming Challenges & Hurdles Facing the Modern Construction Firm

Construction firms face a series of challenges and hurdles. From recruiting specialized talent to reducing project risk reach role in a construction company faces a unique set of challenges. The below infographic provokes a series of questions for each critical role within your organization.

Critical questions facing your construction firm

Hear from Your Peers

As Vanessa Redgrave said, “Ask the right questions if you’re to find the right answers.” Learn more about how your construction firm can go to the next level and see how your peers are overcoming the challenges & hurdles of the construction industry.

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Cloud Computing Takes the Preakness: Dominate the Race with SaaS Construction Software

saas construction softwareAs I watched the Preakness on Saturday and cheered as Cloud Computing overtook Classic Empire (don’t you love horse names?), I couldn’t help but compare the similarities between the horse race and the modern-day decision most construction firms are facing. In horse racing, it rarely pays to be reactive as the field is full of highly competitive top thoroughbreds. The same can be said for highly contested construction bidding where firms seek any advantage to edge out their competition. Let’s examine how outdated business software is keeping your firm at the back of the pack while top construction firms are ditching on-premises solutions in favor of SaaS construction software.

SaaS Construction Software vs. On-Premises

Many business owners are making the move over to cloud computing software from traditional on-premises solutions. But why? As technology has improved, SaaS (Software as a Service) products have become the industry standard for data security, functionality, and ease of use. So, what are the big differences between SaaS Construction Software and on-premises software?

 Speed of Implementation | SaaS products utilize a ready-to-deploy platform which has been optimized for quick deployment. Traditional on-premises solutions require the set-up and maintenance of expensive hardware and software.
Cost of Ownership | Typical SaaS deployments provide a lower cost of entry and reduce the internal resources required to keep things running smoothly over the entire shelf life. On-premises solutions typically entail higher entry and operations costs due to ongoing infrastructure upkeep and support.
• Concentrated Security | SaaS platforms are powered by cloud technology such as Amazon Web Services which handles accreditations, data encryptions, hardware security modules and even physical security – a multitude of factors that contribute to securing your business information. On-premises solutions require your on-site administrator to focus their time and training around deploying specialized software and practices to keep your data secure.
• Unlimited Scalability | Growing firms need to stay cognizant of future IT costs. SaaS solutions can scale up or down with little time or effort, without wasting resources. On-premises solutions require additional server hardware to accommodate for increases in users.
• Compliance with Government Standards | Cloud computing platforms go through rigorous third party audit processes. These third-party audit reports confirm that cloud providers uphold a standard to provide reliable security, confidentiality, processing integrity and privacy principles. Users of on-premises solutions handle the control of their data and systems environment. Administrators of on-premises systems are responsible for the validation and compliance with government standards.

World-Class SaaS Construction Software: See it in Action

It’s time your firm started spending more time in the winner’s circle! See how best-in-class SaaS construction software can help you sweep the competition and win the next big project!

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Lessons from the Atlanta I-85 Bridge Collapse: The Value of Construction Project Management Software

How the Atlanta i85 bridge collapsed proved the value of construction project management softwareAs the I-85 bridge in Atlanta, GA reopens this week we can’t help but reflect on how the contractor was able to go above and beyond to complete this complex project.  Atlanta ranks as the 8th most congested city in the world, making the collapse of one of the City’s primary corridors a crisis situation. The importance of selecting a contractor with the right construction project management software in place to manage and complete this job ahead of schedule was apparent in the incentives offered by the Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT).

Eliminating the Guess Work with Construction Project Management Software

When Georgia DOT announced that highway contractor C.W. Matthews Contracting Co. Inc. could earn up to $3.1 million in performance-based incentives for the I-85 project completion, no one believed that the milestones were attainable. How could any contractor tackle such a massive project within such a short time frame? By deploying world-class construction project management software to streamline every step of the project! Project management becomes less herding cats and more enabling professionals when utilizing the following functionality:

Success Through Collaboration | Most construction jobs require complex coordination between multiple groups and teams. Help everyone work better together with communication and collaboration tools. Complete construction project management tools provide a dashboard that gives you the ability to put real-time, important information in front of everyone on your project team. This level of visibility gives your entire team vital project measurements such as Work in Progress, Cost to Complete, Over/Under Billing and Earned Revenue.

Mobile-Friendly | When dealing with complex construction projects, the work doesn’t come to you – you go to the work! The job site is where profit is won or lost and staying connected is critical. Provide your field staff with the tools needed to record data, stay connected and access vital project information.

Unmatched Ease-of-Use | Running a successful construction business is hard work! Managing your critical business systems shouldn’t be. Your construction project management software should be designed to be as user-friendly as possible – allowing you to spend your time running your business, not figuring out how to run your software.

Active Business Intelligence | Up to date business intelligence is critical when dealing with multiple project stakeholders. To keep your projects on time and within budget you need the ability to access every data element in the system to build customized real-time project reports. Successful firms utilize workflows and alerts to turn passive reporting into actionable plans.

Empowered by the Cloud | Spectrum Construction Software users enjoy the convenience of the cloud without sacrificing security or control. With role-based pricing you pay only for the functionality you need, saving thousands of dollars over the course of each year. Empowered by Spectrum’s fully-integrated web-based document management system you can access your documents and images anywhere in the world at the click of a button.

Position Your Firm for the Next Big Project

Is your firm stuck on an outdated archaic project management system? If so it’s time for you to check out Spectrum Project Management and position yourself to win the next big construction project.

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