Tomorrow’s software will integrate with analytics programs, store data in the cloud and be accessible from any device.
Construction software, which can make a project easier to manage at every stage, is constantly evolving to meet customers’ needs. Here’s a look at what you can expect in the coming years according to Becky Wenger, regional marketing manager for Procore, which provides cloud-based applications for the construction industry.
Integration with data analytics software
Increasingly, data is king. As construction companies rely more heavily on data collection and analysis to improve efficiency and productivity, software makers will need to ensure that their products play well with popular data crunching software programs.
“Companies want to be able to plug into more robust data analytics software,” said Wenger. Project managers, for example, will need to be able to collect information on what’s happening in the field in their project management software and then roll that data up to analytics programs used in the C-suite.
Managers want to be able to use that data for a variety of tasks, including RFIs, submittals, manpower logs, customer billing, project billing and estimates, according to Wenger.
Cloud-based software and storage
As construction companies share more information with owners and subcontractors, and as BIM increases collaboration across project team members, companies need to give more parties access to data. And that means relying more heavily on cloud-based storage.
Access from any device
“Today any software that needs to be accessed in the field has to be available on mobile and on multiple platforms for Android, iPads and other tablets,” Wenger said. “People want the freedom and the flexibility to use the hardware that they want with their software.”
“Users are asking for some of the same things that they’ve been requesting for a while. Simplicity and ease of use are still very important, as well as the ability to get an overall company-level view of the health of each of the projects and the projects themselves."
A focus on end-user needs
“It is a bit counterintuitive; you would think the people in the field would be the first people to ask [when a company is choosing project software],” said Wenger. “But for some time, I have seen some disconnect between those who made the decisions and the end users.” Many software companies make their pitch to the IT department and the C-suite. Butthat is changing because companies need the end user’s buy in. “They are the ones who are going to know where you can have the cost savings and the time savings, and whether [using the software] will be more efficient,” she added.
End users want software that will let them quickly navigate to documents, drawings, specifications, RFIs, change orders, punch lists, daily logs, inspections and project photos.
Ease of use
Software tends to get more complicated as it becomes more deeply embedded in the construction processes. Some new features could be very beneficial, like those that allow contractors to monitor their workers’ health in the heat and the cold. But bells and whistles often come at the cost of making software harder to use. In producing all these extras, software companies may lose track of what’s really important to contractors. That’s a trend construction companies don’t like.
“Users are asking for some of the same things that they’ve been requesting for a while. Simplicity and ease of use are still very important, as well as the ability to get an overall company-level view of the health of each of the projects and the projects themselves,” said Wenger.
Ease of use may not be a new trend, but it’s something contractors will continue to demand in their software.
With construction management becoming more and more digital, customers will expect to see a benefit in the form of increased productivity. That means the software contractors use will have to become more productive, too.
Freelance writer Mary Lou Jay writes about business and technical developments in a variety of industries. She has been covering residential and commercial construction for more than 25 years.
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