All projects can be improved with the right tool. Smaller construction projects need construction project management software, and bigger ones definitely require the kind of control that only a PM tool can provide.
Construction projects can be big, complex and often unruly, with regulatory issues, safety concerns, equipment rentals, multiple teams and more. If you’re going to manage a construction project, you want project management software that is robust and dynamic.
There are many project management software products on the market that sell themselves as the go-to tool for the construction project manager. But how do they measure up to the task? We took a look at the best and beat the tires for you.
What Is Construction Project Management?
First, let’s talk a little about construction project management and how it differs from other projects. A construction project is different from other projects in that it’s mission-based, which means the project is over when the build is done.
Of course, construction is a wide topic. It includes residential, renovation, heavy industry, commercial and institutional, and engineering projects. That means it can run the gamut from an outhouse to an airport. Some projects are narrowly defined, but construction project management always involves a wide range of skills and crafts, such as leadership, planning and resource management.
Where construction project management differs from other projects is in the particulars of design, preconstruction, procurement and, of course, the construction. Like other project managers, construction project managers must determine feasibility, plan, schedule, manage resources and make budgets—in addition to monitoring, tracking and reporting. All of these tasks can be aided by the right construction project management software.
2020 Best Construction Project Management Software Rankings
ProjectManager.com is a cloud-based project management software. That means it can be used anywhere and by anyone, which is of course a benefit to construction project management, where work occurs on site and among multiple teams.
Beyond that, the suite of tools featured on ProjectManager.com offers a means to control every aspect of the construction project, from construction project scheduling, construction project planning, construction vendor management, construction cost management and more.
For example, ProjectManager.com has an online Gantt chart tool that is a visual timeline of the project, with tasks represented by two points, a start date and an end date. The duration of the task is indicated by a line, which can be easily edited by simply dragging and dropping when and if there is a change in the schedule.
The online Gantt chart can also assign tasks to individuals on the team. They can then collaborate at the task level, leaving comments and adding relevant documents and images directly to the task. If any of those tasks are dependent on another being complete before they can begin, the construction project manager can link them, preventing bottlenecks and idle teams. Because status updates are instantly reflected in the software, and notifications alert teams to impending deadlines, everyone on the project team is on the same page.
Another aspect of construction project management that is complex is scheduling and resource management. Construction requires many different skillsets working together throughout the many phases of the project, which ProjectManager.com can coordinate with features that chart availability, skillset, cost and allocation of the various workforce and materials. All this in real-time, so the pieces come together as you need them.
The timesheet feature manages the hours your team works, whether in the office or on site. Timesheets can be updated and submitted anywhere for easy review by managers, who can approve with a keystroke. And all your files are uploaded to the cloud, where they can be accessed when needed. Given all these amazing features at a low price-point, it’s clear that ProjectManager.com is the heavyweight champ of construction project management software.
Construction project managers use Procore for HR, safety and financial concerns related to construction projects. It has a place for the many documents related to construction project management. There’s an employee contact log, with everyone’s certification, though it doesn’t allow tracking of expiration and outdated training.
It’s a good construction project management software for medium to large construction companies, but if you’re running a smaller outfit, the software is too bulky and likely too expensive. It is good for end users, in that it involves them in the planning for future projects and improvements.
That said, it’s not great if you’re interfacing with architects and engineers or subcontractors. The integrating is also spotty, including financials, and the bidding module doesn’t update automatically.
CoConstruct is a popular construction project management software. It is web-based and used by contractors, modelers and design-build companies. It has features such as activity planning, scheduling, estimating, budgeting and communications.
One of the pluses of CoConstruct is that it’s easy to customize and has good customer service if you do need assistance. However, one downside for those who are window shopping is the fact that CoConstruct doesn’t offer a free trial.
It’s also expensive and has limited integrations, which can frustrate users who are interested in a system that works with their other software packages, related to construction or not, such as accounting and social tools.
The good thing about e-Builder is that it’s made with managing government projects in mind. It helps with updating submittals, communications and invoicing. It, however, is a bit of an uphill battle to learn how to use.
Once you clear the training hurdle, it organizes documents easily and has notifications, which help with updates and changes throughout the project. The layout can be confusing. It’s cluttered and overwhelming but does offer a lot of specifics related to managing government issued projects.
It does have a nice scheduling feature, which helps manage large organizations with many employees, but the usability is not ideal or intuitive. It also doesn’t autosave, which can be problematic.
Communications are key to good construction project management. Smartsheet is a nice program to streamline and add efficiency to your project communications. With Smartsheets work is managed, so that construction projects can stay productive through better communication.
The software also manages the avalanche of paperwork involved in any project, which goes double for a construction project. With improved documentation to capture issues as they arise in a project, teams can collaborate more effectively on Smartsheet. Not only teams, but vendors and clients can also be added into the loop.
All of this saves time and creates a more accurate management of project resources. However, Smartsheet lacks good Gantt functionality, which is critical for making and executing construction plans.
Construction project management is a big field that requires a robust and dynamic project management software to handle all its moving parts. ProjectManager.com is a construction project management software that has the tools to plan, monitor and report on every phase of the project’s life cycle. It is uniquely equipped for construction, with visual workflow features like its kanban boards and online Gantt charts that schedule and help teams collaborate. The real-time project dashboard updates instantly and makes reporting a breeze. See for yourself by taking this free 30-day trial.
(This post was updated January 2020)