Check these 5 tips before spending big on your next construction management tool

Construction and technology haven’t been the most compatible partners, at least not traditionally.  

Times are changing; building regulations in the UK have forced a lot of construction companies to digitalise faster, with the introduction of Part L updates and the Golden Thread Initiative being a big driver. This push to adopt digital tools has brought a whole host of solutions that promise to make digital working easier; many of these are general project management tools and some are construction specific.  

Choosing the right tool can mean the difference between a sound investment that complements your business processes and supports growth and time and money wasted on solution that isn’t fit for purpose and doesn’t scale in the way you need it to. 

It’s probably tempting to dive straight in and look at the features that these tools offer; but a long list of features won’t help if you’re not specifically choosing a solution that addresses your challenges in the first place, so you need to take a step back and consider five key areas of functionality before making your shortlist.  

Unlimited users 

Construction teams are usually large and made up of main contractors, subcontractors, designers, and architects. Sometimes more. If you have a system that is priced on a per-user basis, costs can add up quickly. On longer term projects you may work with an increasing number of subcontractors as workload increases, so adding these people to a restricted system can cause delays while your provider processes extra users.

A truly flexible solution won’t charge you extra for additional users, and will allow you to add users outside of your organisation. The goal is complete collaboration with the least amount of friction – or hidden costs. 

True mobile-friendly usability

A collaborative tool that works for everyone will work in the field, not just in the office. This means having a robust mobile-friendly app that can be adopted quickly, with live updates shared between project members. Almost everyone working on a site has access to a mobile device; it's far less likely to have laptops on-site.

Dedicated on-boarding 

An out-of-the-box solution sounds nice to have, but every build project will have its own processes and preferred file structures for managing documents, snags, issues, RFIs, and more. A huge video library of tutorials is great if you have the time to sit through them all, but it doesn’t give you a tailored solution that is configured to the way you work – meaning more delays. A dedicated software partner will have an on-boarding process that works with you to set up systems and folder structures mapped out to how you already work; so less time is spent on introducing a completely new way of working.

Document and drawing management 

Document management is what drives a lot of construction companies to look for a digital solution – sustainability and the drive for paperless processes is a big part of this together with regulations commanding a digital trail of information. It goes without saying that the core function of any system must be focused on document and drawing management and how its handled. Platforms like WhatsApp, Dropbox and Sharepoint fall pitifully short in working collaboratively – updates need to be visible across an entire construction team so nothing is lost or missed. Working from out of date documents is one of the biggest causes of re-work in construction, and the financial impact of this can be enormous. 

Easy data capture 

If you’re sharing photos and documents attached to emails or through WhatsApp, there isn’t any accountability or ownership – keeping track of changes and identifying mistakes becomes a logistical nightmare. A system that acts as a single source of truth will hold all the data you capture on-site; from forms and documents to pictures and team check-ins.  

Our construction project management buyer’s guide takes these factors a step further and prepares you for approaching potential providers. You can download a copy for free here.  

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