Is it a good idea to build your own construction management app?

In a digital world saturated with mobile apps, the idea of creating your very own solution can be tempting. It can seem especially attractive if you have specific needs or ways of working that you can’t find entirely included in external tools, despite exhaustive searches. Having a bespoke tool sounds like the perfect solution and in an ideal world every construction company would probably have a tool that is built just for them, because no two companies work in the same way. The ultimate goal remains the same though; efficiency and productivity.  

Benefits of a completely bespoke tool aside, there are some things that you may be missing if you choose to go down the road of developing your own tool.  


Look at any recruitment site and you’ll find a huge pool of talented developers that can create incredibly polished apps and solutions for a huge range of industries. And that is where the limitation is for construction – the unique and often vast requirements that a construction company has that place very specific demands on a software. Decades of insight from internal team members might not translate well if a developer doesn’t completely and fully understand the nuances of a fully functional construction app.  

There have been some big changes to building regulations in the last few years alone (think Part L, the Golden Thread). A flexible solution that can respond in an agile way to growing and changing regulations means that an external developer is likely to need an ongoing and deeper understanding of the construction industry as a whole – and how many developers of multiple apps are likely to be construction specialists as a bonus? 

A lot of developers will offer a one-size-fits-all solution that includes all the tools you could possibly need and then some. Sounds great on paper, but is that the most cost-effective way of approaching your challenges? How far will their lack of construction expertise go when you need more functionality?


Speaking of being cost-effective, developing an app isn’t cheap. Nor is it a quick fix; development timelines can range from a couple of months for small apps to 6+ months for more complicated apps that have more tools and features. Think about how many different moving parts you need to track projects: scope of works, snags, RFIs, submittals, task management, digital forms. It’s not a small task for any developer and how much productivity are you missing out on in those months waiting for your bespoke solution? And that’s before you factor in the cost of outsourcing a developer; it’s not likely that you will have access to a development team from inside a construction company.  

Think in terms of quarters rather than just months if you're going to work on developing your own app and consider how that time and cost might impact your projects.

Support and scalability 

What about support when things go wrong? There will be multiple stakeholders using the app – subcontractors aren’t always going to be part of the internal business and if they have a problem while out in the field valuable time can be wasted waiting for support from an external developer thanks to a longer chain of communication. Some developers will include support as part of their service agreement, but it may come at an additional cost for ongoing support for end users.   

Scaling up is also important to consider – what about when you take on more projects? And have a larger team? Does the app support easy on-boarding? Are you trained to provide this to a level where everyone is up to speed and where they need to be to get the job done? The goal of technology is simplify your construction processes, and be an ongoing tool that grows with your business.  

Our construction project management buyer’s guide looks at a number of these factors versus partnership with a specialist construction developer, along with considerations for choosing an app, and how to effectively compare providers. You can download a copy for free. 

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