Scheduling software plays a crucial role in keeping work on track. Construction scheduling software can significantly improve information-sharing, efficiency, quality, and financial aspects of a job. However, finding the right scheduling solution for your needs can be difficult.
This article will help you understand how scheduling software can help to improve the construction process, what it can do overall for your business, and how you can find the best software available. We will cover some of the key factors to consider when picking a scheduling solution and help you find the system that best suits your business.
How Scheduling Software Can Improve the Construction Process
To better understand how construction scheduling software can help your business, you need to have a basic understanding of the construction process. Most construction projects will go through six different stages: design, pre-construction, procurement, construction, commissioning, and occupancy.
In the design stage, building designs are created, selected, and amended if needed to meet the requirement of the project. Pre-construction encompasses several related activities such as design evaluation, value analysis, and bidding for the project. Procurement is the process of gathering resources and services needed for the construction.
Construction, of course, refers to the actual building of the project and is generally the most complex and lengthy part of the construction project. Once a building has been constructed, it is ready for commissioning which means ensuring that all of the building systems are in working order, including the electrical, plumbing and fire safety systems.
When inspectors and owners have determined the building is fit for occupancy, then people can start moving in to live and work.
The Benefits of Scheduling Software
Now that we have an understanding of the construction process, we’re going to look at the benefits that construction scheduling software can provide and how it can help improve current processes. Here are just a few of the ways scheduling software can benefit your business:
- More precise plan of execution
- Higher quality
- Quick schedule updating if conditions change
- Reduced risk of unexpected problems
- Higher efficiency
- Greater accountability
- Streamlined processes
- Quicker completion
- Cost savings
- Increased customer satisfaction
The main focus of construction scheduling software is a project timeline; however, it also can create a variety of other project benefits by encouraging discipline and promoting information-sharing.
As an example, when scheduling a job, you have to lay out a complete and detailed plan for the work and the order in which the work needs to occur. Taking part in this level of planning increases the accuracy of your timeline as well as your budget. It can also help reduce the chances that you will encounter any issues or forget about important aspects of the work being done.
Which Construction Scheduling Software Do You Need?
By now, it should be clear that there are many types of benefits that a business can reap from using construction scheduling software. The main goal is to find a sweet spot between complexity and cost. You want to choose software that is affordable yet is sophisticated enough to meet your needs.
To kick off this process, you must first determine how complex your project scheduling needs are. You should start by considering the typical size projects you take on and the number of subcontractors you work with on the project. The larger and more complicated a project is, the more likely that you’re going to need mobile access, multi-user functionality and the ability to schedule a large number of project tasks.
If you have a lot of subcontractors, then you will want to be able to create individual schedules for each one. Large commercial projects may also require construction scheduling software that offers performance tracking and reporting functions so that the project owner can keep an eye on costs and scheduling performance.
For large projects or even residential ones, you will want a scheduling solution that has task libraries which allow you to repeat a task with minimal effort.
Lastly, if you deal with multiple projects at once, you will want to be able to manage them in a single view. Keep in mind that this feature is not generally needed for small residential builders. Ultimately you need to be aware of your requirements and find a solution that meets as many of those requirements as possible, so you don’t end up paying a lot of money for something you don’t need.
Construction Scheduling Software Considerations
Below we will go over the various types of construction scheduling software solutions and the factors that you should consider during your decision-making process.
The Cloud: For the majority of construction schedulers, cloud-based systems offer the best ease of access since users can access schedules from any location and mobile devices in the field. These solutions are typically designed to support multiple users, which makes coordination and collaboration much more accessible.
Cloud-based solutions also tend to be cheaper than in-house solutions due to lower start-up costs and a decreased need for any IT staff. For these reasons, cloud-based solutions are currently the most popular option
Security: Security is probably one of the most significant factors that you will take into consideration when trying to find construction scheduling software. Of course, scheduling information would be one security concern, but think about what other information might be compromised is someone were to gain access to your construction management data.
Some scheduling solutions available include contract and bid management as well as employee time card and job cost information. If you’re using such a system, you must consider where you would prefer data hosting to take place. Also, you should determine who would have access to the system and if there are different user rights and permissions.
Mobile Access: Mobile accessibility to schedules is an absolute necessity in the field. Thankfully most scheduling solutions allow access from several devices and any location. If you find a solution that does offer mobile access then you will want to determine whether all desired functionalities are given to a user or not. For example, you will want to make sure that the mobile interface is reliable and easy-to-use. If possible you will want to test out the system and ensure that mobile access works well in the field.
Cost: And last but certainly not least, you must take into consideration the price of the software. The price of construction scheduling software is usually determined by its functionality, but the cost can also reflect things such as what kind of customer service vendor offers, how many user accounts you will need and how the system is deployed.
If you need a multi-user solution, then take into consideration how many users you will have, the systems pricing model, and how easy it is to add or remove users.
How to Pick the Right Solution
Now that you better understand the landscape, you will need to determine which solution is right for your business and its needs. Before you start shopping around, make a list of all the features and functions that you would expect to use and require.
If you are the sole scheduler, then this list will be fairly straightforward. If you are looking for a multi-user scheduling system, then be sure to consult other users and determine what their most important requirements are. List out all of the desired features and categorize them as either optional or critical.
As mentioned, the sophistication of the tool will be the main determining factor of price. Other considerations that will affect the cost of a system include whether it is cloud-based or in-house, if it includes mobile access, and what kind of support is available.
Most scheduling solutions offer a trial or demo of some sort, so test out the options available and see whether or not they are worth it.
To pick the best solution possible, do some window shopping to see which construction scheduling solutions most closely meet your needs. Check out case studies of users that have a business similar to yours. Read reviews about user experience and functionality. Based on this research, you should be able to narrow down your options.
Now that you have narrowed down your options, you should consult with construction specialists who have used the software about their experience. This can help you narrow down your shortlist even more.
At this point, you will want to do an in-depth evaluation of the remaining options using objective criteria. In addition to using you’re required list of functions and features, you should also take into consideration price, quality, and type of support offered, and the user experience. Create a decision matrix from these points and score each option across your selected criteria. Once done, at up the scores and rearrange the checklist from highest to lowest. You should assign a weighting for each criterion according to its priority level.
Hopefully, now, you only have a few options to choose from. You may want to take a few users and have them test the product out. The easiest way to do these tests is with a cloud-based solution. Take the system through its paces and check whether or not it does what it is supposed to do, how it performs out in the field, and whether it is an improvement on your existing scheduling system.
If you find a solution that genuinely meets your needs and is an upgrade from previous software, you will see benefits right away and including more accurate scheduling and increased efficiency for your projects and employees.