There’s a saying that I’ve heard over the years, “write about what you know.” So, I’d like to take this week to talk about a subject I really know—construction software—something I’ve been doing for more than thirty years.
Anyone who regularly reads this blog or keeps up with technology can tell you that software, especially software for construction companies, is changing. There are a number of ways it’s changing, which are not just limited to software technology, so here are my top five trends to watch in construction software.
1. The Cloud
One of the biggest trends is the move to the cloud, but that’s really just the beginning of this technology story. Cloud computing is actually serving as a catalyst for all the other significant changes in the construction software industry…
2. (New) Mobile Construction Software
Nearly everyone I know has a smart phone, and more and more people are adopting tablets, particularly for construction field operations. With web-based software, these mobile devices are capable of running complete versions of a company’s enterprise software, resulting in real-time information flowing freely from the field to the office and a true collaborative environment.
3. Merger of Construction Operations and Business Software
Contractors are realizing that the typically separate operations and business management sides of their companies work better when they work together. After all, without operations there wouldn’t be a business to manage. Contractors and software vendors alike keep looking for better ways to connect the two. The solution emerging in the market is software that is centered around the construction project which, after all, is the essence of a contractor’s business. Look for software that does a better job providing applications based on the workflow of a project from cradle to grave, and that provides web-based anywhere-any time visibility into job progress, profitability, change management, and more for everyone who involved in the success of a job.
4. Next Generation of Document Management
For construction companies to function efficiently, they need documents to flow smoothly. Document imaging and management has been around for a while. I know because we were the first company to provide these solutions to the industry as part of a construction software package. But these methods of management are mainly task oriented, such as routing invoices or timecards for approval. Today, we need more process-oriented document management. Look for systems that do more than provide generic data and document storage – look for systems that apply intelligence, automation, and collaborative tools so that project documents are easier to use, easier to access, and more relevant to everyone on a project team.
5. Open Access
The idea that everyone in your company should have access to project information without having to purchase a user license is somewhat new to the construction software industry. If designed correctly, software systems can be opened up to a broader audience, allowing paid license holders full access to features and functions while providing reports, key performance indicators, and company information to a more people within a company. Doing this with client-server software is problematic, but web-based applications make it easy – and add more value to a company’s investment in enterprise software.
What trends are you seeing in construction software?