Construction, whether it be on a big or small scale, is all about scheduling. The project must be finished and delivered within a specific time period otherwise it can result in costly delays, disputes, arbitration or even lawsuits. If you need more convincing, you just have to look back to the infamous Boston's " Big Dig" downtown expressway project. When the mega construction project was finally completed in 2006, it was eight years behind schedule and was 19 Billion US dollars over budget taking into consideration debt service and inflation.
In a study done in Project Management Magazine, it was found out that 65 % of all construction projects all over the world that are over $1 Billion USD and 35% of all projects under $500 Million USD are late or over budget. And, if an arbitration will arise, it takes an average of 14 months to get it resolved. That’s most money and time wasted that could have been prevented if you had used a construction scheduling software.
So, how do you determine if your company needs a construction scheduling software? Well, if you are building anything over the most rudimentary building project, your company would surely benefit from using a construction scheduling software.
WHAT IS A CONSTRUCTION PROJECT SCHEDULING SOFTWARE?
A construction project management scheduling software is a collective term to various programs made by software giants to small niche players that construction professionals used to assign, organize and forecast work on construction projects. Construction project management software nowadays is usually included as one of the modules for bigger construction management solutions.
This type of program is not new and have been around since the 60's when researchers made use of algorithms and applications to streamline and improve the scheduling process.
PICKING THE BEST CONSTRUCTION SCHEDULING SOFTWARE
Construction scheduling software comes in all forms – from simple free tools to sophisticated highly detailed, multi-user systems. These scheduling tools also vary widely in their functions. So with all the choices in the market, how can you choose the best construction scheduling software that can a right fit for your company. Here are a few ways that you can start:
Determine Who is Going to Use It
One of the keys to figuring out the best construction scheduling software for your company is to determine that right balance between intricacy and cost. Choose a software that’s affordable but simultaneously, sophisticated enough use.
To do this, it helps to identify yourself within four buyer profiles as written by Eileen O Loughlin for softwareadvice.com when you are looking for a construction software so that you can narrow down the myriad of software choices available out there.
Buyer Profile 1: Construction Project Manager
These people are involved with many complex planning and management activities, and scheduling is only one of the tasks that they deal with. People who belong to this buyer profile are likely to purchase a construction management that includes a scheduler as one of its features. These people also want a scheduling software that features a program that integrates with contract management and employee time sheets.
Buyer Profile 2: Project Scheduling Specialists
These people treat scheduling as a fulltime job. It is their job to construct and update schedules in extensive detail and use sophisticated project management and performance measurement techniques. These people stand to gain the most from a software that automates repeatable tasks. Generally, they would pick the best scheduling software available in the market.
Buyer Profile 3: Desktop Schedulers
These people also work with detailed schedules but don't have the need for multi-user functionality. With this, they can usually work with a program that offers a simpler scheduling option compared to project scheduling specialists and project managers.
Buyer Profile 3: Calendar Managers
These people are managers who don't do scheduling for complex construction projects. They usually manage smaller and simpler projects. Their needs can be easily met with a free scheduling management software, or in some cases, a simple calendar app will suffice.
Some Considerations When Making A Decision
After you’ve established which type of buyer you are, it’s time to take a quick look on the different options that software packages have that might have a huge impact on your decision in making it the one.
When you choose a scheduling software, ask yourself if it has mobile access because access to schedules in the field has become a necessity nowadays. You'll want to check if you're chosen cloud-based scheduler's mobile version gives the users all the desired functionalities. Take a look at the mobile interface and examine if its reliable and if it's simple and easy to use. Also, look at how quickly and how often does it synchronize with all the other devices using the same program.
Ease of Use and Customer Support
While it's true that construction scheduling software helps streamline the construction process, much the software has a steep learning curve. If the software that you are looking at requires a degree in computer science and engineering, then this is probably not the best software to use. In addition to its simple interface, you also want to look at the after sales support as well as product training that the company offers. For sure, you will have questions when you are using the software, you want to make sure that there are resources as well as a live person that you can talk to via phone, online chat or email that can help you resolve your problems.
The price of a construction scheduling software is usually proportional to the features it carries and offers, but sometimes the price can also reflect things like where the vendor will install the system, and what type of customer support the vendor offers, as well as how many users of accounts you will need. If your company will need multi-user accounts, consider how many users you will need, the price and will you easily add or subtract users.