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4 Questions to Ask Before Buying Construction Project Management Software

Let us help you with identifying a few project management questions to ask and here’s the reason why.

There’s something unique tucked away in the 1,400 pages of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) passed by Congress late last year. Among the $1.2 trillion allocated for infrastructure upgrades to roads, bridges, railways, airports, waterworks, and internet broadband is also $100 million to accelerate the use of digital construction management systems.

For the first time ever, Uncle Sam wants construction owners . . . to modernize how they plan and manage their projects in order to reduce delays and budget overruns, increase productivity, and improve safety and quality.

“By leveraging integrated, cloud-based solutions organizations replace redundantly, siloed data with information that can be accessed in real-time and on-demand, enabling projects to move faster and more efficiently,” says Si Katara, co-founder of the Coalition for Smarter Infrastructure Investments. “Enhanced communication and collaboration, aided by the deployment of mobile tools on job sites, offer greater security, accountability, and transparency among stakeholders to support current projects as well as future development and funding.”

These advanced digital systems might also be crucial to providing the reporting required to secure federal funding for projects through the IIJA.  Unfortunately, not all construction management software is created equal. If you’re considering what platform will best serve your organization’s present and future needs, here are four critical questions to ask before you buy:

Question #1: Who is the software really made for?

One of the main benefits of construction project management software for owners is the protection it can provide for your investment. But in order to do so, it has to actually be built with the project owner in mind.

Contractor-focused platforms can make life easier and projects more profitable for CGs and subcontractors, but often at an owner’s expense. Integrations to popular accounting programs or scheduling apps are convenient, but they also create security vulnerabilities that can be exploited by bad actors.

And who ultimately controls project data and documentation? If you as the owner can’t easily find what you need, either during planning or construction or especially after closeout, then odds are that the platform wasn’t really created to maximize your ROI and minimize your risk.

Question #2: How easy it is to implement?

Time is tight, so consider how much time, effort, and expense it will take to install the platform and train your project team. Days? Weeks? Does the company provide live training for everyone on your team, or use a trainer-of-trainers model for just a few key stakeholders? What about onboarding new hires after initial implementation?

And what’s the company’s support model? If you have questions — and you will — how quickly can you get them answered? How easy is it to talk to a live customer support agent? And do they really have the knowledge and the ability to resolve your issue, or will they hand you off to a succession of operators?

The hidden costs of training and support can be significant as well. Is there a limit to the number of training sessions or hours of support provided? If so, you may find that your software cost ends up being considerably more than you expected.

Question #3: How will it improve accountability and collaboration?

Good project management software should help tear down the siloing that is all-too-frequent in construction. Does the software you’re considering have the tools you need to ensure that your stakeholders get the information they need when they need it? Will it allow for easy sharing of documents and dependency schedules? How does it provide visibility into upcoming milestones?

As an owner, you also need it to help you hold those stakeholders accountable. Will the platform show you who consistently meets or misses deadlines? Can it easily preserve and organize emails around specific outstanding issues?

No owner looks forward to litigation, but unfortunately, it’s a common occurrence for relationships with general contractors and architects to sour if schedules slip, costs soar, or quality suffers. If that happens, will your platform give you the information you need to prove who is really liable for damages?

Question #4: Are you paying only for what you need?

Remember the old saying that “when you sell to everyone, you sell to no one?” The same is true of construction management software that claims to equally meet the needs of owners, contractors, engineers, architects, consultants, accountants, and anyone else remotely associated with a project. Odds are good that a platform designed for all of those stakeholders will be optimized for none of them.

Odds are also good that all the bells and whistles and modules and apps that a platform like that inevitably features will inflate the cost of the software for you, the owner. But do you really need all those features? Or will they just add unnecessary expense and complexity? If you’re only planning to utilize 25% of a platform’s functionality, why are you paying for 100% of it?

The Owner Insite Difference

Unlike other construction project management solutions, Owner Insite’s secure, cloud-based platform is built for owners by owners. It’s designed to protect the owner’s investment, from planning through closeout and beyond. And it does so at a price point well below the competition, whether you’re managing a single project or an entire portfolio.

All Owner Insite licenses come standard with unlimited users, unlimited file storage, and unlimited live training and support. And the software is so easy to set up and use that your team will be up and running with just a couple of hours of initial onboarding.

From that point on, you’ll be able to access any information about any project, active or archived, in 4 clicks or less. Most importantly, you — the owner — maintain total control over and full visibility into every aspect of every project.

“It’s more important than ever to modernize how we design, build and manage infrastructure so that each dollar we invest goes further,” says Si Katara. To see how Owner Insite can help you get the most out of each of your project dollars, contact us today to schedule a short demo.

by Marilee Bodden

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