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Utilizing some form of construction management software is essential to the successful completion of any commercial project. From planning to closeout, choosing a platform that gives your company the budgeting, tracking, communication, and resource management capabilities you need with a user-friendly dashboard can be a daunting task. At Global Construction our team utilizes BuilderTrend, however, this article is not meant to endorse this specific platform in any way. We just wanted to give you an inside perspective on how our team and our clients benefit most from our use of construction management software.
Building Estimates and Creating Lead Proposals
At the beginning of every project, our estimators use the Lead Proposal section of the platform to build estimates for potential clients. We select from a variety of templates we have created that are comprised of line items with cost codes for all of our service types. Creating templates for all our job types based on size and scope saves us tons of time on the front end, as we don’t have to build all the individual line items each time we create a new proposal. Once we choose the proper template from our library, we input the unit cost, quantity, and markup and the software will calculate the builder costs and owner costs for each item.
We choose our own titles, leave specific descriptions of what is included in that item, create individual or shared allowances for change orders, and leave internal notes for our team. We also create line items for all materials associated with each project, with any pertinent information on lead times or comparable product options. This ensures that the materials selected are best suited for the desired project objectives, timeframe, and budget. We can release the proposals to the clients from inside the platform and it automatically logs and tracks the activity and status.
Standardized layouts and templates, paired with secure document storage and activity tracing, ensure that we start every project off on the right foot and maintain clear and precise documentation throughout. From permits and licenses to bids and contracts to receipts and change orders, all documents associated with a project are properly organized and easily accessible to all parties.
While there are additional options for engaging a lead such as scheduling a phone call or sending an email, we choose not to use them. For us, it makes more sense to track all of our lead gen activities in our Hubspot CRM, as the platform is more robust and offers better tracking and task management. Doing it this way also ensures that our business development efforts don’t get mixed up with our active projects. This way, our team members have only the information pertinent to them, alleviating stress and ensuring clear, relevant communication for all parties.
Creating Jobs, Setting Up Team Members, and Granting Access to Ownership
Once a proposal has been approved, we create a new job in BuilderTrend. There are plenty of field options to customize the information you want to log. We utilize the fields for job type, location, status, permit number, price, start, and completion dates, workdays, and project managers associated with the job. From there, we assign internal users to the project, customizing their viewing access and notification settings, set up their time clocks and geolocation tracking. We also assign any subcontractors we will be working with to the project and set their viewing access and notification settings as well.
One of the biggest challenges in construction management is providing clear, up to date, communication with the ownership team. Since this software is cloud-based and has its own online portal for each user, we are able to create a user for the project owner where he or she can log in from anywhere online and access the details of the project. We can customize the access settings to allow the user to view the project schedule, price summary, contract, permits, and plan documents, photos, and insurance information. We allow them to see the dates, files, photos, and comments on the schedule items as they are updated. We also allow them to provide comments of their own, which get sent to our team immediately via email and text notifications. We do allow the owner to submit change order requests directly through their portal and can also allow them to add warranty claims.
Daily Logs, To-Do’s, and Project Activity Tracking
Our software programs for project management, tracking, and communication are used by all field personnel to ensure clear and consistent communication. While most companies do not give their entire team access to the project tracking software, we have found that it is necessary in order to uphold the standards of communication we require of our team. In order to maintain clarity, consistency, quality, and efficiency when managing projects, our team relies heavily on the use of daily logs. Each member of the project team submits status updates daily, including photos of work completed. Our project managers have complete oversight of every detail of the project, enabling them to monitor the quality and accuracy of the work being done and address any issues as soon as they arise. Our team members also utilize this area to record any additional notes, log meetings, and request assistance should they encounter difficulties.
“Daily logs are great because of the ability to upload pictures and see timestamps related to Activity. Plus, the weather record is huge. There are lots of construction activities that are weather dependent. Seal coating must be done in temperatures between 50 and 85 degrees Fahrenheit and asphalt paving is also heavily dependent on the weather. If we schedule something we are unable to complete due to weather, the log validates our decisions to make changes should they come under scrutiny.” – Erik Good, Senior Project Manager
By pairing daily logs with to-do tasks and incorporating them into the high-level project schedule and timeline, our project managers can ensure proper workflow sequencing and effectively allocate resources. Knowing a materials order must be received at x location by x employee on x date and then be installed by x employee on x date with x equipment that needs to be brought in by x employee on x date from x location is critical information for multiple parties. Should the order not arrive, resources must be reallocated, and solutions must be implemented. A clear record of what happened, why it happened, and who was involved can provide insight on how to avoid the situation in the future as well as peace of mind for the ownership team.
As a general contractor, we are the ownership team’s eyes and ears in the field, managing the dynamic between the employees and outside vendors, methodically overseeing the build, and efficiently addressing any issues that arise. These real-time updates paired with the geolocation of all of our employees and subcontractors means that everyone knows where everyone else is at and what they are working on at all times. Should someone need assistance, they can request help on the fly from the best-suited person, increasing efficiency and maximizing productivity across all active projects. The transparency provided by this platform instills accountability from all of our employees. By clearly communicating expectations and logging and tracking activity in real-time we have a true understanding of our employees’ capabilities and can push them to meet and then exceed expectations.
Project Completion, Review, and Opportunities for Growth
When a project has been successfully completed and signed off on by the ownership team one of the most important aspects of our companies operation commences: the internal review. By having a clear record of the entire project from start to finish, our team can sit down and go over successes and highlights as well as opportunities for growth and improvement. Being able to go back to any specific day on the log, any photo, task, or document allows us to precisely identify positive procedures and practices that we want to replicate as well as troubleshoot areas for improvement.
Are you working with BuilderTrend or another construction management software? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!