Leveraging Construction Project Management Software

Real-time reporting capabilities and integration with mobile applications are changing the way interior fit-outs and renovations are managed. By capitalizing on available technologies, the entire project team can improve communication to deliver successful projects faster.

Designing and constructing our built environment has grown more complex over time, as have the roles and responsibilities of the many members of a project team. The logistics around interior construction require an understanding of project phasing, unique scheduling and just-in-time material deliveries. Plus, the project schedule must consider the organization’s needs.

Our industry has many tools to ensure the success of fit-outs and renovations. One of the most effective tools for managing all of this information is real-time, construction project management software. Through it, project partners gain seamless access to a centralized source for project documents, photos, contracts, submittals and requests for information (RFIs), for continuous updates on construction activities and project status.

Leveraging this technology will foster improvements in three important functions of on-site management: site monitoring, task management, and real-time information sharing. Construction project management software integrated with smartphone and tablet applications can be used to streamline communication between the many project partners and the on-site construction management team. The resulting improvements in transparency, productivity and efficiency all contribute to a project’s success.

Coordination and Integration

Keeping all members of a project informed is one of the biggest challenges in managing today’s fast-paced and complex interior construction projects. If projects devolve into managed silos where different stakeholders operate independently of one another, the project is set up for failure.

The efficient communication of plans, schedules and revisions encourages collaboration. Evidence that construction projects suffer when communication is not optimal comes from KPMG, which cited “lack of project coordination and integration” as a cause of project failures in its recent report titled “Avoiding Major Project Failure – Turning Black Swans White.”

Digital Documents

Documents are the lifeblood of any construction project. More than ever, they are now digital. The projects themselves have timelines and milestones and a mountain of moving parts, each one waiting for something else to happen. Construction document management software makes managing the documents that provide the directions and divisions of labour easier.

A good system will track open items, monitor pending due dates and account for who is assigned to do what, and by when, sorting out these details much more quickly and accurately. At a minimum, a construction document management solution should provide:

  • Information on dates and statuses of items
  • A way to assign responsibilities for items along with corresponding due dates
  • A level of transparency so each administrator and team member can see the items they are responsible for along with the due dates
  • Transparency into the handling of RFIs and submissions
  • Simple, customizable reporting
  • Automated reminders
  • Search filters
  • Availability at all times, wherever an Internet connection exists

This will ensure access to all construction documents, drawings, permits, letters of undertaking from consultants, ESA reports, NFPA 13 and other life safety requirements, as well as closeout permit documents issued by the local governing jurisdiction.

Customized Approval Process

An organization’s real-world workflow won’t necessarily align with a software tool’s default, ‘out-of-the-box’ settings. Many of these software tools possess workflow functionality that enables organizations to create a customized approval process.

Today’s technology allows users not only to start visually designing their business process, but then to use that as the underlying engine that drives all the different tools in the system. As a result, real-world business processes will be accurately mirrored within these software tools.

Real-Time Information

The longer a project takes, the more it costs. Software tools accelerate the construction project management process, as project stakeholders have access to the real-time information that they need to make immediate decisions and keep the project moving forward.

These systems become the one-stop repository for all of a project’s documents, change orders, photos, RFI statuses and responses, clarifications, and schedule changes. If a document or information impacts the project, it can be stored in a project folder.

For example, documents and photos can be entered into most of these software systems by email. Punch list items, also known as deficiencies, can be created in the field with a mobile application and then automatically synced with a web application. Schedule changes can be requested online, emailed to a project team member who has approval authority, and then implemented from any web browser.

Designed to speed up decision-making and eliminate uncertainty, the software’s ease of use should drive its adoption across the project team. Successful project collaboration depends on everyone getting the information they need, when they need it.

Cloud-Based Punch List

A punch list itemizes what needs to be completed or corrected before the general contractor receives final payment from the owner. The list can include anything from damaged outlets and unfinished paint to simple clean-up of material scraps left on the construction site.

Attempting to tackle this solely with spreadsheets can be a laborious process.
A cloud-based punch list eliminates much of this administrative hassle and makes the process more efficient, saving a lot of time and money.

A successful fit-out project relies strongly on an integrated team working collaboratively for the benefit of the project. Using technology and real-time reporting during renovations to improve communication amongst all project partners enables construction managers to deliver successful projects faster.

Construction Project Management Software – Case Study

Flat Iron Building Group (Flat Iron) utilized their construction project management software tool throughout a 7 month interior construction project for Infrastructure Ontario. Communication, organization, and prompt response times contributed to the project’s success, which included relocating 500 people over 27 moves.

The software provided a hub for all documents where stakeholders, including sub-trades, could collaborate both in the field and the office.

Flat Iron used the construction project management software in these ways:

  1. Submit shop drawings, product/material sample submissions to the design consultants (NORR Limited). They provided all approvals and respective ‘sign-off’ stamps and uploaded information into the software system.
  2. Red line/highlight areas in question on documents like RFI’s. This feature was executed in the office by the Project Manager and Project Coordinator and in the field by the  Senior Site Superintendent. Flat Iron was able to include drawing numbers, cost codes, and even utilized a feature that allows one to “bubble” areas in the drawing.
  3. The ‘respond by’ feature was utilized to ensure questions to consultants were answered in a timely fashion. A ‘reminder’ was emailed if the RFI deadline had passed.
  4. Upload project schedule revisions/updates.
  5. Design consultants could issue site instructions, CCN’s & CD’s.
  6. Flat Iron easily generated ‘Punch List’ items to send to appropriate sub-trades for their immediate action.
  7. The submittal logs from Flat Iron to the design consultant and Project Management Service Provider (SNC-Lavalin O&M) were updated in real time. This meant that all senior members of the project team could review what has been submitted, approved and what was outstanding.

More information on this project can be found here.

Written by: Daniel De Monte, Flat Iron Building Group

Daniel De Monte is the President at Flat Iron Building Group, a Toronto-based boutique construction firm that has been specializing in construction management, general contracting and design-build services for over a decade. For more information, visit www.flatiron.ca.

Interest(s): Construction Date: July 21, 2015