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Building a Connected PM Solution

Communication is key to a successful construction project. You could have the world's greatest plumbers on the team, but if they don’t get the right information, you could end up with a flawless bathtub installation where a sink is supposed to go. 

That's why connected construction project management software is essential. Using technology to make sure the right information gets to the right people keeps projects running smoothly.

What is Connected Project Management?

Most companies already use some sort of project management system. Sometimes it's an Excel spreadsheet or notebook paper in a filing cabinet. The problem is that information might not get to the right people. For example, if you make a note that the project owner wants to upgrade the light fixtures, no one else is going to know that unless you show it to them. 

With connected project management software, you can immediately communicate changes to all relevant parties. Any order you place, contract you sign, or adjustment to the project scope is visible instantly, helping you streamline workflows and make accurate predictions about budgets and timelines. 

A key to successful forecasting is ensuring that your systems are working in tandem, feeding data into each other up and down the line—making it a lot easier to see the big picture.

Reasons to Connect

There are many advantages to connected systems, such as rapid decision-making and eliminating costly bad data. According to a recent survey of construction professionals, 75% of respondents stated an increasing need for rapid decision-making in the field. Bad data potentially accounts for 14% of all construction rework, costing $88.69 billion in avoidable rework globally.

Fully connected systems are also still somewhat rare, with only 16% of executives surveyed saying their organizations have all aspects of their operations in the same system. But as the industry changes, full integration is becoming more important. For example, 90.9% of firms report using smartphones daily for work purposes. With full connectivity, you can leverage that 90% who have already adopted mobile technology.

Getting the right data to the right people at the right time is an important goal. But as Dave Anderskow, president of Palmer Consulting Group, points out, dealing with external players like architects, subcontractors, general contractors, and project owners “leads to a lot of duplication of effort [and] a lot of delay in getting the right data and the right documents to people so that they can do their job.” Clearly, you need a management solution that can connect stakeholders inside and outside the organization and allow all parties to communicate and stay up-to-date on change orders, budgets, and timelines.

Chris Wetmore, principal at RSM Technology Advisory Practice, points out that good data is more important than ever with the advent of AI in management solutions. He says, “If you don't have good data and aren't collecting good data and integrating and moving data smoothly between systems, that is going to hurt you in three to five years as people build AI-based solutions off of historical data.”  

Connected systems can also help GCs, subs, and engineers deal with the shortage of skilled labor. Gary Stough, Head of Sales at Trimble Data Xchange, notes that removing non-value-added tasks like re-entering, importing, and exporting data into various formats saves a lot of time. This means that fewer people can do the job. By eliminating the redundancy, Stough says, “We've been able to help a great number of clients eliminate that and allow their team to be more productive at managing the project.”

Connected Workflows

Contrasting connected and unconnected workflows highlights the importance of streamlining project management software. Based on his years in the industry, Stough argues that without connected solutions, getting a response to a submittal from the right stakeholder is a ten-step process involving multiple sign-ins, file uploads and downloads, and data re-entry. Many companies are working with several different software solutions, but since the systems don’t communicate, 74% of contractors end up relying on one primary system to track key processes. 

Even if your company has implemented a connected system, external companies are often using different software—presenting another barrier to data flow. Stough recalls an example of this: “Integrating two external systems was a big deal. It still is. Because it was not us writing an integration between ProjectSite and Vista. It was writing an integration for two different companies collaborating on a project using two different systems.”

But a fully integrated solution bypasses this issue. Stough explains a tool called the Common Data Exchange (CDX). Work in your preferred system, then the CDX reformats data to the system the other stakeholder is using and shares it with them instantly.  For example, Stough says, “You enter all your information for RFIs and submittals in ProjectSight. The integration adds that new RFI or submittal over in Procore, you're able to collaborate on it and have a transfer of answers, comments, and attachments synched back into each system.” This is a huge timesaver when dealing with multiple stakeholders at different companies, turning a ten-step process into a three-step process.

Project logistics get more complex every year. With a combination of mobile tech, AI, and multiple platforms, it's a monumental task to stay ahead of the curve. Connected systems are a powerful tool for freeing up project managers to deal with whatever lies ahead.

Listen to the full webinar.