Top Project Management Software Features Chosen by Project Managers
Managing a construction project is a complex task. Most projects experience significant delays and cost overruns. The best construction management software can alleviate a lot of problems.
Web-based construction software includes construction scheduling tools, project management financial tracking, and collaboration tools. It’s increasingly making project management more straightforward, leading to fewer delays and excess costs.
Project managers are exploring these new tools to plan their projects, stay on time and budget, reduce scope creep, improve collaboration between teams, communicate with key stakeholders, manage resources, meet regulations, and more.
Here are the top ten project management features identified by a survey of 20 project managers.
- Project planning
- A great dashboard
- Ease of use
- Easy report building
- Project financials
- Post schedules
- Task management
- Resource management
1. Project planning
Plan the work. Work the plan. That is the strategy for success when it comes to project management.
A proper plan accounts for all the work, materials, labor, costs, and time required to complete the project. Any project that begins without a proper plan will likely experience cost overruns and significant delays.
With project management software, you can better define project objectives and assign responsibilities and timelines for reaching those objectives.
“We don’t always start a project with a fully detailed set of plans,” says Charles Robert, project manager of Holder Construction. “When working from a plan with information missing, you will likely experience scope creep. So it’s better to clarify all objectives at the beginning. Then your plan can be as accurate as possible.”
Linarc project management and collaboration software outlines all planned project tasks and makes construction project scheduling incredibly easy. For example, time slot view gives managers an overview of how many hours and tasks have been booked for each team member and shows the unscheduled time slots. Having a quick overview of everyone’s tasks and unscheduled time provides better insight when assigning new tasks. Assign more tasks to team members who are ahead of schedule and avoid overbooking people.
2. A great dashboard
The dashboard provides a snapshot of the project and includes the most critical information for project managers. It is visually clean, easy to read, customizable, and allows for different ways of viewing project data.
Not every project manager has the same preferences and not every project needs the same types of project information. So project managers prefer a customizable dashboard. And providing different dashboard view types— Kanban board, task list, timeline, or calendar— enables the project manager to visualize the project in various ways. Being able to visualize the project in multiple ways improves decision-making.
Linarc project management and collaboration software allow you to visualize data using graphs, charts, metrics, and key performance indicators (KPIs). This will help you identify key project details, compare project results to initial plans, and make more informed decisions.
3. Ease of use
Many people who use project management software aren’t technology experts. Project managers will often choose a project management solution with fewer features and is easy to use than one that has many features and is difficult to use.
A project manager’s job will be easier if other teams—trades, management, and the client—also use the software. If the software is easy to use, it’s easy to learn, and people can quickly be trained how to use it on the job. And people are more likely to use it if it’s easy.
A standard format for all projects doesn’t always work. The ability to customize certain aspects of project management software also helps make using the software easier.
4. Easy report building
The next top construction management feature is the ability to create various reports with minimal effort.
Project managers must report (progress reports, financial reports, environmental impact reports, etc.) to management, the client, or other stakeholders. Without project management software, gathering the data can be frustrating, and creating reports can be time-consuming.
A project management software can automatically import data from other sources, such as schedules, punch lists, workflows, financial documents, etc., and put it into a document that highlights and outlines the desired information.
Project managers also create reports to gauge project or team progress and identify potential problems. A project management software that allows for customization of reports allows the project manager to find and present the information that is the most valuable.
5. Project financials
Project managers regularly identify excessive costs as one of their top challenges. A dashboard that displays project financials allows for easy organization of financial information. Easily manage budgets, invoices, expenses, and cash flow before adding multiple KPIs to measure financial success.
“Sometimes our company experiences delays due to cash flow,” says Abel Noris, project manager, Mass Construction and Management, Inc. “Before any money gets pushed out, there are a series of events that take place to bring the cash through. Documentation requires multiple signatures, and this delays cash flow. Sometimes we pay people on site—sometimes daily. I can’t afford cash flow problems.”
Linarc software allows you to take charge of project costs with budget forecasts and actionable insights. Establish project budget and controls from the start and then track and manage every dollar in your budget with seven-day cost and performance data. Keep track of estimates, cost revisions, and change order impact on a centralized budget manager.
Look ahead with Linarc’s cost and schedule prediction tools, then correct course as needed. Ninety percent of customers surveyed find Linarc’s prediction model helps prevent budget overrun from derailing a project.
Load bid values for the entire project and link to subcontractor’s estimates for tighter control, track trades exposure, and understand the impacts of cash flow as the project advances. As you update contractor task progress, Linarc updates the exposure reports.
Then link your financial reports to work breakdown structures (WBS) and collate costs to align with how you handle the project. And integrate with standard accounting systems to eliminate double-entry and manual error.
6. Post schedules
Managing a construction project requires creating and managing many schedules. There’s the project schedule, a schedule for each project section, a schedule for each trade, and so on. Each team has its project schedule, but few are aware of each other’s schedules. This creates silos on a project that requires collaboration. Collaboration requires communication and transparency.
Project management software allows project managers to publish each schedule so it’s accessible to all key stakeholders. If one schedule isn’t met, other schedules could be delayed. Knowing all schedules allows those affected to collaborate on a solution.
Manage all construction project management scheduling needs with Linarc’s customizable construction scheduler. First, convert your WBS to the project’s master schedule and keep them easily synced. With Linarc’s Master Schedule tool, you can plan and design the work breakdown structure, set milestones and checkpoints, and connect the entire project team to it. Then each user can publish progress updates and as share documents, images, and other attachments.
The Linarc Contractor Schedule tool allows you to break down activities to field tasks and assign and track resources against budgets and timelines. Then you can sync both schedules to automatically update progress.
7. Task management
A construction project can be broken down into thousands of tasks and each task must be completed to finish the project and possibly even to move on to the next task. The project manager is ultimately responsible for ensuring each task is completed on schedule and meets quality standards.
Using an Excel-style spreadsheet to manage these tasks is time-consuming, uses outdated data, and issues are discovered much later compared to using a project management software.
Good project management software allows you to assign tasks to team members and set priorities and deadlines. Linarc allows you to visually plan 100 percent of the work needed and decompose the project scope top-down into work packages. While you use your WBS to design the main project activities, you can push the detailed task breakdown to the schedule.
8. Resource management
Similar to task management, resource management is critical to project success.
Resources include building materials, equipment and tools, work materials and workspaces, crew and specialized workers. Project managers must manage these resources to ensure they have the resources to complete the project.
A good project management software will help you identify and predict when a resource will be lacking. Manage and assign resources to specific tasks and ensure everyone has the resources and tools to complete their tasks.
With Linarc, your team can improve resource utilization by allocating optimally across all your projects. Use the Centralized Construction Resource Management and Linarc’s Dispatch Central tools to reduce schedule impact by assigning the right resources to the right project at the right time. Understanding where your resources are deployed and future resource needs allows you to maximize usage and minimize downtime due to lack of resources.
Plus, Linarc’s automatic notifications will keep everyone up to date regarding resource allocation.
Construction projects are collaborative by nature and a good project management software should be collaborative by design.
The Lincarc project management and collaboration software includes shared schedules, access to the same online dashboard, and convenient messaging tools. Keep all project communication in one location for easy access.
“Our clients often prefer to use email,” says Lucy Njoki, project manager of a California-based general contractor with $50-$75 million in annual revenue. “This often results in project delays. However, if we could convince our clients to communicate via our project management software, we would get responses more quickly.”
Your project management software should be compatible with other software solutions. Being able to import your estimate, for example–and having the software automatically populate the correct fields–saves time spent entering data manually and reduces error entry.
Linarc marketplace allows you to integrate with other scheduling tools, ERP (enterprise resource planning), and financial systems to keep your entire business in sync. With Linarc, you can pull and push data automatically or update data manually.