Construction Management: Tools of the Trade

The digital age has proven we can get things done efficiently and effectively online. But when it comes to construction management, there are processes and business needs that require a good, old-fashioned, pen-to-paper mentality and construction management tools.

To ensure a smoothly run construction company, there are several pieces that must work together for the process to be successful. There are internal processes, marketing, and operations to think about, but there’s also the actual project management required to handle several construction jobs at once. Although there are several online apps and tools necessary to keep everything organized in a centralized place, especially if there are multiple collaborators, there are those office supplies you’ll always need no matter what new technology is introduced over the years.

Day-to-Day Operations

From invoicing to memos to attending conferences and off-site meetings, you’ll need a few office basics to make sure you have information and materials posted where they’re most visible to your team. Every construction office will most likely have:

Pens: Whether to use on-the-go, give to customers, or use internally, you can never have enough pens.

Notepads: Use these to jot down ideas, notes to enter into a database later, or self-reminders when you don’t have access to an online portal.

Wall calendars: While it’s likely you’ve gone digital with your project timelines, seeing upcoming projects at a glance are still nice to have for everyone to see. It helps paint a broad picture of timelines and scope of work being done.

USB flash drives: If you need to transfer several files or blueprints at once between team members or to clients, a flash drive is a useful and practical way to get the job done.

Construction sites may have fewer office supplies than most, but there are still essentials required so that day-to-day tasks may be achieved in a timely manner. By having the basics in stock, it prevents any unnecessary, operational setbacks.

Construction Management Specifics

Construction management projects require time and attention given to many moving parts in order to see the final result come to fruition. The actual management of the project is in it’s own category, but there’s also budget, time, safety, and quality assurance components to consider.

The use of construction management software helps align these different categories to follow the scheduled timeline and achieve the required goal. The software you choose will be based on the size of your construction company, how many projects you handle at once, and the extent each project requires, among other factors such as price and usability.

Capterra has listed its top construction management software picks, but review each on its own merit to see how it could work best for your company. Software options such as CoConstructNoteVault, and Smartsheet all receive high consumer reviews for their capabilities offered.

The Digital Era

Back in the day, it was all paper invoices and tracking receipts. Now most paperwork is kept more organized with cloud-based systems and other ways where several people can be logged in at once to view the status of a project and leave notes that relate to the progress.

Companies range from using sophisticated software systems that house all their materials and project specifications, while others use different platforms to organize documents and information. Some of the most commonly used programs and software includes:

Google Docs: Google Docs make accessibility easy for anyone who has WiFi and a Gmail account. You can share, view or edit permissions, leave notes directly on the document, and refer back to previously saved versions.

Dropbox: Another free tool is Dropbox, which is a place to house all your shared documents and images and organize them into labeled folders. There is an upgraded version available for $9.99 a month that expands your storage availability, which is great for those who have a lot of digital media being passed back and forth.

Skype: Even with central offices, it’s most likely many of your employees are working remotely or rarely in the office. Skype is a great way to keep in contact with each other and create specific groups for different constructions projects where everyone can chime in. This can help get quick answers and keep the process streamlined so everyone is on the same page.

GoToMeeting: GoToMeeting has proven to be a valuable resource when you need to gather several people for a conference call. The service allows you to easily share your screen in order to demonstrate walk-throughs or present visuals for your team to better understand your projects.

Marketing Opportunities

The construction world relies on putting forth a positive reputation in the industry. If no one has heard of you or know what kind of work you’ve done, it’s less likely for a company to immediately agree to have you come in as the construction lead on any project. Make sure you are being competitive and properly branding yourself, whether it’s at a tradeshow or in person for kickoff meetings.

Carry professional business cards with all pertinent information to make it easy to contact you and make yourself known within your industry, not only among potential clients, but associated vendors or associations. Next time your company is in a position to network, make sure you carry:

Business Cards: Include your company logo and contact information so clients have a way to get a hold of you always at their fingertips.

Business Bags: Whether you carry a laptop or briefcase, here’s a prime opportunity to spotlight your brand in a way that makes sense. The idea is to subtly remind anyone who sees your bag who you are and what you do.

Customized Lanyards: When you attend any conference, you can use and give away branded lanyards. This is especially useful if you sponsor or host an event.

Banners: Banners are great for marketing if you’re at a trade show, at your job site, or even in the office. Make sure you have a logo, tagline, or other relevant company information that will keep your name in mind for new and long-standing clients.

With any industry, organization is key to ensure projects are done on a timely and cost-efficient manner. Are the right resources in place? Is the project on track for delivery? What are potential challenges and how can they be minimized or avoided altogether? The right construction management tools will help you stay efficient, on track, and relatively sane for the duration of your project.

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