Construction software is designed for handling the processes of a building project with an emphasis on the financial requirements involved. In this way, many packages available on the market deal primarily with the estimating aspects of a constructing job, as software enables a contractor to ascertain the finer details of costing a job as well as providing a handy record of the often wide range of varied costs. Software can serve a strong purpose here, as it lends focus to finer details and any costs shaved off lead to greater profits at the valuation stage.
Other tasks are handled by construction software: project management, payroll and tax processes of sub-contractors, timesheets, valuation, reporting and analysis.
An essential function common to any construction software package is estimating or costing a project prior to starting the work. The majority are spread-sheet based applications where the different aspects of a job (materials, plant, labour, subcontractors, etc) can be divided and assessed to a running total. Some even have API's tying into the databases of major trade suppliers to give up to date pricing of materials.
Project management is another key function of this software. Again often presented in a spreadsheet format this enables contractors to plan, get an overview of the progress and timings of an active job, generate automatic notifications to keep subcontractors and clients informed and look at the project from multiple views for greater insight.
Accounting and financial management is another principal task of building software. Similar to standard accounts packages for small to medium businesses these applications are used on a daily basis for the running of the books and payroll. However differences, specific to the construction industry and its regulations are also included; retentions, sub-contractor insurance tracking, and, with UK based packages, CIS (HMRC's Construction Industry Scheme) processing.
Advanced Tasks and Integrated Packages
The more powerful construction software used by larger construction and civil engineering firms contain business tools for greater detailed analysis, managing customer relationships and enterprise-level financials. They are designed to be complete integrated packages giving great desktop views across the whole business and giving finer control over the whole life cycle of a project.
For companies with over 100 users these packages have the capability to run detailed and custom reports on all aspects of the business from tender to valuation providing a wider view on how to improve profitability going forward.
As with other organization level software Customer Relationship Management is provided. CRM in simple terms combines a diary, an address book and a task list and enables a user to market to prospective customers, to develop leads, ensure repeat business and to keep established customers satisfied. With a structured diary system it tells you when you should take specific actions for specific clients. For a larger organization keeping track of numerous clients in this way is often critical.
Advanced financial tasks such as forecasting and cost tracking are also enabled in higher -level software giving a greater degree of accuracy on predicting profits.
Overall an integrated package provides a unified dashboard giving a wide view across all aspects of the business and also giving staff the chance to track the activity of other employees in order to give the client a unified view of the construction project in real-time.
Popularity and Growth of Construction Software
Construction software is displaying a tend of significant growth in the last five years particularly in the SME sector as contractor's looked to maximise their profits during recession. Going forward it appears there will be a rise in cloud based services and mobile platforms which is very useful in providing builders with up-to-date information while on-site.