Construction Software Overview
What is Construction Software?
Construction software helps professionals manage different pieces of the construction process, from planning to execution. Construction software is not yet ubiquitous within the construction industry; many companies still rely on pen and paper. However, adoption of the software has been expanding as construction firms’ IT budgets increase. Users include general contractors, subcontractors, engineers, architects, and building companies in a variety of industries.
Products in this category typically handle one or more of the following processes:
Construction Estimating Software and Takeoff Software
In the construction industry, estimating is the process of calculating the cost of a project. This includes monitoring and updating price during the job. Many construction companies use estimating software to calculate costs at various phases of the project. This includes:
Pre-estimating - forecasting the cost of the job
Job costing - monitoring expenses during the project
Database comparison - using databases to compare material prices
Takeoff is another important part of the cost estimating process. Construction takeoff software allows contractors and project managers to estimate the cost and quantities of materials needed for the project using either hard copy or digital blueprints.
Many products include both estimating and takeoff capabilities, especially construction suite software such as Procore and Viewpoint Spectrum. However, there are a few construction takeoff point solutions such as On-Screen Takeoff and PlanSwift that often have trade-specific takeoff tools.
Construction Software Features & Capabilities
Many construction software products include project management, job site data collection & reporting, and collaboration features:
Plan distribution & viewing
Collaboration & approvals
Project management tools
Building information modeling (BIM)
Issue tracking & punchlists
Mobile & cloud functionality
Estimating the cost of a project is an essential part of the construction process, and construction estimating software offers features such as:
Types of Construction Software
The software enables construction business processes in a variety of areas. Sometimes these overlap with other software categories on TrustRadius that are not industry-specific. But here you can find vendors that cater to the construction industry:
Accounting: Sage, Viewpoint, Quickbooks, CMiC, Jonas Software and Deltek Vision.
Prequalification/Bidding: CMiC, iSqFt, Procore, SmartBidNet, Textura, Viewpoint, eBid Exchange and Pipeline Suite.
Estimating Software: This includes takeoff or materials estimation and features vendors such as On-Screen Takeoff, HeavyBid, Bluebeam Revu, Planswift, B2W Estimate, Trimble Accubid, ProEst, Sage Estimating and WinEst. This is by far the most crowded area of construction software.
Project Management: Viewpoint, Prolog, Procore, PlanGrid, Constructware, and CMiC. Non-industry specific solutions, like Primavera and Microsoft Project are also commonly used.
Building Information Modeling (BIM) and Computer-aided Design (CAD): Revit (Autodesk), Navisworks (Autodesk), Sketchup(Trimble), Tekla (Trimble), QTO (Autodesk), and Assemble Systems.
Job Site Data Collection & Reporting: Autodesk's BIM360, B2W, HCSS, Procore, PlanGrid, NoteVault, and Viewpoint.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Cosential and FollowUp Power. CRM for construction is still not a focus for software vendors. Horizontal solutions can work in some cases.
Cloud Storage, Collaboration, and Web Conferencing: These areas are a crucial part of the construction software stack. Many companies do not use industry-specific solutions. Construction software solutions include PlanGrid and Bluebeam Revu. Both have cloud storage and collaboration capabilities. They are tailored to construction needs as a go-between for the office and field. Industry-specific options have more robust features than horizontal tools (DropBox, Adobe Acrobat DC, etc.). Additional features allow better handling of drawings, markups and file sharing.
Other Emerging Technologies: Augmented reality, virtual reality, drones and 3D printers hold promise for construction.
Construction Software Comparison
To compare different talent management products, consider these aspects of each software offering:
1. Comprehensiveness: Construction software is a broad category
with comprehensive tools that cover the entire scope of construction management
and some that are more niche and focus on key aspects of running a construction
business. Some buyers may want to use a comprehensive tool as a one-stop shot
for all their construction company needs whereas others are happy with their
existing construction management systems, but would like to use a
budgeting/estimating tool that’s more specific to the construction industry
versus sticking with Microsoft Excel, for example. Niche tools may also be
cheaper to use than more comprehensive ones, so it may not always make sense to
get the tool with the most features possible, if you’re already enjoying those
features in software you already use and are going to keep.
2. Templates: Construction software should help you save time
and effort, as well as help prevent mistakes. Built-in templates to complete
the tasks you need for each project are crucial. Before purchasing construction
software, make a list of the required task you need help with and then identify
the software available that has all the tools you need. Common templates provided
in construction software are for project portfolios, accounts payable, general ledger
reporting, purchase order management, and transmittals, as examples.
3. Mobile-friendliness: The majority of construction work obviously does not take
place in offices, but on build sites. Owing to this, construction software
needs to be accessible and easy-to-use from mobile devices. While you may not
need an application that works on every type of device available, make sure the
construction platforms you’re considering or compatible with mobile devices
used by your organization.
Start a Construction software comparison
Construction software pricing depends on the purpose of the tool and the scale of its deployment and varies widely. For example, tools designed for cloud-based project management are typically priced on a subscription model. Prices start at around $40/mo. Other tools focused on bidding and approval may be priced with a much larger, one-time license fee. Licenses are usually at least $10,000.