Guiding a project to the best possible outcome requires lots of information. And, the decisions we make along the way are only as good as the quality of the information we have. With outdated or inaccurate information, project decision-makers could steer the project in the wrong direction. But, with accurate information collected by real-time reporting, decision-makers have the tools to make the best possible decision in much less time.
The value of real-time reporting can’t be overstated, but it’s important to understand its benefits. This guide will explain the most important benefits of using software to track project progress and using real-time reporting to make decisions.
The Importance of Accurate Information
There are a lot of moving parts in every construction project. With one general contractor overseeing dozens of subcontractors, and each of those subs potentially having its own subs, it’s critical to know exactly where the project stands at all times.
But, accurate information is anything but easy to maintain (especially without management software). Manual data entry constantly introduces the potential for errors, cross-referencing and adjusting spreadsheets, and ensuring that all of the important values are updated. It’s tough to maintain a reliable source of data, especially with every subcontractor sending (or not sending) information each day.
On the other hand, when automation software is able to maintain sources of accurate information through real-time reporting, it opens a world of possibilities for builders, developers, and contractors. When issues arise, such as material delays, scheduling challenges, major change orders, and other unforeseen problems, management staff can rely on accurate data to help them make the best decision to solve them.
Accurate information can also help growing contractors take advantage of opportunities (or wisely avoid them altogether). Contractors can look at their current budgets and job progress reports provided by their project management software to determine if they’re in a position to bid on another project, purchase a piece of equipment, or even acquire another business.
Also, general contractors and project management owe it to investors and other major decision-makers to keep them informed with the latest data. They need the latest figures, schedules, and progress reports to ensure their investment is on track, and they expect that information to be on point. Taking outdated information to an investor meeting is a waste of time and energy, for the contractor and the investors, and project management software can ease that risk completely.
The Benefits of Real-Time Reporting
Accurate data is obviously important, but its benefits go beyond investor meetings and growth opportunities. There are benefits to real-time reporting that companies can leverage with their project management software every day. The following are just some of the ways that real-time tracking with the right software can improve how a construction business operates.
Accurate Job Costing
In most cases, job costing, even when the data is accurate, is a losing battle. It takes a concentrated effort to keep the data updated, and the second the job costing report is generated, it’s no longer accurate. The budget and balances keep evolving, meaning that even job costing reports generated in the morning aren’t accurate by the afternoon.
With real-time reporting, however, management and office staff can check their job costing reports at any time to determine where their budgets stand. This not only helps the management staff ensure the project stays on track and under budget, but it also allows drastic changes to be detected sooner.
And the best construction management software programs can be customized to send alerts when drastic changes are going to occur. When an approval will send a budget over, or a withdrawal will send a balance into the negatives, program users can handle the issue before it happens, making the most of real-time reporting.
Reliable WIP Reports
There isn’t always enough time to do a full report on all of a company’s projects when checking to make sure things are on track. While job costing reports are great for detailing where every last penny is going, sometimes a Work-in-Progress report, or WIP report, is more than sufficient to quickly determine how the company’s projects are doing. But, they’re only sufficient if the information is accurate.
With the right software program, management staff can quickly check the status of all their projects’ costs, remaining budgets, overages, pending charge orders and their impacts, and completion percentages on one dashboard. Since this data is available in real-time, management staff know what changes they need to make, if any, to keep all of their projects on track.
Instant Impact from Electronic Approvals
Electronic approvals offer lighting-fast communication and can help push a project forward fast. But, if they’re not tracked properly, they can also send a budget into an absolute spiral without much accountability. Real-time reporting, however, ensures that these approvals are reflected in every line item and budget they impact while also alerting users to potential challenges they may create.
For example, a contractor might set up an approval process for budgetary changes. If a project manager needs to shift money, they can submit a request with an electronic approval requirement. If that item is approved but will send an item over budget, management staff will know immediately. And, if this approval will impact more than just one project, the software program will update all of the impacted items automatically.
Real-time tracking in construction management software also allows for improved communication. This is obviously in the sense of performing instant document transfers as well as sending and receiving electronic approvals, but software users can often use their software program to set up custom workflows.
For example, users can customize how certain job tasks occur and who is involved. They can program the system to automatically send documents, approvals, updates, alerts, and other specific parties. This could be other management staff, the company executives, project owners, project managers, and other folks that need to approve, deny, or simply be aware of pending changes. And, any approvals or denials are tracked, ensuring there is accountability across the board.
To-The-Moment Materials and Equipment Inventory
Real-time tracking can be a huge boost to inventory management and purchasing. With construction management software, inventory managers will know exactly how much of each material item they have in stock. With customizable part numbers for materials and stock, they’ll be able to organize and track all of the materials they have across any number of warehouses or yards.
The same applies to equipment usage. Construction management software allows users to track where the company equipment is and who signed it out. Users can even set up custom hourly rates for all of their equipment, allowing them to bill more accurately. And, since these items are tracked in real-time, they can automatically impact job costing and WIP reports for the most accurate and up-to-date information,
How Construction Software Impacts Project Management
Construction software’s impact on project management is a game changer. With real-time tracking and automated updates, the company knows it’s always working with the latest and most accurate information. This allows personnel to make informed decisions, ensure the project stays on track, and run their businesses as smoothly as possible.