Good building management software can be of great benefit to a construction project in a whole range of ways.
Ground-breaking software solutions are changing and improving the way stakeholders at all stages of a building project carry out their roles and interact with each other. The tangible benefits mean workflows are streamlined and made, not only more efficient, but more cost-effective.
Effective software allows for greater transparency from contractors and sub-contractors, thus facilitating smoother planning, enhancing the workflow, and avoiding rising costs associated with project overruns.
Ultimately, using construction software solutions leads to greater compliance with industry standards, better-functioning building sites, and optimally operating buildings – and all the positive PR and return on investment that comes with that.
One benefit of construction software is that all the important information and documentation is stored in one single place – in the cloud – meaning everyone working on the job has instant access, everyone has instant updates, and all the documents are safe and can’t get lost or damaged.
Any employee who is working on a particular project can easily gain access to the precise data they need, whether in the office or onsite – on PC, tablet or smartphone.
“The current process of emailing people, of creating Excel spreadsheets, talking to people on the telephone – all of that means you’ve got all your information in lots of different areas, and none of it is co-ordinated. And nobody has a view of all of it,” says Zutec project manager Gemma Hawes.
“What you want is to create a single source of data for references, so you’ve got this single source of truth. You don’t have documents resting in people’s emails, or data tied up in Excel documents that others don’t have access to.
“You avoid having two sets of people with different drawings trying to work in the same room, and wondering which one they should be following.”
Using a digital platform also means that once the building has been handed over, all the relevant operational information is easily accessible in one package to assist the smooth running of the building in the years and decades to come.
A key feature of construction software solutions is that they are easy to use – stakeholders can quickly get to grips with their intuitive design and functions. Also, the software can easily manage the use of documents among a large number of workers, which will greatly improve productivity, workflow and information security.
As workers on the ground input information, it is updated in real time on the platform, meaning everyone, from the next sub-contractor required on that particular part of the job, to the main contractor, to the architect and owners, can follow and supervise the progress.
It also leads to obvious efficiencies as administration work is baked in to what is done on-site.
“You’ve just spent an entire day doing quite hard work onsite, installing or doing whatever it is that you’ve got to do,” says Gemma Hawes. “And now you’re going to have to come back into the office and sit down for probably two, three hours to type up everything that you’ve noted during your day.”
With a software solution, those days are over – when you get back to the office, that work is already done, the information logged as you went along.
Another huge benefit is that there’s no more messing about with bulky filing cabinets, jammed printers, ripped, torn or lost documents.
The efficiencies of working with software and of storing data in the cloud are well illustrated by the fact that the use of the Zutec platform in the construction of the Shard in London saved the printing of 50 million sheets of A4 paper, which would have taken approximately 550 trees to produce. (In fact, cloud computing practices have been recommended by the US Federal Risk and Authorization Management Programme for its ability to reduce greenhouse gases).
“In the old-school way, they would compile all of their as-built drawings, system descriptions, maintenance information, etc, in paper format,” says Zutec Vice President of Solution Sales, Daniel Da Silva.
“And still, to this day, in some specifications they hand over that information in wheelbarrows, in big arch lever folders,” adds Daniel.
The logistics of dealing with all that paper, and of physically storing it after the job, no longer exist – which again leads to huge savings.
Using software has many advantages over paper in terms of durability and of being accessible to many people at one time, no matter where they are.
“Paper-based management is really unreliable,” says Zutec’s project manager Thomas Heery. “Paper gets lost, it gets damaged, nobody has access to it. Often, only one person will know where it is and what’s on it, and it’s not data. A digital solution is the opposite.”