Construction Scheduling Software Buyer’s Guide
Construction is a massive industry that drives economic growth around the world, accounting for 13% of global GDP. Construction companies are beginning to see the benefits of digital transformation—but the pace of change has been slower in construction than in other industries.
Some technologies, like building information modeling (BIM) and project management software, are well-known and widely used in construction. But many firms still rely on traditional methods of email, spreadsheets, and paper forms to manage their projects.
The global construction market is expected to surpass 14 trillion USD by 2030—nearly double the value of the market in 2022. To achieve this remarkable growth, the industry must embrace construction technology that can increase productivity, profits, and staff satisfaction.
When introducing technology to construction management, scheduling is a great place to start. Construction has unique scheduling challenges, like coordinating multiple work sites with complex job sequencing subject to safety procedures and permit approvals. Construction scheduling software handles these complexities faster and more accurately than manual scheduling, helping to improve efficiency and communication among the workforce.
Read on for a comprehensive guide to buying construction scheduling software:
- What to do before the search
- Assemble a software purchasing team
- Take inventory of existing software
- Benchmark current processes and workflows
- Document relevant business goals
- Discuss budget
- Finalize a list of requirements
- Construction scheduling software: feature checklist
- Questions to ask during the search
- Skedulo makes construction scheduling simple
What to do before the search
The right construction scheduling software makes a big difference; teams can improve communication, reduce double-bookings and no-shows, avoid understaffing important projects, and improve the utilization of skilled workers. Better scheduling means more completed jobs—and ultimately, higher profits.
With so much at stake, it’s important to have clearly defined goals and requirements before the search. Take the following steps before contacting vendors:
Assemble a software purchasing team
Too often, purchase decisions are made without enough input from the people who will use and administer the software. When there is a major disconnect between what users want and what the software provides, staff will be unhappy and may not use the software as intended.
As a first step, build a software purchasing team that represents each relevant role: executive leadership, managers, schedulers, human resources, IT support, and field teams. Ensure you account for the perspectives of full-time staff, part-time staff, hybrid workers, temporary/seasonal workers, and subcontractors. However, make sure the team is still the right size to be effective; too many people can lead to a protracted decision-making process. If needed, use different feedback mechanisms to get the perspective of additional groups without adding them to the formal team.
If your construction business has multiple divisions that will use the software, like residential and commercial construction, ensure each side is represented. Including diverse perspectives from the start will help avoid frustration later on.
Take inventory of existing software
Next, review the software already in use by the workforce. These could be BIM, asset management, cost estimating, enterprise resource planning (ERP), workforce management, or accounting tools. Consider their features, current usage, and any feedback that has been collected from staff.
For each platform in use, determine if the new construction scheduling software is meant to replace, supplement, or integrate with it. If you are unsure, make a note and evaluate again once you have reviewed a few construction scheduling software providers.
Benchmark current processes and workflows
Examine the company’s current processes to gauge how well they are working. Review the end-to-end workflow for scheduling new work, assigning workers to jobs, and communicating changes to field teams. Evaluate if RFIs, work orders, safety reports, invoices, and other important documents are being completed consistently. Note any bottlenecks or recurring issues you discover.
Use concrete data points to measure workforce productivity and current performance whenever possible. Measure schedule adherence, on-time project completion rate, average time to schedule, utilization rate, or other KPIs to create a benchmark for future comparison.
Document relevant business goals
Using feedback from the purchasing team, create a list of business goals this software will help accomplish. The goals can be short-term or long-term goals, but try to be specific and data-driven whenever possible. For example, the software you choose should increase workforce productivity—but productivity can be measured in total vs. on average, by team vs. by individual, and by project vs. by task. Get specific and define the metrics that will be measured on a regular basis.
Business goals will be highly unique and specific to each construction company, but here are a few examples:
- Increase schedule adherence by [X%] by [DATE]
- Reduce travel time between job sites by [X%] by [DATE]
- Increase the on-time job completion rate by [X%] by [DATE]
- Improve workforce utilization by [X%] by [DATE]
- Maintain 100% compliance with permitting, approval, and safety regulations
Construction profit margins can be tight, depending on the cost of materials and availability of new projects, so budget is an important factor. At this stage, decide (approximately) what the company is willing to spend on a new software platform. This will largely translate to subscription fees and implementation fees for a SaaS platform.
As you consider the “hard costs” of buying software, also consider the ROI of fixing operational problems. Inefficiency and under-utilization cost the company money, and on the flip side, solving those problems will save money. For scheduling software specifically, there is a strong connection between scheduling and revenue. By increasing worker utilization, reducing scheduling errors, and ensuring coverage at all job sites, more projects will be completed (and be finished on time).
Finalize a list of requirements
With a clear grasp of the company’s needs, operational workflows, business goals, and budget, you can finalize a list of requirements for construction scheduling software. This list should be a clear summary of the purchasing team’s findings thus far.
Construction is a highly regulated industry, so make sure any compliance requirements are clearly represented on the list of requirements. In addition to compliance, the list should include requirements for software features, reliability, and integrations.
Construction scheduling software: feature checklist
The software search should account for the unique characteristics of the company, like its specialty, size, and target market. For example, a construction firm that specializes in residential projects with 2-4 workers onsite at a time has different scheduling needs than one specializing in commercial projects with 20+ workers onsite.
With that in mind, there are certain features that any construction scheduling software should have:
- COMMUNICATION TOOLS. The software should make it easy to communicate with workers in the field, without relying solely on phone calls.
- SMART SCHEDULING. Schedulers should have built-in tools to assign workers to jobs based on skill level, proximity, preference, or other factors.
- BUILT-IN DISPATCHING. The main office should be able to assign out new jobs and share with workers, who can accept jobs via the mobile app.
- EASY-TO-USE MOBILE APP. The construction scheduling app should be designed with mobile workers in mind, including offline capabilities.
- INTUITIVE, CLOUD-BASED PLATFORM. Desktop and mobile versions should be intuitive for users and should sync across devices to avoid double-entry.
- SIMPLE FILE-SHARING. Document management tools should make it easy to share RFIs, change orders, building codes, blueprints, specifications, invoices, safety reports, checklists, and other files.
- DATA SECURITY & ACCESS. The platform should store company data, budgets, and project updates in a secure location with role-based permissions.
- DATA ANALYSIS. The software should include reporting and dashboarding tools to help managers analyze and visualize operational data.
- INTEGRATIONS WITH KEY SYSTEMS. The tool should offer integrations with other tools, like BIM, asset management, and enterprise resource planning software.
While it’s not a feature in and of itself, INNOVATION also matters. With a great provider, innovation should come standard when you buy workforce management software.
The platform should be cutting-edge when you buy it—but it also needs to keep improving. Look for modern technologies like AI, predictive analytics, and machine learning to be included into the platform, and ensure the software provider is committed to releasing new features and improvements.
Questions to ask during the search
Now is the time to dive into specific construction scheduling software providers. Compile a short list of SaaS offerings you would like to explore further, and start working down the list.
When you enter a meeting with a sales rep or begin a product demo, ask all of the questions you need to fully evaluate the product. Here are some questions about different elements of the software to get started:
|Questions to ask
|Software Features and Roadmap
|Analytics and Reporting
|Data, Security and Compliance
|Development Staff and Capabilities
Skedulo makes construction scheduling simple
Thanks to manual processes, construction is ranked last in technology adoption among ten industries surveyed—but this is a starting point for transformation. The industry is ready for advanced technology, starting with smart scheduling.
Skedulo is an intelligent scheduling platform built for the field. Construction companies can use Skedulo to schedule, manage, engage, and analyze their workforce, all in one platform. With schedule optimization, scheduling a complex construction job is easier and more accurate than ever.
The Skedulo Pulse Platform is a cloud-based scheduling platform that offers smart scheduling, job matching, route optimization, easy data capture from the field, and offline access. With Skedulo, on average, workers are 21% more productive and leaders have 28% better visibility of work execution.
See how Mainmark used Skedulo to reduce paper-based processes by 90% and give construction managers a clear view into team operations.