Construction Information Technology Blog

Construction-specific project management software for contractors

Posted by Dave Robertson on Jul 26, 2013 11:27:00 AM

Following the 2013 construction project management software benchmark report, Software Advice further states that when you are choosing contractors for your project, find out what PM (project management) tools they are using, because research suggests that construction-specific PM software helps contractors complete jobs on time more frequently than those who don’t use it.

More specifically, contractors who use construction-specific PM software are 1.5 times more likely to report that they almost always complete projects ahead of schedule rather than the those utilizing general PM software. Furthermore, these contractors are also 5 times more likely to report that they almost always finish projects early than those utilizing custom-built PM software.

The article also elaborates on several PM software in the market and how they help streamline the business process and improve communications. For more information, read the full coverage here: http://blog.softwareadvice.com/articles/construction/why-you-should-ask-your-contractor-what-project-management-tool-they-use-0708/

 

pm software functionality

Topics: Construction industry, Construction software

What makes construction procurement different?

Posted by Dave Robertson on Jun 17, 2013 8:20:00 AM

If you are looking to buy a computer, a chair, or a car you can typically see it, touch and try it before you make the decision to part with some of your hard earned money and make the purchase. That is one of the key factors making purchasing construction so different. The purchaser has a vision and a plan for a built asset and needs to find an efficient way to buy a complex custom fabricated piece of work that doesn’t exist yet.

The next significant difference when buying construction is the many varied contractual methods to work through including; stipulated or lump sum pricing, unit price contract, design build, construction management, construction management at risk, design-build-operate contracts and many other possible contractual variations. And of course, once you begin to look at contracts it is very important to understand the legal environment related to the various contract provisions. For example: Does the entity purchasing the constructed asset have a duty to treat all the bidders equally? Can the entity have a preferred constructor but get pricing from others to ‘keep the preferred constructor honest’?

traditional construciton procurementThe common requirement for bid security is another key factor distinguishing construction purchasing. The requirement for submitting bid bonds or other bid security is primarily a construction related activity. Like everything else in this complicated process it has to be done on time and be done right as large sums of money are at stake.

Now, just to add a little excitement to the process, add in the fact that in most construction projects there are a multitude of consultants, contractors, subcontractors and suppliers all bound together through a web of bid submissions and the resulting contracts. In many cases the entire pricing/bidding process occurs in a time restricted environment that adds just a bit more pressure to the entire procurement.

Today the vast majority of this activity happens in the traditional, error prone paper based submission process. However, there is change in the wind. Online technologies offer impressive new tools that bring enormous value and efficiency to this entire process. The inherent risks of errors and omissions are significantly reduced or in many cases eliminated. It is only a matter of time until this ‘new way’ of managing the bid submission process becomes the standard. 

construction procurement2

Topics: Construction documents, Risk management, Construction bidding, Construction industry

2013 Construction Project Management Benchmark

Posted by Dave Robertson on Apr 29, 2013 6:30:00 AM

Software Advice, ­­a demand generation company (headquartered in Austin, Texas­­) has just released their 2013 Project Management Software Benchmark Report, a study that gauges software adoption and effectiveness in the construction project management industry.

Over the last two months, Software Advice surveyed 230 construction industry professionals about their project management practices and outcomes. While the survey surfaced many important findings, three key points stood above the rest:

  1. softwareadvice reportConstruction project management software produces superior outcomes. Construction project management software users were the most likely to report that their system met their needs, with 72 percent of users indicating satisfaction. They also reported finishing projects on time and on budget more frequently than any other type of software user.

  2. Construction project managers are embracing Cloud technology. 57 percent of survey participants relied on Cloud-­based software to manage their construction projects. This indicates that project managers are open to using software hosted and maintained off­site.

  3. Preconstruction planning is a top challenge and priority in 2013. 56 percent of participants reported that inaccurate project estimates were an obstacle to delivering projects on budget. Meanwhile, 70 percent noted that changes to building plans were an obstacle to delivering projects on time. In recognition of these challenges, project managers stated that they would focus on the estimating, takeoff and bidding processes as a top priority in 2013.

In 2013 and beyond, Software Advice will be tracking how well technology evolves to help project managers address these challenges and priorities on the job site. For more information on this survey, and to access a detailed report analyzing findings, visit the 2013 Project Management Software Benchmark Report.

Topics: Construction industry, Construction software, Cloud computing

Innovative Construction Technology

Posted by Dave Robertson on Mar 27, 2013 9:38:00 AM

It’s easy to say that you deliver innovative solutions for your clients. It is much harder to actually be on the forefront of inventing new methods and processes. We have been actively inventing new solutions for many years and made the decision to seek a patent for some of our latest innovations.

Infinite Source is pleased to announce that we have been granted U.S. patent number 8412618 by the US Patent and Trademark Office. As part of our System for Managing Construction Project Bidding we have developed methods to efficiently manage bidder verification and bid bond applications. These key elements of the online construction bid submission process help ensure the authenticity of the bidder and of the bid security provided with the bid. When coupled with Infinite Source’s complete online bid submission process, both bidders and those receiving bids can have confidence that the online process delivers verifiable, complete and fully compliant bid submissions. This reduces the risks and problems arising from non-compliant or incomplete bids while maintaining a highly secure yet competitive environment to manage and receive bids.US patent

This latest achievement is a great indication of our ongoing commitment to research and development leading to more efficient and effective ways to meet the ever evolving needs of the construction industry.

Topics: Online bidding, Company announcements, Construction industry

Are we going mobile any time soon?

Posted by Dave Robertson on Mar 19, 2013 8:29:00 AM

I am often asked for my perspective on the potential for using tablets in the field for construction. I was in attendance at the Associated General Contractors of America’s recent annual conference. It was clear from the presentations delivered to delegates and the company’s attending to display their wares that information technology (“IT”) is quickly being recognized as an essential tool in creating increased efficiencies throughout the life cycle of a project, both off site and on. Many of the presentations were entirely focused on IT issues and solutions and the majority of the vendors in the Constructor Expo pavilion were pitching their IT solutions. I am old enough to remember when the majority of issues and vendors at these conferences related to methods of construction or construction materials.

mobile construction

There was a good deal of attention paid to the use of mobile applications. Presentations were made on its use for safety management, for superintendent’s daily reports, using it to submit time sheet/payroll data as well as functions like creating and managing punch lists and accessing documents and project information. Some of the applications could be utilized on a smart phone but most are designed for tablets. Key to all of this is having adequate access to high speed internet connections to make it all work. So the answer to this question is short and sweet … mobile is already being used on the jobsite and its use will only grow from here.

Topics: Online tools, Construction industry, Cloud computing

Is Construction ready for electronic procurement?

Posted by Dave Robertson on Dec 21, 2012 7:00:00 AM

That was the key question posed to a group of industry experts participating in a panel discussion at the Construct Canada conference on November 29th, 2012.

Gordon Stratford, director of design for HOK, a global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm said, “We should just get over it and get into electronic procurement and do it well because it has the capabilities, if done well, to have a lot more checks and balances than the manual way does.

Stephen Bauld, President of Purchasing Consultants International stated that true e-procurement, picking up and submitting the document electronically, is going to be a game changer and has the ability to remove geographic barriers.

Regular readers of this blog will know that we are strong advocates for the use of electronic procurement systems to streamline and remove risks from the bidding process. To read complete coverage of the panel discussion and see a video prepared by the Daily Commercial News on the event follow this link.

eprocurement construction

Topics: Construction documents, Electronic document management, Construction industry

All about online bidding

Posted by Dave Robertson on Aug 31, 2012 9:30:00 AM

Try googling “online bidding”. It is several pages deep that you find the first reference to anything relating to construction bidding. Try “construction online bidding” or “online bidding construction”. Again, several pages deep (except for the references to our company or clients) before there are any results related to the actual submission of bids online. My point … there is clearly a general lack of clarity around what “online bidding” actually is.

I follow several blogs and a number of industry publications and for the most part the phrase online bidding is used in reference to the ability to access a planroom (plansroom, plan room) or a bid opportunity notification service. The reality is that technology has advanced significantly and it is now possible to consider online bidding in the full context of its meaning including the complete bid submission process.

There are ten key elements to a complete online bidding system including:

online bidding complete elements1. Bid Advertisement – If the project is not by invitation only it is important to be able to notify interested bidders that there is an opportunity to bid on.

2. Invitation to bid – For when there are bidders who are to be proactively advised of the opportunity.

3. Prequalification – For some projects the bidders must demonstrate their competence and ability to complete the work prior to being invited to submit a bid.

4. Document Distribution – Distributing the drawings, specifications and any supplementary information is an essential element of the process. When properly integrated into the system there is no possibility of missing or incomplete information being used in the formulation of a bid submission.

5. Addenda Notification and Distribution – All bidders must be quickly notified of any new addenda and be provided quick and easy access to the information to avoid delays or errors in the submission of bids.

6. Creation of the Bid Form – The system must provide the ability to securely create the bid form including all the varied elements that make up a construction bid at a minimum including; base bid, separate prices, alternate prices, unit prices, cash allowances, stipulated sums, tax clauses, bond requirements, time to completion, labour units and other required schedules.

7. Submission of Bid Security – The bid bond when specified is an integral and essential element of a complete bid submission and must be able to be included as part of the bid package.

8. Submission of the Bid – The ability for bidders to follow their normal practices when preparing the complete submission is essential. It must be a fully secure environment that offers the ability to; apply for and receive a bid bond, allow others in the bidding company to work on the submission if required, withdraw the bid prior to closing time if required and of course enter all required elements of the bid call.

9. Bid Tabulation – Once the bid closing time had been reached the recipient must be able to easily compare and evaluate the information using a tabulated set of bid responses.

10. An Audit Trail – A complete and accurate log of all the activities required to complete this process is essential to assist in avoiding and resolving issues of non-compliance or claims arising from missing or incomplete information.

These 10 elements when enabled within a secure and reliable IT infrastructure combine to form a complete bidding system that provides every participant in the process the tools and information they need to successfully complete the aspect of the bidding process that they are responsible for.

So … as you might have already guessed, I think it is time to reframe the references to online bidding. It is much more than just the ability to view a document online or send out invitations to bid. When viewed as a system it is a more efficient and effective way to deliver online bid submissions that are complete, compliant and easily evaluated.

 

Topics: Online bidding, Construction bidding, Construction industry

Construction Technology Predictions vs Survey 2012

Posted by Dave Robertson on Mar 15, 2012 9:48:00 AM

As discussed in our previous post, the predictions around the technology trends for 2012 place emphasis on emerging technology trends such as:

  • Cloud computing
  • Advancement of seamless, cross-platform mobile application
  • More intuitive, integrated, and self teaching software

Although the predictions have been established, we need to take a look at what the construction companies are actually doing this year. A recent survey conducted by The Sage Group gauges the opinions of its construction and real estate customers on questions relating to Construction Industry Technology Trends. Some of the key findings include:

  • technology efficiencyNearly 60% of the respondent believes that increasing efficiency via technology is the most important action to carry out.
  • However, 45% of the surveyed companies do not understand cloud computing.
  • 34% of the respondents indicated that they would increase the use of smartphones/PDAs mobile technology in 2012.

One of the conclusions I draw from this information is that the industry has accepted that it is important to identify technology that can improve the efficiency of their business however they are uncertain what solutions best fit their needs. Rather than trying to understand the supporting technologies and deferring important decisions it may well be better to simply identify the solutions that make sense from an application perspective, satisfy yourself that they are secure and then get on with reaping the benefits of the proven systems that are already available today.

Topics: Construction industry, Cloud computing

Construction Technology Outlook 2012

Posted by Dave Robertson on Dec 13, 2011 6:30:00 AM

As we draw near the end of 2011, there are many predictions around the IT industry trend for 2012. The recently published "Nucleus Research Top Ten Predictions 2012" places emphasis on the rise of cloud computing (prediction #2). According to the article, cloud computing was proven to be nearly five times more productive than the traditional development in 2011. Furthermore, the article also states, “When companies do have money to spend, their two main choices are technology and people. A recent Nucleus survey found technology is winning hands down, with 50 percent of US companies planning to increase their technology spend in 2012 [Nucleus Research l106, Nucleus 2012 IT spending survey, September 2011].” Thus, many firms will look into increasing their productivity via technology adoption next year.

Another 2012 outlook by M/C Partners published in the TechJournal South titled “Top ten communications, tech, and media industry trends for 2012” also acknowledges the emerging enterprise adoption of cloud-based services (prediction #2). Consequently, this will “drive demand for network-based managed services that will provide critical monitoring and management of application and service performance across LANs, MANs, WANs and the public Internet.

IT predictions 2012

So the trend is clear. Businesses are moving towards cloud computing to take advantage of its many benefits including increased productivity, cost savings, accountability and sustainability. In today’s construction industry, online document control, online planroom, and online bidding are examples of cloud computing technologies that are increasingly adopted.

Topics: Online bidding, Electronic document management, Construction industry, Online planroom

Green Construction at the Bidding Phase

Posted by Dave Robertson on Nov 21, 2011 8:17:00 AM

A few years ago most bidders would not have pictured themselves submitting their construction bids online in a paperless environment. It represents a major change from decades of travelling to closings, faxing bid amendments, last minute decisions and all the drama that comes with it. Today, this green construction technology has finally arrived. Online bid submission has the double benefit of being a sustainable process along with the benefits of substantially improved efficiency. Supported with a complete document management system and audit trail, it ensures a complete record of who saw what documents and when. This combination greatly reduces the risk of costly bid related errors or omissions.

A great example of an early adopter of this technology is the city of Prince George in British Columbia, Canada. It leads the way in the electronic tendering of capital projects closing many of the projects that have utilized the recently introduced Owner Bid Management and Bid Submission applications within BidCentral. green construction technologyBidCentral is powered by PlanSource and is a suite of services that was designed specifically for the construction industry and is modeled after the processes that have long been accepted as industry standards. The City of Prince George procurement team and the bidders involved in the bidding process gave BidCentral very positive reviews and recognized it as the new construction procurement standard (view video).

Earlier this month, BidCentral was honoured with the presentation of the TechGREEN Award by the Applied Science Technologists & Technicians of British Columbia. The TechGREEN Award winners are recognized for their contribution to a 'green' economy and sustainable society.  >" target="_blank">Click here to read the news release >>

Topics: Environmental impact, Online bidding, Electronic document management, Construction industry