A lot of time and effort is invested when selecting a new software system for an organization. Starting a software search and evaluation usually results from a need to solve a certain suite of business problems and to improve several inefficiencies. Typically, when referring to enterprise-level software, the road from first realizing a new tool is needed, to having the new system implemented and live, can be lengthy. There’s clearly a lot on the line in making the right decision, so the evaluation process can, and should be, exhaustive. Once selected, the subsequent implementation of the system can also be lengthy, as it is a transformative experience that requires a great deal of thought and redefinition of project management processes and practices. Evaluating financial risk, for example, plays a significant role in the decision-making process. In the construction world, cloud-based enterprise-grade software requires both an initial outlay to implement and integrate the system, on top of an annual amount for licenses and maintenance of the application. The upfront fees can therefore be substantial, so it’s key to make the right choice.
Too often, the selection process will focus on finding an application that will fit or form to practices currently in place for project controls and project management procedures. This is ultimately not an ideal approach as the new software application will provide a platform to redesign and transform those processes to vastly improve project outcomes. The catch is, like maintaining a track hoe or other piece of equipment, to get the most from the new software requires investing the effort into designing an optimum set-up that streamlines operations and provides for standardizations, leading practices and efficiencies.
1. Adoption First
A winning argument can be made that the optimization of the new construction management software occurs well before selecting the solution. No matter how good the tool is, if people are not on board with adopting it as their day-to-day operational system, its value to the business will be wasted. While many corporate decisions are made from the top down – and clearly leadership’s buy-in for these key changes is critical – leaders should set expectations for team adoption. Acceptance of what will be a transformative change will also increase when the decision comes from within the rank and file of the organization. While it’s clearly critical that management set expectations on strategic initiatives, the people actually affected by the decisions on a daily basis have to also be bought in, otherwise they’ll just avoid it. To get the most out of the investment, teams have to see the value in it. Not only that, but it has to actually make their job easier, better, etc.
2. Rely on the Software’s Design and Functionality
When moving to an integrated project cost management system, some existing processes will very likely become redundant or obsolete. This is a good thing, as it introduces automation, efficiency and far better visibility into real-time costs & activities. Resisting the change to automation can lead to inefficiency and frustration as old methods are hung on to because it’s the way things were always done. Its likely that the software search will find a project management system that mimics or comes close to existing processes, because that’s what’s familiar. Depending on the maturity of the organization’s project management practices, shoe-horning software into current processes may not result in the best solution. Keeping an open mind to more modern or alternative ways of doing things can serve to open new possibilities.
Enterprise software solutions have been designed to maximize these processes; and have been on the market for years receiving feedback from existing clients on how to apply ongoing improvements. Lean into this. Take advantage of it. Each software package will have special features that have been mapped out to improve the collection, analysis, and presentation of data. The best course of action may to leverage the power of a new software tool’s functionality by adapting current processes.
With 4castplus, organizations reduce costs and hours by over 18% in the first year, and significantly reduce bottlenecks, redundancies, re-keying of data and project uncertainties.
3. A Change of Project Practice Mindset
It’s important to bring up the idea of project management practice maturity. Not all organisations are blessed with a long legacy of solid project management experience with a deep understanding of how to create a proper project plan – including work breakdown structure, estimate, cost breakdown structure, etc. – that is fit for a major project. This kind of seasoned experience is hard to come by and many organizations will feel the pinch of growth if their internal maturity isn’t quite there yet – despite the fact that they’re expected to deliver. It’s tough sometimes to see the forest for the trees. This adage is especially true when attempting to manage many millions of dollars in projects and programs. The point is, even though there may be some solid process in place, when organizations don’t invest in ongoing project management maturity as they grow by not improving or evolving those process, chances are you fall into a defined category of project maturity.
Zeitoun, A. A. (2004). Selling the “project management message” to enable organizational excellence. Paper presented at PMI® Global Congress 2004—North America, Anaheim, CA. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute.
A new software system provides an opportunity to mature as an organization provided that they adopt a continuous improvement mindset. This may be as simple as using the new system to analyse the performance of projects as postmortem. Based on this analysis, the team can adapt and evolve practices on the next project. This evolution is where a new software system will help a lot.
4. Leverage the System Implementation
A critical part of purchasing enterprise project management solutions is the upfront implementation. The implementation will constitute a large portion of the first-year cost. To get the most value from this initiative, the software solution provider must be emphatic in transferring knowledge of the system to your organization. This is where huge gains in value from a construction management solution purchase. Developing an in-house expert or team to be your solution go-to will give you years of benefits. The expert will be key in understanding the capabilities of the solution and provide a bridge between the software applications capabilities and the organization’s business processes.
5. Embrace Your New Partner
Along with the new software system comes a whole organization that is there to support your business. Your new partner is eager to ensure that you not only realize the range of benefits of the software, but also to ensure that your staff are trained, supported and are armed with the resources they need to excel. Not only that, but developing a close partnership with your vendor provides an opportunity to influence the product road map, remain up to date on product improvements, and have a trusted source of information about your solution. Some of the concepts of improving your business process and evolving with the system can be greatly enhanced by having a simple feature included in the next product release. Maintaining this connection consolidates all the steps to maximizing performance of your software.
As you start down the path on selecting a new cost control, project management or construction procurement tool, preparing your team for the changes ahead, remaining open minded about being adaptive, building a mindset of collaboration and continuous improvement, embracing an internal solution team, and welcoming a close vendor partnership will each contribute to gaining the most from your solution. The 4castplus team have been building these relationships for 15 years and have seen thousands of companies transform their project delivery. It’s our passion, and purpose to help our clients have better project outcomes.